A well-groomed lawn is the focal point of any garden. But that doesn’t work well everywhere. We show alternative possibilities for lush green!
A green area, carefully tended and cared for, should not be missing in many gardens. “Many lawn owners enjoy the green in their garden, which is good for the eyes. At the same time, the lawn is also an extended living room for them, which can be used for many activities, but also just for relaxation,” says Harald Nonn, Chairman of the German Lawn Society.
But if you have a lawn, you have to do a lot to keep it beautiful. Mowing, fertilizing, watering is what Nonn calls the “triangle” – and in many places it has increasingly become a challenge. “In our part of the world, sufficient water supply for lawns – but this applies to all green spaces in general – has become increasingly difficult due to climatic changes.”
If the lawn in your garden just won’t grow or maintenance is too much work for you, there are other green alternatives.
Flowers and herbs instead of grass
Garden owners do not have to do without a green area – but they should refrain from pure grassy green. In the hot summers of the past few years, annual millet, horn sorrel, yarrow and other plants that cope much better with drought have taken over the lawns, reports Sven Görlitz, garden consultant at the Association of Homeowners.
If you don’t want to let nature take its course, you can deliberately design the areas with other plants. Depending on the location and use, flower meadows, herb, flower, scented or gravel lawns are ideal. Certainly: “The look may take some getting used to for lawn lovers, but the flowers of the herbs offer many insects a source of food and a habitat,” says lawn expert Nonn. He pleads for a juxtaposition of such differently designed surfaces.
Probably the biggest adjustment for lawn owners is a flower meadow – if only because it should only be mowed twice a year. Although ecologically valuable, from Görlitz’s point of view it is only suitable for the home garden to a limited extent: “Flower meadows are maintained by self-sowing and therefore you need a lot of space. In addition, the areas are actually no longer usable.”
Alternatively, a mixture of grass and rather low-growing, hard-wearing flowers and herbs can be used. Depending on the offer, such mixtures for herb or flower lawns contain various grasses and flowering plants that are easy to cut, such as daisies, yarrow, thyme, plantain, bugle and sage.
They are not only suitable for the actual garden behind the house, but also for small green areas in front of it. “Herb or flower lawns are ecologically valuable and very easy to care for. Fertilizers, watering and scarifying are not necessary,” says Görlitz.
Approx. 18 to 76 euros
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Approx. 12 to 104 euros
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Approx. 9 to 36 euros
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Off the lawn: This is how the switch to alternatives works
A changeover to herb or flower lawns can be done step by step. For Görlitz, however, it is only the second-best choice after a new system. And: “Simply sowing the seeds in existing lawns will not work.” Instead, the garden expert recommends thinning the existing lawn, mowing less and sowing bare spots with the new plants.
The area is mowed every two to three weeks. A tip from Görlitz: mow part of the lawn and let some areas grow higher so that more plant species can get a chance.
There are also solutions for carports and shady places
The biologist and author Ulrike Aufderheide recommends a flower gravel lawn to make parking spaces, paths and spaces greener for cars. They are secured with gravel according to the necessary load-bearing capacity and then sown with native wild plants and grasses that love lean, dry and hot locations.
Fragrant herbs like thyme and oregano can also thrive there. But: “Scented lawns are particularly suitable for areas where I stay longer, for example for the sunbathing area – Provence feeling guaranteed,” says Aufderheide.
Greening an otherwise sealed surface has several advantages. “The areas don’t get that hot in summer because the plants evaporate water and this cools the air. In addition, the rain doesn’t run off as quickly and can seep into the area,” explains the garden planner.
A moss lawn is a solution for deep shady areas where grass doesn’t stand a chance. “Many think moss is bad for the lawn, but it’s exactly the other way around: the moss grows because nothing else grows there,” says Aufderheide.