Does Less Mowing Mean Less Money?

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This morning I came across an interesting blog post over at Canadian Dream . The author's plan is to save on the costs associated with lawn care by replacing it with other landscaping.  While there will be some upfront cost, the idea is to reduce maintence cost and effort over the long term by going a different route than just plain old green grass.  He plans to spread the work and expense over several years.

I found this very interesting because it is exactly what my across-the-street neighbor has chosen to do with his lawn.  From the second floor of my house I have a great view down onto his creation.  Here it is through my rainy day kitchen window:

I think that it's a really good look.  It is definitely distinctive and unusual for our street.  The rope and post front fenceline are a nice nautical tie-in which fits with our city's overall "theme".  My neighbor also builds decorative lighthouses, he has one on the other side of his driveway.

Whether or not this is a worthwhile endeavor as a money saver depends on a few things.  First, how much effort are you putting into your lawn currently?  Someone who is watering, fertilizing, paying for weed control service, and regularly mowing with a gas mower is spending a lot more on lawncare than someone who never waters and only mows when the length of the grass starts lowering neigborhood property values.  

Second, how long are you going to live at this location?  A decision to go this route involves a lot of upfront cost and effort.  Rocks and gravel generally aren't available for free.  Smart shopping at yard sales could get you the decorative accents but there is still going to be money paid for them.  Wheelbarrowing and raking everything into place could take a couple days of heavy labor.  It might take a lot of tanks full of gasoline saved to offset the cost of a grassless lawn.

Do you use your lawn regularly?  I have two young boys who like to play on our front lawn while their mom and I enjoy an afternoon cup of coffee.  A rock garden might not be safe to run in, and if it were gravel raked into a design it wouldn't last long with a 2 year old around.  We certainly would never do it in our back yard, though we are converting more and more of that into garden

Maybe most importantly, do you like caring for your grass?  Sure, it is a "chore" but lots of people (myself included) can find it a relaxing way to spend an hour on a beautiful summer day.  Weeding and everything else isn't the greatest, but actually firing up the lawnmower and making the lawn look fantastic is a satisfying task.

Do you dislike the ongoing cost and effort of lawn care enough to do something like this?  Do you think it would  ever pay for itself in your situation?  What do you think of my neighbor's "lawn", or one like it that you know of in your area?

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