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A luxurious green lawn can be pretty—but unless you live in Kentucky or Virginia, you probably spend more time, money and water than it’s worth to maintain that outdoor carpet. You may have considered killing your grass and starting from scratch, but there are less drastic ways to brighten up your yard and start converting it to a landscape you can be proud of—without a ton of effort.

1. Border With Hardy Natives

If you’ve got a big, featureless lawn and you rarely use the corners, convert those corners into xeriscaped beds. You can kill off the grass in those areas by covering it with plastic for a few weeks in hot weather, or newspapers for a few months. Turn up the ground and plant native flowers and grasses from your local nursery. Once they’re rooted, they’ll rarely (if ever) need water.

2. Introduce a Native Grass

Grasses grow wild in most areas of the world. All you need to do is find one that’s suited to your area. No, it may not look like a soft shag carpet, but on the other hand, you’ll have fewer dead patches and pest problems! Start by sowing a small patch of a native turfgrass, and over time, allow it to spread and take over your lawn.

3. Do Less to Get More From Your Grass

Mowing and sprinkling isn’t always enough—in fact, it’s often too much. By doing your chores a little less enthusiastically, you might just end up with a healthier lawn. Mowing less often (or raising the blade on your lawnmower) means longer grass, which means the roots will stay shaded, retaining water and avoiding thatch. And switching your sprinkler to run twice a week for twice as long means the ground will become saturated, helping the roots stay strong while saving you water. Finally, let your grass clippings and autumn leaves stay on the lawn instead of raking them up. They’ll protect and feed your grass through the hot and cold weather, providing an automatic compost so you can fertilize less frequently.

And if you’re tired of pushing the mower, why not get a goose to mow for you? Now that’s easy.

Image: Krystian Olszanski

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