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Who doesn’t like a large, lush green lawn? But keeping that lawn looking healthy, weed-free and well-manicured requires time, money, water and chemicals. And you may live in ahot area which makesa traditional grass lawn even more of a challenge.And climate change makes it difficult to predict whether this summer will bring searing heat (and a brown lawn) or drenching rains (and mud, runoff, and mold).

  • So how do you get the same rich look as a lawn provides while cutting your weekly investment and making a smaller impact on the environment? Consider reducing the size of the lawn you have to tend by replacing some (or all) of it with stone “gardens”, patios and decking, water features and easy-care plants.
  • The big plus with landscaping stones, rocks and concrete(“hardscaping”) is that they require little upkeep or treatment (something like the pet rock you might have had as a child). Stone is budget friendlyin the long run, and adds a natural elegance to your property while reducing the amount of space that will need continual care. Wild grasses and other low-maintenance ornamental plants require more care than stone, but considerably less maintenance than traditional lawn grasses.Less Lawn = More Time to Enjoy Your Yard with Stone Landscaping
  • Pavers can be usedto create interesting paths or unusual visual spaces, or can be placed in a checkerboard pattern alternating with grass or smaller stones. If you live in a damp area, moss can take the place of grass in between paving stones, and you don’t need to mow moss.
  • Consider entire gardens made of gravel, featuring low-water plants suitable to your climate set in islands of golden pebbles.Or use different stones of different colors for a paint-like effect. For larger areas to be covered with stone, placing permeable pea gravel on top of weed cloth allows excess water to soak into the ground rather than run off into the street. Edgings of annual plants or river rock also soak up water. Large landscaping rocks (such as boulders) can add a focus point to the design of your outdoor area while further reducing the size of area you have to maintain.
  • Low-maintenance water features such as fountains (surrounded by a stone garden, of course) add beauty and peaceful sound to your landscape, while attracting both birds and butterflies.From a stone plinth to a shallow pool, fountains come in all shapes, sizes and price points. For an even bigger impression, why stop with a tame fountain? An entire wild “creek” can be created from large stones and boulders, integrating native plants and flowers and running through your back yard.
  • Patios, which used to be little pads of concrete right outside the back door, are growing in size and complexity as they grow in popularity. They can range from a small corner niche made of dry-laid slate and furnished with a small café table and chairs, to a huge entertainment complex complete with weather-resistant rugs, kitchen equipment, and even a built-in flat-screen television. A well-designed patio can add to your living space during warmer months, while decreasing your lawn space.
  • And why settle for one deck or patio? Picture an additional entertainment spaceset away from the house, where the family can enjoy a fire on cooler nights around a fire pit, fireplace or chimney. New types of composite plastic decking requires little care and are a much safer choice than traditional wood for use near flame. Flat areas of gravel or tinted concrete also make a safe base for fire features.

All of these ideas minimize the space devoted to traditional lawn, making for beautiful backyard designs and a happier Mother Earth.

Author Bio:
Andrew Raynor is a designer, landscape contractor and plant expert. He has hosted radio, television and online garden shows. He has the habit of writing articles that are related to landscape and gardening.

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