Ideas for lawn alternatives
Installing and maintaining a manicured lawn in your garden is one of the most labour and resource intensive things you can do and whilst it is a much loved feature of the British garden, I would like to offer some alternatives (or additions) to this which are lower maintenance, increase the biodiversity in your garden and, I would argue, improve the all year round aesthetics. Most of these alternatives are more relevant for a small space with light traffic and conditions where a traditional lawn may struggle to thrive.
Clover is a resilient, nitrogen fixing, low growing plant which likes sun and clay soils. The white flowering species is not as resilient as the evergreen micro clover but will encourage bees and other pollinators into the garden.
2. Creeping Thyme
Another alternative for a a sunny spot, creeping thyme releases a rich scent when it is walked on and produces a mass of pink/lilac flowers in the summer. The Victorian Nursery sell plug plants.
Available as flowering or non flowering and as seeds or plugs Camomile also releases a lovely scent when walked on and is hard wearing. A tapestry lawn of these three low growing, sun loving varieties can also provide an visually interesting alternative to a lawn. Maintenance is minimal with no or very few cuts required throughout the season. Morehavens Camomile Nursery are a specialist, growing two varieties of plants for lawn.
4. Wildflower meadows
Best used for marginal areas, surrounding a more traditional lawn or lawn alternative or paths or on a bank, wildflower meadows can be created using turf or seed mixes and are low maintenance, self perpetuating and the best thing you can do in your garden to improve biodiversity. Requiring just one or two cuts a year, this option is not only low maintenance but a perennial wildflower meadow will improve year on year and can really soften the marginal areas between hard landscaping and lawn or flower beds. Wildflower Turf offers a huge range of options.
Used in Japanese gardens for centuries, moss is a somewhat controversial suggestion for a British gardener that has spent years trying to eliminate moss from their lawn. However, for a shady garden it is the perfect solution for a soft, evergreen, low maintenance in your garden. Plant smaller pieces of moss and they will join up over time but hand weeding will be required whilst it is establishing. Larger pieces of moss are available from Triangle Nursery.
I really encourage you to explore some of these alternatives for your garden.