There are many reasons why you may want to replace your traditional grass lawn with an alternative. Grass is high maintenance, requiring frequent mowing, watering, aerating, de-thatching and fertilizing. It uses an immense amount of water compared to other plants and this is becoming more of a problem as water bans across Canada become the norm. Grass can also be difficult to maintain in much of Canada as it must be tough enough to endure harsh winters and hot summers. There are some great low-maintenance alternatives to grass that will provide you with beauty and utility.
White clover is a hardy plant that re-seeds easily and produces underground runners to spread itself. White clover produces small flowers in late summer that are attractive to honey bees. One of the benefits of turning your lawn over to white clover is that the dark green leaves give the impression of a lush lawn from the curb. It is a low-growing plant and will not require mowing and needs very little watering. Clover attracts nitrogen into the soil around its roots and therefore improves the soil rather than draining it like grass does.
Creeping thyme is a popular choice for a non-grass ground cover. It has a low profile and a consistent green look when it is not in bloom. When creeping thyme blooms, your lawn becomes a riot of color: whites, pinks, purples or reds. It is one of the most stunning lawn replacements and smells like thyme when stepped on and crushed. Both the leaves and flowers of the creeping thyme are edible.
There are many varieties of juniper that grow no higher than six inches and "creep" along the soil, slowly spreading and creating a green carpet. For lawn areas that have little foot traffic, it is a hardy and extremely low-maintenance alternative that looks consistent from the curb. Once established, prostrate varieties of juniper do not need additional watering, trimming or fertilizing. It also grows well on steep slopes where it is difficult to grow or maintain grass.
If you are not trying to maintain the look of a lawn, you can convert that growing space over to vegetables. Not only can you produce your own vegetables for a fraction of what you can buy them for in a store, they are less overall maintenance than a grass lawn. Many homeowners are choosing to plant an edible lawn as a practical and fun alternative. One of the pluses of a vegetable garden is that they are often exempt from residential watering bans. Vegetables can grow in most parts of Canada between May and October. West Coast residents can grow vegetables almost all year around.