Low-Maintenance Lawn Care

Grass you mow once a month — or never — saves, fuel, water, money and your weekends

If a barefoot lawn was a homeowner status symbol of the ’80s and ’90s, low-maintenance grass is now the height of cool. First came the comeback of retro push mowers, which run on elbow grease instead of fuel (good thing: a gas-powered mower emits as much pollution as a car driving for 30 kilometres). Then came rising water rates and municipal bans on pesticides and herbicides. Drowning the grass with expensive water and hazardous chemicals is no longer an option for a lushly carpeted yard.

Which is making Eco-Lawn by Wildflower Farm in Orillia, Ont., look like a decent alternative to traditional turf grass. A custom blend of seven fine fescue grasses, one five-pound bag of seed ($34.95) covers 1,000 square feet and grows into a thick green lawn that requires very little care. So you can reclaim your weekends while protecting your bank account and the planet. 

Here’s how:

Grows Anywhere

The fescue grasses in Eco-Lawn grow in all conditions, from full shade to full sun. It’s also forgiving in less-than-perfect soil: The seed grows in loam, well-drained clay as well as dry, infertile soil.

Tolerates Drought

Thin grass blades require less water than typically thick-bladed lawns. Plus Eco-Lawn needs no watering: its roots grow deep enough that the grasses can retrieve nutrients and water naturally. Great for regions that emphasize water conservation as well as establishing new lawns.

Requires No Synthetic Fertilizers

That deep root system (roots can grow up to 14 inches in sandy soils) helps Eco-Lawn track down its own nutrients from the soil, so you don’t need to fertilize chemically.

Unappealing to Grubs

June bugs and Japanese beetles love moist, well-watered lawns for laying their eggs. Those eggs hatch as grubs, which live in moist soils for two years before they mature, reproduce and lay more eggs. Traditional lawns lack the root system of fescue grasses, making the soil surface of the lawn soft and damp — the ideal setting for female beetles to lay eggs. Since Eco-Lawn requires little or no watering once established, the soil surface is hard — a turn-off for beetles — so you won’t get grubs.

Needs No Mowing

C’mon, really? Apparently, while it germinates quickly, Eco-Lawn grows slowly with a low-growing habit, so you don’t have to mow it. Ever. If you don’t, the grasses will grow to about 9 inches high over the season. But because they’re so fine, the blades will fall over to about 4 inches high. If a flowing green shag carpet isn’t for you, you can get the classic cropped look by mowing Eco-Lawn to a 3- or 4-inch height once a month or less.

Saves Money

If you’re currently paying someone to cut your grass, watering weekly and using fertilizers, you can save a bundle by switching over. Check out this calculator to figure out how much you’ll save on watering alone. CMHC determined that drought-tolerant, slow-growing lawns had the lowest annual maintenance costs and were the most time-, material- and cost-efficient of all forms of landscaping.

Many Ways to Convert

Wildflower Farm’s website has detailed instructions on installing a new Eco-Lawn or converting an existing lawn, either organically or non-organically.