Yes, we know – it is nice to have a big, fresh green area in the garden. You need somewhere to sunbathe, somewhere for kids to run around. But take a look at that lawn. How much is it costing you, in water alone? How about the hours of mowing and maintenance? Chemical treatments for fertilizing and pest control? And even with all that life support, does it still look a bit sad and brown in high summer and mid-winter?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a low green carpet of some other plant that did not require all that intensive care?


Well, such plants DO exist. There are even subjects that can be cut with a lawnmower and tolerate foot traffic, for those who use their lawns heavily. But for those of you who have a lawn “just because”, wouldn’t it be more interesting to have some flowering plants there? Some aromatic herbs or gently swaying ornamental grasses? Some statuesque shrubs, or a wildflower meadow that will give you an ever-changing tapestry of colour through the spring? All of these ideas are viable, labour-saving and waterwise alternatives to a lawn – more can be found in our gallery of lawn alternatives.

A common mistake is to put in plants that are labelled “drought resistant” and expect them to live from the start without water. While some species will survive, if planted as very small specimens in the autumn and supported by a rainy winter, most will need watering in their first year or two.

However, this should be infrequent, deep watering, and preferably not with sprinklers, which leave the foliage humid and can be a quick way to kill many mediterranean plants. Our preferred method is to shape the earth into a watering basin around the plant and water by hand with a hose, once a fortnight (see diagram). This delivers water evenly and only to the rootzone of the desired plant, and not to the weeds nearby.

For larger projects, this may not be practical, and dripline or microtube irrigation is an alternative, but always making sure the irrigation is infrequent (never more than once a week) and penetrates deep into the soil profile. Contact us for more solutions to the irrigation problem.