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Today I took a walk through my neighborhood. It’s a reasonably quiet area filled with stereotypical signs of suburbia. Minivans in the driveway. Kids playing in the sprinklers. Cats lazily sleeping in the sun beams on someone’s porch.
While taking in the quaint feel of my neighborhood, I noticed something disturbing.
People were intentionally designing their lawns to be this verdant shade, undoubtedly throwing all kinds of money and time into them to get that gorgeous shade of green.
While the nice lawns look nice, they make me shake my head.
Why nice, verdant lawns don’t make sense
Similar to our obsession with showers, energy drinks, and convenience, our love of nice lawns just isn’t frugal. Here are all the reasons why those nice-looking lawns are making everyone poorer.
They aren’t natural
I live in an area of the country that’s naturally hilly and dry. Those green lawns ain’t happenin’ without a lot of human intervention.
Green lawns are a European invention that were designed to show how rich people were back in the day. Of course, grass grows pretty readily and beautifully in the European climate.
In south Texas? Not so much.
The nice-feeling grasses that people love for their lawns isn’t native to our area. When you plant with non-native plants, you run into a host of issues with running off native fauna, which can have catastrophic consequences for the environment.
Couple that with the chemicals and fertilizers needed to maintain a pristine lawn, and you’re looking down the barrel at some nasty consequences.
They require a lot of money and time
A few years ago, my dad was preparing to sell his house. He wanted to make the place as attractive as possible to potential buyers, so he overhauled the yard. He bought a few pallets of St. Augustine grass to place on the scraggly soil, as well as seeding some areas of the lawn, too.
The total cost? $200 just to get the grass.
My dad also had to pay to maintain the water-hungry lawn and saw higher utility bills. The lawn also required special fertilizer and regular watering. If my dad forgot just one watering, the grass would shrivel up and threaten to die.
He spent so much time watering the grass. It easily took one hour each day just to water the grass so it would look nice.
Sure, I know people invest in watering systems to keep their lawn looking green and to save time, but why drop the extra cash? Green lawns are nothing more than a ploy to keep up with the Joneses.
You might be thinking, “Ugh, well what am I supposed to have in my yard? A barren patch of dirt??”
There is a much more affordable, environmentally-friendly, and frugal alternative to the traditional green lawn that Americans know and love.
It’s a practice called xeriscaping, and it’s something we’re slowly integrating into our own lawn.
Xeriscaping is the practice of combining native plants with mulch or stones to limit the amount of invasive and inefficient turf on your lawn. Instead of a wide expanse of green lawn, consider a lawn that gives native species food and shelter, costs nearly nothing to water, and makes your house look nicer.
Want more ideas on xeriscaping? Check out this Pinterest board I put together of my favorite xeriscape looks.
Does xeriscaping cost money? Sure, it does. The upside is that you can save money in the long run and still have a nice-looking yard by relying on native plants that won’t require water or special chemicals to look great.
In fact, many organizations are encouraging homeowners to do xeriscaping. Our water company will actually send us free native plants if we get rid of a certain square footage of grass. See if your government or utility companies offer benefits for xeriscaping.
The bottom line
I get it: green lawns are really pretty and cozy.
But they’re really unnatural and expensive. We don’t need to obsess over having the perfect lawn. Why tie up your money in sod and dirt? Put it to good use in other ways. If you do want to have a fancy lawn, consider xeriscaping as a frugal option.
We want to know: What kind of lawn do you have?
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