chemical lawn additives and are concerned about their impact on the planet. Maybe you just want those long lawn maintenance hours back to devote to more compelling pursuits. Many homeowners only ever step foot on their lawn to mow it. They mainly experience their yards by looking out over them from inside their house. They are likely only maintaining a turfgrass lawn because that is what was always there and haven’t considered easier options. Before we delve deeper, I want to make it clear that I am not com- pletely anti-lawn. There are times when turfgrass makes sense in a landscape such as for a play area for children or pets. However, there is a pervasive overuse of turfgrass in home land- scapes that is both illogical and unhealthy. History has proven that widespread use of a monoculture is almost always a tragedy waiting to happen. Once a disease or pest targets that plant it can spread like wildfire. From the loss of American Elms to the Irish Potato Famine, we have learned that diversity in landscapes and plant choices is the key to their health and survival. Perhaps you like the look of a lawn? A landscape made of ground- cover plants can serve the purpose of a green expanse in a much more efficient and eco-wise way. Turfgrass may struggle to grow under a large shade tree, under heavy foot traffic, or in a too-wet swale area. There are specific groundcovers that thrive in each of these conditions and fill those problem locations in your landscape. Steep slopes and hills are one example where turfgrass is not the optimal choice. In fact, it is dangerous to mow there as a loss of trac- tion and stability can risk injuring the operator. In fact, groundcovers could save your life! There is No Such Thing as No-Maintenance One extreme option some homeowners have taken when frustrated with landscaping with turfgrass is replacing them with artificial turf or even pouring concrete over their yards. While lower maintenance than

a lawn, these substitutes are envi- ronmentally harmful. The chemi- cals used to create and apply them break down over time and the im- pervious surfaces exacerbate the stormwater run-off problems in a landscape even further. Some local governments are even levy- ing taxes on hardscape surfaces to mitigate the community’s shared costs in dealing with their effects. Placing non-breathable hard- scape over tree roots and living soil in effect kills both. Further, they are not “no maintenance.” As a matter of fact, they may not even be low maintenance. Hard surfaces accumulate litter and de- bris. They must be swept or blown

clean regularly. Spilled materials show up embarrassingly on concrete like lipstick stains on a collar. A concrete driveway needs the occasion- al resealing/repair and snow shoveled off when it piles up. The average lifespan of artificial grass is only 10 years and the cost to install or replace it is not small. It requires regular raking to prick up any matted down sections. It holds onto and traps in heat, pollu- tion particles, and smells from pet waste. The underlayment material is often even more problematic then the plastic grass itself as it can contain byproducts and discards of industry. Solving Landscape Challenges Groundcovers are the perfect solution for parts of your landscape continued on page 32

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