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New options for your lawn: Alternatives to grass

Sherri Kuhn writes about raising teenagers, the perils of a clean home, wistfulness over babies, and anything else that makes her laugh (or cry) in the years between changing diapers and wearing them. With a son just starting college and...

Easy ideas that make your yard pop

Traditionally, a lush green lawn has been the staple of most outdoor landscapes. An enviable grass lawn takes a lot of maintenance time — think watering, fertilizing, trimming and mowing.
Synthetic grass

Looking for some fresh alternatives to grass for your lawn? Check out these clever grass substitutes that will have your neighbors green with envy

Synthetic grass

If you like the look and feel of your grass lawn — but don't care to spend time maintaining it — consider installing synthetic grass. Today's synthetic lawns are amazingly beautiful, with the look and feel of real grass. Synthetic grass is pet-friendly and designed to allow for proper drainage. There are many turf varieties to choose from that replicate the height and color variations of a real grass lawn. To keep your synthetic grass clean, simply rinse with water when needed.

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Clover lawn

Cover it with clover

If your lawn area is not a high-use part of your yard, there are several varieties of clover that make an excellent alternative to a grass lawn. Clover requires no chemical fertilizers to grow, infrequent mowing and is inexpensive to plant. Your clover lawn will stay green even during the driest parts of summer, and the deep root system helps it grow with little to no water. Although it is not as durable as grass, you can sit and walk on your clover lawn without problems.

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Synthetic grass

Put in a patio

Many people have such a large grass lawn that it cuts into the entertaining space they have available in the yard. Why not replace the lawn area with a concrete patio? There are so many options in concrete — think stamped designs, exposed aggregate or stained concrete. Outdoor living spaces have become the new family room, so why not make your yard more usable? If the existing lawn area is quite large, consider replacing part of the outer perimeter with bedding areas planted with perennials or tall grasses. Your concrete area will then be smaller and less expensive to install, plus the planting areas add focus and height to your patio.

Gravel lawn

Go with gravel

Another inexpensive and maintenance-free option is to replace your grass lawn with a gravel area you can use as an outdoor living space. There are several options to choose from, depending on your intended use for the area. Pea gravel is generally an inexpensive option, usually a sandy color and is easy to walk on even with bare feet. Quartzite is similar to pea gravel but white in color. River rock gravel is a gray color and adds nice texture to your space.

Mulch lawn

Got mulch?

A lawn area can be replaced with bark mulch or wood chips as a low-maintenance alternative. Using a landscape fabric as a barrier layer underneath the mulch helps keep weeds to a minimum. Water the mulch and pack it down well to form a flat patio surface. As the mulch biodegrades, you can add more to the top layer. Use flagstone pavers or other large stepping-stones to create a path through the mulch.

How to install turf grass:

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