Goodbye grass: Lawn-free living in Alberta

With drought-like conditions across Western Canada, Albertans are finding ways to keep their outdoor living space beautiful without grass.

3 ideas to keep your yard beautiful during a dry spell

Landscaping company, Eco-yards, rips the lawn out of a front yard in Calgary. (Eco-yards/Facebook)

With drought-like conditions across Western Canada, keeping your lawn lush and green can be a real pain in the grass.

As a result, many Albertans are opting for alternatives — or just tearing out their turf altogether.

1. Xeriscaping

If you decided to go lawn-free, that doesn't necessarily mean your yard has to become a rock garden.

There are lots of colourful perennial flowers that bloom at different times, as well as fruiting bushes like gooseberry and honeyberry, says Laureen Rama, owner of Eco-yards.

An example of "xeriscaping" — landscaping that reduces or eliminates the need for watering by replacing lawns with rocks, shrubs, and drought-tolerant plants. (Eco-yards/Facebook)

​Rama transforms Calgary gardens into xeriscapes — green spaces that use plants and shrubs that don't need much water.

She launched her sustainable landscaping company 11 years ago after developing a sensitivity to chemicals.

Rama says she could no longer work in an office, surrounded by people wearing fragrant shampoos and perfumes.

"I did what I loved, which was gardening. And it helped me get better and I became more passionate about helping people avoid chemicals. Lawns, you know, to keep them green you need to water them but you also have to fertilize them."

2. Fake grass

Airdrie homeowners Clay Aragon and Dean McMillan replaced their water-guzzling lawn a year ago with synthetic grass.

"It doesn't need water, so drought doesn't matter," said McMillan. "No weeds, no fertilizer, no pesticides, no herbicides. Nothing. And you always have a perfect lawn."

Airdrie homeowners Clay Aragon and Dean McMillan sit on their fake grass lawn. (CBC)

McMillan says the artificial turf is expensive to buy, but lasts up to 25 years and saves them money in the long-run because they don't have to buy any lawn equipment.

They keep it clean it with a broom, where they sweep off dust and stray leaves.

And when their dog decides to do his business on it? "We just spray it with water and it's fine and it doesn't smell," said Aragon.

3. Painted grass

If you're not ready to give up your lawn, but your municipality has enforced water restrictions, you can keep your grass looking lively by painting it green.

​"It's organic, non-toxic paint and you basically just put it in any home and garden sprayer, or a professional sprayer — mix it with water and you just spray it on your lawn," said Philip Setter, owner of GreenSetter in Calgary.

If the weather stays hot and dry, grass paint can last up to three months. (GreenSetter)

Depending on how much water you add to the paint concentrate, you can create a lawn that is the colour of a swamp or butter lettuce green.

Setter says once you apply the spray, you don't need to water your yard for the entire season.


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