A theme image showing a lawn mower on green grass.

Alternative Lawns that are Better for the Environment

The average American has a soft spot in their heart for lush, verdant grass. Unfortunately, they have quickly evolved into unneeded financial and time strains for homeowners. This has led to a recent and rising interest in alternatives to grass in backyards. This interest is expected to continue expanding in the near future, as strain combines with environmental interest. As such, we have compiled a guide on clover and moss for those all needs — including those looking to modify small sections of their yard to those ready to conduct a complete lawn overhaul!

Green Clover

Clover is oftentimes forgotten outside of Saint Patrick’s day. Some even view the bi-annual as a weed. We want you to forget what you think you know about clover and read this section with an open mind.

Clover is oftentimes planted as a green cover crop to increase the amount of nitrogen that is fixed in the soil. Fun fact: the entire plant is edible! The plant has a rapid growth rate, is effective in preventing the growth of weeds, adds nutrients to the ground, and aerates the soil thanks to an extensive root system. However, these benefits are not reserved for farmers or commercial growers. Clover may also serve as an excellent environmentally responsible option for landscaping.

Clover seeds are available at specialty and major online retailers. While the seeds need to be watered twice a day (like grass seed), established plants are drought-tolerant. Mature plants form a tough groundcover that retains its green color throughout the year and does not require fertilizing or mowing. In other words, it ideal for plant-and-forget scenarios!

Dutch white clover is one of the most commonly used species in lawns. Looking to fight monoculture in your own yard? Check out red clover and yellow bloom varieties (both of which may grow up to 36 inches) — they are ideal for creating the impression of a wild meadow.

Is Clover Healthy for Lawns?

Of course! Go to any field and you are sure to find patches of clover growing alongside grass. Clover may actually provide benefits to your lawn. It chokes out other weeds, does not require much water, and does not need fertilizer!

There are a few styles of lawn associated with clover. Lawns composed entirely of clover are optimal for locations that receive little to moderate foot traffic, whereas lawns composed of a mixture of grass and clover are optimal for locations that receive a lot of foot traffic, such as athletic fields and other high-use areas.

A Brief History

White clover is historically one of the most well-liked alternatives that can be planted in place of or alongside traditional lawn grass. Its scientific name is Trifolium Repens.

Recently, clover lawns have had somewhat of a resurgence due to increasing environmental concern and advantages over traditional lawns.

Advantages of Clover Lawns

Traditional lawns composed of Fescue and other varieties contain a number of drawbacks when compared to the benefits offered by clover lawns.

  • In most parts of the United States, watering clover is not necessary to keep it green during the summer. The plants are drought tolerant and keep their color until winter.
  • Mowing clover is optional or virtually unnecessary. White clover only reaches a height of two to eight inches and needs very little or no mowing in order to maintain its neat appearance. On the other hand, you can mow clover in summer to remove flowers or just to improve its appearance.
  • Your garden will benefit from increased pollination if you plant clover in your yard since it draws in helpful insects like bees. It also draws in parasitoid wasps, which are insects that feed on other insect pests. These wasps are quite little and pose no threat to people.
  • Clover never requires fertilizer. Clover generates its own fertilizer and, in the process, fertilizes other plants in its immediate environment. When grass is planted alongside clover, the resulting lawn will be heartier, greener, and require less maintenance than grass that is planted by itself.
  • Clover never requires herbicides. In point of fact, the majority of herbicides will destroy it.
  • It is difficult for other weeds to compete with clover. It has a deep root structure, which enables it to readily outcompete the majority of other weeds and reduces the requirement for weeding as well as the use of costly pesticides.
  • Clover is able to thrive in poor soil. It is able to adapt to a diverse range of soils, including low-quality subsoil that is typically found around newly built dwellings.
  • Going barefoot on clover is a delightful experience. On account of the fact that it is cushiony, thick, and cold, strolling barefoot on clover grass is a pampered experience. These blooms and leaves both have a delicate fragrance that is quite enticing.
  • It is not possible for dog patches to affect clover. Lawn grasses get a yellowish-brown tint when exposed to dog urine, whereas clover maintains its vibrant green color and luxuriant growth.
  • Clover is rather affordable. The seed of the clover plant is often quite affordable.

