As the unlawning movement grows, homeowners are looking for an alternative to grass that can handle some foot traffic. Finding an eco-friendly high traffic lawn replacement can be a challenge. And it takes some creativity to reinvent your lawn. We’ll walk you through 5 unlawning options that work for different conditions so you can find what’s right for your lawn.
Best eco-friendly lawn replacements for high traffic areas
These ground cover options are eco-friendly replacements for grass in lawns that experience high traffic. As you look through the list, keep in mind that you will want to choose one that works for your zone, conditions, and daily needs.
A clover lawn looks and behaves very similar to a grass lawn. But clover is more eco-friendly than grass. The blooms will attract pollinators, especially bees. And clover is edible for wildlife! Humans can also eat small amounts of clover and it is even considered medicinal. Clover can be mixed with a grass lawn to support high traffic. But a pure clover lawn can handle low and medium traffic. For lower traffic areas, mixing clover with wild strawberries will maximize the benefit to wildlife and pollinators.
2. Buffalo grass
If you really love the look and feel of grass, consider switching to native Buffalo Grass. In a high traffic area, wildflowers and other “weeds” will struggle to compete with this native grass. And buffalo grass can withstand frequent trampling, like most grasses. Buffalo grass is eco-friendly in that it doesn’t require much water, fertilizer, or mowing (just a few times a year). And if you let it to grow tall, it will flower and attract native pollinators and caterpillars.
For those shady areas where grass doesn’t thrive, moss may be the best option. Mosses come in many varieties which are suited to different parts of the county. But generally they like moisture and shade, though they can adapt sometimes to sunlight. Many mosses can handle moderate traffic once established. And moss is great for controlling erosion on shady hills and near streams. Plus, it never needs to be mowed and doesn’t require much maintenance, except watering during droughts. Moss can restore damaged soil, too.
If you live near the coast, eco-friendly dichondra lawns were probably popular in the 70’s and 80’s in your neighborhood. But they’ve fallen out of favor along with creativity in landscaping. Still, dichondra makes for a lush carpet requiring much less maintenance and water than grass. Dichondra can handle moderate traffic, especially when combined with other ground covers. Some dichondra species are native to the U.S. This makes them much better for local insects and pollinators than the Australian or Asian species.
5. Hard pathways
If you’re going for an intentional and clean look somewhere that gets extremely high foot traffic, it may be worthwhile to harden up a pathway. Mulch, gravel, pavers, or stones make an attractive and sustainable surface for a designated walkway. If your lawn gets high traffic and you’re hoping for an eco-friendly alternative, the best strategy is to concentrate that traffic on a pathway. Then, plants can grow around it without being trampled. Your plants will have the biggest ecological impact if they can grow to their natural shape. You can have a truly eco-friendly high traffic lawn replacement by following our unlawning guide and incorporating pathways in your design.
Eco-friendly high traffic lawn replacements: a simple solution for a low maintenance lawn
For every-season appeal and a highly resilient landscape, combine these strategies. These lawn alternatives may thrive in different parts of your lawn or at different times of year. Diversity is key to a healthy ecosystem, and your lawn is part of ours!