Wildflowers make for a stunning native landscape

| by Melissa Rappaport Schifman
Wildflowers make for a stunning native landscape

When you look at a huge, sprawling lawn, what comes to mind? Kids playing, taking naps, a serene afternoon walk? When environmentalists look at one, they usually think of all the energy and water that goes into maintaining a lawn — and possibly toxic pesticides and fertilizers as well, which pollute the ground water.

If you are determined to have a lawn, there are ways to make them more environmentally friendly:

  • Use an electric mower or a push mower instead of a loud, gas-guzzling mower.
  • For weed management, use only organic fertilizer. That requires more frequent application, but at least there is no sign on your lawn saying "children and pets keep off!"
  • Irrigate at night; in the daytime, more water is lost (and wasted) due to evaporation.
  • Consider limiting the size of your lawn.

If you want to get rid of some of your lawn, there are several other landscapeWildflowersalternatives:

  • Plant a native wildflower garden. These require very little maintenance or irrigation, and no pesticides or fertilizers. They spread on their own and are beautiful.
  • Plant no-mow fescue for a green lawn look without the mowing maintenance. (It might take some getting used to — it looks like long lawn lying over.)
  • Get creative with other types of plants — including native grasses, shrubs, vegetables, native trees, etc. — as well incorporating rocks or mulch for covering the ground. As long as it is permeable (able to absorb water), it is environmentally preferable to lawns or hardscapes.

Of course the variety of options does depend on where you live and your climate. One good resource is this wildflowers website. Also, it's important to check with local codes, as some cities do not allow long grasses. (That happened to me — the city of Minneapolis cited us for violating the city ordinance. See the story on my blog.)

In any case, as with most green projects, everything is relative. You have to do what you can afford in both time and money. It's the intention that counts.

Topics: Landscaping

Melissa Rappaport Schifman
Melissa provides sustainability consulting services for businesses in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Melissa is also the founder of Green Intention LLC, where she writes and blogs about her experience in getting her own home LEED Gold certified--and then trying to live more sustainably in the home. She chairs her congregation’s Task Force for Sustainability, has her MBA, Master's in Public Policy, and is a LEED AP for Homes. www

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