I’m the person who, when the participants on House Hunters whine because there’s “no yard” or “not enough grass,” flashes a big smile and gives two thumbs up. Yard maintenance bites it.
I come from a long line of farmers. Some of them had quite a bit of land and even had hired hands. Farming is a very noble and necessary profession; I just clearly got skipped by the “plays with dirt” gene of my ancestors.
That’s why I think that when it comes to prettying up a property with greenery, less is genuinely more. Here are five reasons to make my case:
1. Maintenance. While it’s good exercise – and a great excuse to play with tools – it’s also a tremendous time suck. I wish I could reclaim some of the many hours I’ve spend doing yard work. There are so many better things I might have been doing. And, for those of you who don’t do it yourself, it’s a tremendous wallet suck, too!
2. Expense. Shrubs and plants aren’t cheap. Maintaining them and keeping critters away from them can be a full-time and costly job, too. Even landscaping rock and timbers have gotten rather pricey the past few years. Bottom line: the less you have, the less it costs.
3. Water usage. Those of you who live in the west know it’s crazy to try and keep lush vegetation properly watered. It’s just against your climate in most cases. And, your water supply is more challenged than in other parts of the country. But even those of us who only occasionally face water issues during especially hot summers should be interested in conserving this vital resource.
4. Blocking the view. Have you ever seen a house covered in vegetation – and wondered what it looked like underneath? The "clutter" approach to landscaping is always a bad idea, mainly on two counts. First, it hampers your home’s overall curb appeal. And second, no one, including you, knows what all that growth is covering up. It can easily mask damage to your home’s exterior that needs attention!
5. Safety. Large shrubs –or overgrown ones— can serve as cover for both peepers and thieves. This can be particularly dangerous as the vegetation can keep them out of sight while they break in your house.
There are other alternatives that are both environmentally friendly and attractive. You might consider:
- Low-maintenance bulbs, surrounded by a rock garden.
- Dwarf varieties of shrubs which need only an occasional trim and that do well in direct sunlight or shade (whichever your yard best affords).
- Paving stones to build smalls walls or walkways.
- Solar-powered lights.