(MS) -- Do you sometimes feel that lawn care is taking over your life? And depleting your pocketbook? If so, consider shrinking your yard.
Turning trouble spots and unused turf areas into low maintenance landscape beds with native plants simplifies lawn care. It also helps the environment and adds a little padding to your pocketbook.
Native plants that are acclimated to local soil and climate conditions require far less upkeep than grass or imported plants. Natives are species that grew in an area before people arrived with foreign plant material.
Once established, native plants are almost maintenance-free. They do take a couple of years to settle in and get growing. Be sure to water well initially and feed with an organic fertilizer that will turn the soil into a healthy loam. Remember that healthy soil yields healthy plants.
Find native plants by contacting your county extension agent or checking with a nursery that carries locally-grown indigenous plants. Don't relocate plants from the wild! Doing so could be illegal, and it would deplete local plant and animal habitats.
Added hardscapes like walkways and patios tie naturalized areas together and minimize lawn areas while maximizing yard usage. Small hardscapes can be installed in a weekend. There are do-it-yourself kits in home and garden centers, and many offer "How to" clinics that help you do the job correctly.
Hardscapes tend to buckle and crack over time. Be sure to use an eco-friendly underliner to prevent settling and shifting.
You don't have to reduce your lawn overnight. Tackle the job bit by bit. Every grassy spot you fill with native plants will be a step toward reclaiming your life from the lawn mower and returning your yard to its natural beauty.
Native Azaleas thrive with easy and convenient fertilizer spikes.