The most effective way to reduce lawn maintenance–both mowing and leaf blowing–is to convert part of your property to a no-mow, or low-mow, area. There are a number of options. To stimulate your thinking, here are some examples, together with references to sites that give advice on how to create these increasingly popular gardens.
A NON-NATURAL LOOK that is commonly seen:
SOME IDEAS FOR YOU ON ALTERNATIVES TO A CONVENTIONAL LAWN
Suggestions for ground cover and slow-grow grasses
More examples are given by Bob Vila
At their simplest, wildflower seeds are scattered over a lawn. More thorough methods involve first removing the grass.
STARTING A WILDFLOWER MEADOW
HOW IT CAN BE DONE 1: A PRINCETON WILDFLOWER GARDEN
Fran and Will Price have been working on their small plot for several years, creating a sustainable meadow-type garden. Fran says “It’s a different aesthetic. …When you let even small patches of your yard grow wild, you would be amazed at what kinds of insects, birds, and mammals come back”. Will typically mows it once a year.
Fran offers a tip for best success: to clear away unwanted grass and plants, put down layers of cardboard and cover with several inches (she recommends six) of soil. Plant in the soil; the cardboard decomposes, and the grass dies off.
HOW IT CAN BE DONE 2: A MEADOW IN NEW JERSEY
This New Jersey meadow by Mr Luke Brunskill was created in stages. First the grass was removed–this can be done either by a roto-tiller or by garden tools–then wildflower seeds were added. Here’s what Luke did (thank you for sharing this, Luke!):
Luke says “I rented a rototiller from home depot, and afterwards removed the loosened topsoil by hand with rake and pitchfork (this is the most labor intensive part). I scattered seeds by hand, using two mixes from Ernst Conservation Seeds (https://www.ernstseed.com/). There were some undesired weeds that I handpulled. Adequate soil prep is the best thing you can do to ensure success.”