University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System: Water Quality and the Home Landscape

Sustainable Landscaping: Turf

by Karl Guillard

Reduce Lawn Area

In many landscape situations, grass may not be the best choice as a vegetative cover. Reduced lawn areas will decrease the need to mow, rake, fertilize and water the lawn area.

Excellent locations for alternative ground cover include areas with steep slopes, wet or shady areas and sites with easily erodible soils. Ground covers can improve infiltration of water into the soil, slow storm water runoff and reduce landscape maintenance needs. Consider pachysandra, English ivy and vinca and the deciduous ground cover Virginia creeper. Low growing shrubs such a junipers and perennials such as hosta and daylilies and ornamental grasses are good selections.

Consider converting areas of your yard to tree and shrub borders with low maintenance trees such as evergreen white pine and deciduous Cornelia cherry, kousa dogwood and shadblow and white pine. Low maintenance shrubs such as smokebush, bayberry, witch hazel and fragrant sumac "grow-low" require little care.

For tree and shrub areas use fallen leaves to provide a natural mulch and ground cover to conserve water and reduce maintenance.