Disadvantages of Clover

Clover lawns do have some disadvantages:

  • It is easier for clover to stain garments than grass.
  • Clover is not tolerant of high-traffic areas, unless planted alongside grass.
  • Because clover is a short-lived perennial, pure clover lawns may need to be reseeded every two to three years in order to keep an equal stand of the plant. In lawns composed of a mixture of grass and clover, the clover will reseed itself in sufficient quantities to ensure its continued existence.
  • Bees are drawn to the clover flower. This is helpful in the majority of situations. Your garden will benefit from the presence of bees, who are vital pollinators and will help it flourish from spring through October. On the other hand, it might be dangerous for members of your family who are hypersensitive to bees.

Goldenrod and Honeybees

Honey produced from clover, which is one of the bees’ favorite flowers, is among the best honey. However, many people who own homes are reluctant to grow clover lawns because they are concerned about being stung by bees.

It is not necessary to have bees in order to have a clover lawn. You may deter bees from visiting your yard by maintaining a regular mowing schedule throughout the summer months when flowers are in bloom. This is especially helpful if anybody in your household is allergic to bees or has small children.

Instructions on How to Plant Clover Seed

  • It is not recommended to put clover seed very deeply. It should be sufficient to just sprinkle it on the ground or rake it very gently into the ground.
  • It thrives best in direct sunlight. It will continue to develop even in the mild shade, albeit at a slower rate. If you give it too much shade, it won’t thrive.
  • It is recommended that you use twice as many seeds if you are planting in an area that receives more shade.
  • A freshly seeded area should be kept wet until the newly planted seeds have a chance to get established.

What Is a Moss Lawn?

Not sold on clover or have a shady lawn? Try a dense stand of moss. Mosses are rootless plants that absorb moisture via their leaves. They are typically slow-growing. As opposed to seeds, they reproduce via spores. Just as there are many types of plants, there are many types of moss!

Still, moss is fragile, regardless of the variety. Moss is only able to tolerate light foot traffic. Young moss lawns may need some traffic in order to take anchor into the soil below, but this is the only time it is advisable to walk on. For this reason, moss should be avoided in high-traffic areas. Try pairing moss with winding stone walkways!

How to Grow a Moss Lawn

It’s a shame that moss gardening has not been widely adopted outside of Japan. Thick, moss-green carpets can grow almost any place outside dry settings. It can be grown as a groundcover, or even as an accent along logs, stones, etc.

Moss lawns are pricey. Live mosses are still very much a specialty item. Additionally, moss seed does not exist; moss grows from spores and is typically planted via a moss-milkshake concoction. This is expensive as well.

Still, mature moss lawns require less upkeep. Moss lawns are more environmentally friendly than traditional alternatives because they do not require mowing or pesticide use.

When comparing moss lawns to grass lawns, it is necessary to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of each option before making a decision. Discover whether or if a moss lawn is an appropriate choice for you, as well as the steps required in cultivating and maintaining one.

Moss Lawn Benefits

Established moss lawns require less upkeep than grass yards.

There will never be a need to mow a moss lawn. While moss grows slowly, it grows horizontally. It will never grow more than an inch or two from the ground, unless if it has something to grow on.

Moss can also grow in poor soil conditions and does not require much maintenance. It can be used to help curb erosion and live through tough winters!

Moss color can range from green to brown, depending upon the environment. Green moss is well watered and active, whereas brown moss is dry and needs watering.

Negative Aspects of Having a Moss Lawn

A moss lawn is for beauty from afar. If your yard needs to carry foot traffic, then try a grass and clover mix. Additionally, soil PH is important for moss lawns. As such, lawns not meeting PH requirements need to be supplemented. Also, moss needs to be kept clear of debris. A leaf blower or yard vacuum is a must!

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