It is not only lack of moisture, but intense heat, that causes a lawn to “brown out” this early in the Pacific Northwest. With this year’s unpredictable weather and a changing climate, it’s time to consider lawn substitutes. Don’t panic: There are some that won’t make your garden look like the Sahara Desert.
- Keep it simple. If you like the clean look of a lush, rolling lawn, you may want a single variety of a drought-tolerant ground cover. Ground covers don’t require much care or watering. Most need some watering until they are established, but only a fraction of the moisture required to keep a grass lawn verdant all summer.
- Mix it up. Use two or more varieties of ground cover and create a tapestry of color and texture. Many bloom at some point during the late spring or summer so they also offer color. “Stepable” ground cover will tolerate foot traffic to varying degrees, but not heavy usage or usage for extended periods. If you require durability in your paths and walkways, stick with stone or pavers.
- Do something completely different. A lawn can be turned into a water-wise landscape using hardy plants — ones like lavender, that often get over watered in a traditional ornamental garden. You can create a water-wise Seattle landscape using herbs and plants with origins from hotter, dryer climates – like the Mediterranean. Some examples include Grasses, Sedum, mat-forming Thyme and drought-tolerant perennials
- “Rock out.” A natural-looking dry riverbed or stone-lined pond adds interest when planted with attractive ground cover, grasses and easy-to-maintain perennials.
Theses solutions require some maintenance to keep them looking tidy, but none of the weekly mowing, edging, regular watering, fertilizing that is required to keep a lawn green and weed-free in the summer.
If you want some lawn for kids, pets and summer activities, try reducing the size of the lawn and eliminate areas you do not use regularly. Remember when replanting those areas to choose plants that will fit the space long-term and that are compatible with those around it.
Contact us for design consultation and to learn more about the best plants for your Pacific Northwest garden.