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Grass-Free Landscaping a Viable Alternative M

any homeowners equate a beauti- ful landscape to rolling acres of pristine lawn. But changes in the

climate and widespread seasonal restric- tions on water use each year could change the way people think about outfitting their

yards. There are many reasons people choose to

forgo grass and opt for different ornamental elements in their yards. Cost is one factor. While grass seed is relatively inexpensive, the upkeep, including mowing, fertilizing, re-seeding, and watering, requires a signifi- cant investment of both time and money. Many homeowners choose to lay down sod to create a beautiful lawn, an expensive op- tion for homeowners with vast landscapes. The environment is another reason hom-

Area News Group

Pelham- Windham News

April 22, 2011 Page 14

eowners look for grass alternatives. Grass requires a lot of upkeep, much of which is not environmentally friendly. For example, maintaining a pristine lawn requires the use of a gas-powered mower and oftentimes the application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Seeking alternatives to grass can be friendly on both the wallet and the environment. Grass-Free Landscaping Alternatives For those who are ready to say goodbye there are many alternatives.

to grass,

* Ground cover: Homeowners who still desire the look of green can choose among

different types of ground cover that will quickly fill in the landscape. Clover, low-growing evergreen plants and ivy are some of the more popular ground cover alternatives. * Rocks: Decorative rocks intermingled

with native plants can add dimension and color to the yard. Once rocks are placed, there is little upkeep except for pulling the errant weeds. * Mulch: A less expensive alternative

to rocks is mulch. Mulch is available in different colors and types and can even be created by a homeowner by chip- ping trimmed branches from trees in the yard. It helps lock water into landscaping beds, decreasing the need for frequent watering. * Water features: Think about installing

a pond in the yard that can be bordered with stones and mulch. This will take up a good amount of space and can create a natural habitat for wildlife and even some low-maintenance pond fish. * Concrete or patio stones: Although

they’re not all-natural materials, patios can take up areas normally consumed by the lawn and create expansive outdoor entertaining areas. It will require an initial investment of the patio material, but once installed, patios don’t require significant maintenance. Homeowners can offset the concrete jungle feel by placing plenty of Your Hometown Internet Address

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When trimming bushes and trees in the yard, homeowners should be mindful that the best time to trim often depends on the type of bush, tree or shrub


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a home’s outside appearance is often a point of pride for homeowners. One commonly overlooked element of an aestheti- cally appealing home is the role trees can play. Trees can add an element of beauty to a yard while also playing a practical role, such as shading the grass from in- tense summer sun and acting as great support for hanging a hammock. While trees can add

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appeal to a homeowner’s property, they can also be an eyesore if not properly pruned. Homeowners hop- ing to get the most out of their trees should consider some pruning guidelines. * Fruit trees. If the buds

on a fruit tree have already started swelling, you’ve waited too long too prune. In general, fruit trees are best pruned in late winter or early spring. When pruning, be sure to remove all branches growing inward as well as limbs growing straight up. * Berry bushes. Berry

bushes are typically pruned in late fall or early winter, once you have finished

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harvesting the berries. When pruning berry bushes, keep in mind the importance of shape with respect to a berry bush’s aesthetic appeal. * Rosebushes. Rosebushes are generally best

pruned in late winter, with early spring the latest possible cutoff date. Remove any older shoots and leave between four and eight canes while remov- ing any that are growing inward. When cutting them down, try to cut them to right around two feet above ground, and cut close to an inch above a bud or strong shoot. * Evergreen shrubs. Evergreen shrubs won’t

flower, but they can be pruned after they have produced cones or shrubs. That typically occurs between late winter and early spring, so this can be done as the weather begins to warm up as part of your early season spring cleanup. * Evergreen trees. In general, evergreen trees

do not need to be pruned. It’s generally obvious when an evergreen does need to be pruned, as the tree will be noticeably larger and in obvious need of pruning. Evergreens that do need to be pruned typically need it in late spring or early summer, and they will likely not grow much after a good pruning. * Deciduous trees. Deciduous trees are gener-

ally only pruned for shaping. For those looking to shape, mid to late winter is the ideal time to do so. * Deciduous shrubs. Mid to late spring is often

the best time to prune deciduous shrubs. That’s generally after they have flowered, and it will be obvious when they are in need or pruning, as they will likely have lots of unsightly branches evident to the naked eye.

Grass-free alternatives, such as ground cover mixed with patio stones, can be an option for homeowners looking for less upkeep

potted plants and container foliage around the perimeter. * Decking: Another alternative to con-

crete and stones is a wood or composite material deck. Again, this structure will

Pruning Tips for Trees and Shrubs

increase outdoor living space and won’t require the level of routine maintenance needed to keep a lush lawn.

Gardening Tip

egetable gardens make great additions to any home garden, but home gardeners should know that

not all vegetables should be planted year- round. Vegetables vary as to their optimal growing conditions, which often hinge on climate. For example, tomatoes are popular among home gardeners. For the best tomatoes, the soil should be warm and the sun above should be hot. If planted in the winter, tomatoes aren’t likely to ripen and they could very well attract harmful garden pests. Some vegetables, however, actually prefer colder climates. Cauliflower, for instance, is not comforted by hot summer sun and will likely wilt before reaching maturity if planted in the summertime. Instead, cauliflower often thrives with colder soil and steady rainfall. When planting vegetables in a home garden, homeowners should always consider seasonal changes. Such changes enable gardeners to have fresh vegetables at their disposal almost year-round.

Green Up!!

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