to the National Gardening
Association, the average
household spends double the dollars on
do-it-yourself lawn care than on flowering
gardens. Seems keeping those little green blades
in perfect shape is costly. Sure, it’s a place
for the kids to play, but lawns don’t deliver
bountiful color and won’t bring the butterflies
or grace a vase.
Scott Jenkins exposes the roots of our lawn
fixation in her 1994 book entitled The
Lawn: A History of an American Obsession.
Jenkins details how millions of industry
dollars are spent on developing turf that is both
disease and pest-resistant—after all, lawn as we
know it is not a native plant.
any turf-obsessing neighbor to divulge their
secrets of success… when to water, how to water,
the right seed, fertilizer, pesticides, de-thatcher,
aerator, and fertilizer spreader.
If your eyes glaze over when discussing
just how far apart aerating holes should be,
consider this: flowers and other plants can
actually be easier and cheaper to care for than
the perfect lawn.
Hmmm, maybe it’s time to reduce your lawn
area and strike a new balance.
Ornamental grasses and foliage plants are a great
alternative to lawn. Consider breaking up that big
expanse of flat green with taller interesting
plants like these.
Dancer Eragrostis - This airy,
bluish-green grass features tan plumes late in
summer. It grows 3 to 4 ft. (90-120 cm) and
provides lovely winter interest as well. It's
hardy to USDA Zone 6 and because it's
drought-tolerant and native to North America,
you'll find it very low maintenance.
Majesty Ornamental Millet - Deep purple
foliage develops in the sunshine on this tall
corn-like plant. Large flower spikes reach above
the foliage creating a wonderful backdrop for
compact plants in front. It's a beautiful fall
plant with a harvest look and will take light
frosts. This variety is an All-America
Selections Gold Medal -- a testament to its
outstanding garden performance. Also look for two
other varieties of ornamental millet. Purple Baron
and Jester are both more compact than Purple
Majesty but share the same rich color changes over
the growing season.
Knight Alternanthera - The dark
purple-leafed foliage grows about 18 in. (50 cm)
tall and spreads about 3 ft. (90 cm).
heat tolerant, it thrives through the hottest
summers in full sun. You can keep it more compact
with regular trimming.
– The first black-leafed ornamental pepper on
the market, Black Pearl is also a recent
All-America selections winner. It features glossy
black foliage on a bushy plant.
It loves heat, humidity and can tolerate
drought, making it a super summer pick.
Black Pearl features round, shiny black
fruit that matures to dark red and is very hot to