Designing a Low-Maintenance Lawn - dummies

Designing a Low-Maintenance Lawn

By Lance Walheim, The National Gardening Association

Having a low-maintenance lawn isn’t impossible. It’s all in the design. Of course, a small lawn is easier to care for than a large one, but there are other things you can do to make a lawn easy to maintain. Some of the following design techniques will make your lawn easier to care for:

  • Put in mowing strips: These strips are usually several inches wide and encircle all or part of your lawn. Usually made of cement or wood, they allow you to run the wheels of your lawn mower right up to the edge of the grass so that you don’t have to come back and trim by hand later.

    Mowing strips also can prevent aggressive lawn grasses like Bermuda grass from growing out of bounds and becoming weeds in nearby planting areas.

    Credit: “Adding Some Edging,” © 2010 David Carrington Thox, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license: 
  • Use edgings: Edgings are usually thinner and often less permanent than mowing strips. They are also less expensive and easier to install. Even though you can’t run your mower wheels on top of them, edgings can help keep grasses in bounds and give your lawn a nice clean edge. They also can make the lawn easier to trim.

  • Don’t plant lawns in narrow or awkwardly shaped areas: Narrow strips of grass like you usually see between street and sidewalks are hard to mow and almost impossible to water properly. Who needs the hassle? Go with a ground cover or other lawn alternative that is, if your city or homeowners association lets you. Some cities and associations require grass in these narrow strips. Better check first.

  • Don’t plant lawns on steep slopes: Grass growing on a steep incline is dangerous to mow. If the mower flips over, you could turn into a very messy mulch. Slopes are also hard to water; the water quickly runs into the gutter before the soil can absorb any of it.

  • Don’t plant lawns in heavily shaded areas: Some grasses can grow in light shade, but the less light a lawn gets, the more trouble it has and the worse it looks. Besides, if trees cause the shade, the tree roots battle with the lawn for water and nutrients. And the trees almost always win.

Now you’ve not only designed a beautiful lawn, you’ve done it smartly, too.