A welcoming yard without the work

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Not everyone wants to mow the grass, trim the edges, pull the weeds and plant geraniums in their yards. Some folks would rather sit in the shade and read a book or they might prefer to get out of town on the weekends. What they want is a yard with easy upkeep and minimal gardening.

Zero-maintenance yards are almost impossible to achieve because there is always going to be some upkeep, even if it’s just to sweep a patio or rake the leaves, said Tami Becker of Becker’s Landscaping.

Last summer Becker had a client with a small rectangular-shaped yard that stretched along the back of the house. Currently the home backs onto an empty field and though it may soon be developed, it was often a source of weeds.

“They already had a fence and a brick patio and they wanted a yard that was private, like an outdoor room,” Becker said.

Instead of a deck, they wished to keep their patio and though they wanted the green look of grass, they didn’t want to mow it. The solution was three strips of artificial turf and shrub beds covered with a layer of rock to keep down the weeds.

“The shrubs never need trimming, the brick is easy to clean and the grass doesn’t need cutting or watering. There are no annual flowers so there is virtually nothing to do in that yard except for a bit of spring and fall cleanup of leaves and needles,” said Becker.

Artificial turf is not an inexpensive solution and depending upon the maker, can cost 10 to 15 times as much as sod, but it is long lasting if it is correctly installed.

“It’s like the difference between having laminate or having granite in your kitchen,” Becker said.

Forever green

Not all artificial grass is the same, said Gary Selanders, of Evergreen Turf, as he explained that the kind of grass used in the St. Albert Minor Football field is stronger and more rubbery than the stuff installed in private yards.

“It has an altogether different feel. Yard turf is softer and looks and feels like real grass,” Selanders said.

To install the turf, the older grass and topsoil is removed and a four-inch thick layer of crushed gravel is put down. Next the turf is cut to fit and then put down over the gravel. A layer of silica sand is put on top to hold the turf and make the blades of grass stand up.

Pets love the stuff, Selanders said, but if there is a dedicated dog run, he recommends a more durable artificial turf should be used.

If your wish is for your own putting green, Evergreen Turf can install that too, and again, this type of turf will feel slightly different from lawn grass. The golf-green fibres will be rolled to simulate a real green, but if the home-owner requests it, a fringe turf can be placed on the edge for practicing chip shots. If the yard is big enough, it’s possible to chip shots from 150 yards out that will safely land on the green without damaging the polyethylene fibres.

Weather should not make any difference to good quality artificial turf, Selanders said.

“Snow will not harm it and the fibres will pop back up,” he said.

For Becker’s client, only one addition was needed to make the yard a comfortable summer refuge.

“They wanted a gazebo on the patio,” she said, adding that the owners have a youngster and the turf works well as a play area because it stays clean and tidy all summer.

“The fake grass softens the angles of the yard and adds a green look. It’s effective and pretty and very welcoming,” Becker said.

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About Author

Susan Jones has been a freelance writer for the St. Albert Gazette since 2009, following a 20-year career at the St. Albert Gazette. Susan writes about homes, gardens, community events and people.