Six billion dollars. $6 billion. That's what Americans spend each and every year on caring for their lawns according to Warren Schultz, author of The Chemical-Free Lawn. But there is a growing trend among homeowners, particularly those with already precious little spare time and owners of investment properties. This trend involves words that get avid gardeners' blood boiling but are very effective in reducing the amount of maintenance time your landscaping requires. What gets gardeners so upset?
Reducing Maintenance Means Reducing Churn
Living plants require tending in order to stay that way and look good doing it. This is work, and you either have to do it yourself or hire someone to do for you. And you know that if you don't do it, everyone in the neighborhood is going to see.
One solution comes with the dues you pay to the neighborhood homeowners association (HOA). This type of outdoors maintenance may be included in those fees. Otherwise, you're on your own.
MSN reports about "garden fatigue" where people have grown tired of the constant work and not-so-subtle competition with their neighbors --- particularly when the goal of having a nice yard was an improved lifestyle: actually being able to relax and enjoy it.
Some homeowners have decided to "hardscape," replacing perishable and fragile plant life with larger concrete patios. While the initial installation costs are often more than 10 times higher than grass, the routine maintenance is often limited to once-a-year treatments which help protect the concrete.
This eliminates much of the work of pushing a lawn mower on a hot summer day or worrying what effect the decreased rain and water conservation rules are going to have on your landscaping. A few people have even decided to eliminate grass altogether.
But you don't have necessarily to turn your backyard into a Mediterranean patio, and there may be a reason why the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence: it may not be real grass at all.
During the year, thousands of people enjoy the live concert series at Santana Row in the open courtyard of the Park Valencia where the grass is green all year round. The grass is actually a surprisingly realistic feeling replacement used in sports stadiums, training facilities and driving ranges across the country, FieldTurf.
Its emulation of real grass is very good and you can see and feel it for yourself: the Park Valencia is just outside the Starbucks on Santana Row. No water or mowing is required, obviously, and it doesn't get ants or other pests you normally associate with grass. You may, however, need to get approval before installing it.
Replacing existing plant life and foliage is can be challenging and hard to reverse. If you're not ready to go quite that far, the National Gardening Association provides a list of 8 easy plants which can help spruce up your garden while helping lower your maintenance.