Weeds or Wonders?

Eco Lawn Alternatives &Tips

Lawn Flowers
Little White Flowers
Photo Credit: joanneteh/Photobucket

Many people are concerned about the ecological damage that lawn maintenance causes, and with good reason.

If you are going green with lawn alternatives, a great substitute for traditional turf grass is an Eco-lawn. 

This innovation is also called Ecoturf and Ecology Lawn.  It was pioneered by Dr. Tom Cook from Oregon State University at Corvalis.  

Dr. Cook in over 10 years of trials successfully tested a mixture of low growing water-sparing perennial wildflowers and various cool season turf grasses.  This Eco-lawn was specifically designed to require less mowing, less fertilizer, no herbicides, have low water needs and on top of that…look beautiful.  Dr. Cook found that this blend was excellent for conventional lawn uses such as family play, sitting and home aesthetics.

Don’t think for a moment that we are talking about a sloppy, weedy, overgrown or unkempt mess.  The result odf an eco lawn alternative is like a flower filled meadow with a softer side than a turf grass only lawn.  The varieties of plants provide a bounty of color and texture with year round interest.  In the summer, when the cool season grasses are dormant, the perennial wildflowers provide the green lawn look with flowers.  In the fall the grass greens up and lasts through until spring.
Follow the suggestions below for a lush and lovely Eco-lawn-

Five Eco-Lawn Success Suggestions

Make sure to buy a seed mixture formulated for your region. (see sources below)  There is no one seed mix that will meet the varying climate conditions across the United States.  Only buy seed for one season’s planting.  It does not keep well.

Prepare your soil properly as you would for any new lawn.
Remove all weeds and till about 3” of compost into the soil before spreading your seed.  Consider including mycorrhizae in the mix for strong root growth and faster establishment.

Recommended planting times are fall and spring.
 Cool moist weather aids germination and will cut down on the watering bill.

Mow your Eco-lawn higher and less frequently than traditional turf lawns. 
This is dependent, of course, on your weather conditions and just how high you (or your neighbors) can accept it.

Give Eco-lawns enough time to establish.  Although once established an Eco-lawn requires less water than conventional turf grass, you will need to give it regular watering during the critical first year’s growth, and depending on your lawn, perhaps for one additional year.  After that, a once monthly watering should be sufficient for most summer’s dry months.

Two highly recommended companies are good sources for specialized Eco-lawn seed customized for your particular region. Nichols Garden Nursery and Seedland.

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