We love our lawns here in the UK, and have done ever since they were first introduced back in the 1600s when only the most wealthy elite could afford to maintain them. A well-lept lawn brings a gorgeous splash of greenery to the garden, and provides a lovely soft surface for sitting, relaxing and playing during the warmer months.
If you’re interested in introducing more biodiversity to your outdoor space, your lawn is a wonderful place to start. Grass can be home to a huge range of tiny bugs and insects, and by introducing different types of plant species to your lawn you can boost that miniature eco-system even further. There are plenty of wonderful lawn alternatives that are tough, low-maintenance and can even provide amazing flowers and fragrance as well as providing a safe haven for various types of wildlife.
The initial set-up of your alternative lawn might take more resource and effort than a grassy lawn, but the rewards are high. In this article, I’ll share with you how to get started and some excellent common plants to try. You can create a lawn with just one type of low-growing plant, or create a ‘patchwork’ for a lovely natural, rustic effect that’s a real treat to look at.
Preparing for your alternative lawn
Preparing the ground for your new lawn is the first, and most work-intensive part. A few weeks before you’d like to plant, you’ll need to dig up your grass lawn if you have one, making sure to remove all the grass roots and any weeds. Fork through the soil thoroughly, and wait for a few weeks to allow any leftover weeds to germinate, which can then be hoed off. Your soil is now ready for planting out!
Clover is a very resilient little plant, that can withstand normal footfall on your lawn. It was once considered a weed on lawns, but it’s actually really beneficial as it releases nitrogen into the soil, supporting other plants and ensuring it stays green year-round. It can thrive on very little water, and some varieties have lovely white pom-pom-like flowers that bees love! You might even find a lucky four-leafed clover if you’re eagle-eyed! Plant from seed from late spring onwards.
You may be surprised that this feathery low-growing plant can make a beautiful and resilient lawn! Chamomile does best in full sun, and it’s a bit of a Goldilocks plant, not liking soils that are too wet or too dry.
If you plant the flowering kind, this can be dead-headed by mowing, but there is also ‘Treneague’, a non-flowering kind developed specially for lawns. You can plant out plug plants and they will soon grow together to create a thick, green carpet.
A wildflower lawn is a lovely option if you’re keen to see more variety in your lawn. Wildflower turf can be bought and laid in one go, or you could purchase plug plants from a UK stockist and plant them out either in your grass lawn, or alongside your chosen alternative lawn plants.
There are lots of other plants to choose from to plant out your alternative lawn, and you can really get creative and mix it up – it’s your lawn! Other plants to try include creeping thyme, sedum and mind-your-own-business. With an alternative lawn, you’ll be welcoming diverse wildlife and enjoying no-mow greenery all year round. Happy planting!