The traditional green lawns that we know and love today first became popular in Western Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that the popularity of lawns soared in the United States, in conjunction with invention and mass production of the lawnmower. Today, green lawns seem to be a ubiquitous part of the American Dream, occupying between 30 million and 40 million acres of land.

With lush, green lawns comes lots of maintenance. Between mowing, fertilizing and irrigating, lawns add up to be costly not only to homeowners but also to the environment. Lawnmowers that are used to maintain them contribute to carbon dioxide pollution.

Typically, fertilizers are applied in over-abundance, or at incorrect times, leaving excess on the ground. This leftover fertilizer is later washed away by rain into our local waterways and storm drain networks, which eventually discharge directly into local rivers and streams.

And finally, to maintain the green lawns throughout the scorching South Carolina summers, average homeowners will use 30 percent or more of their monthly water consumption irrigating their lawns and gardens.

Fortunately, there are many options when considering the landscape around your home. Xeriscaping, or “dry landscaping,” is a form of landscaping and gardening that utilizes drought-tolerant and native plants, making for a low maintenance, water conserving and economic alternative to a primarily turf lawn. A variety of plants can be used in xeriscape gardens, including succulents, trees and shrubs, perennials, ornamental grasses and drought-tolerant annuals. A few examples of colorful native perennials that work great in xeriscape gardens include coneflowers (Echinacea species), black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia species) and yarrow (Achillea species). Xeriscape gardens can be full of color, texture and depth. It is certainly not limited to rocks and cacti, which is what many people think of when they see the term “xeriscape.”If you are interested in learning more, Clemson Extension’s Home & Garden Information Center has a vast amount of resources online at hgic.clemson.edu or by phone at 1-888-656-9988.

If you just cannot imagine parting ways with your lush, green lawn, that is OK, too! To avoid over-applying costly fertilizers and pesticides, first bring a soil sample to your local extension office. For $6, we send your sample off to our lab and can give you customized results based on what you are trying to grow. This can save homeowners lots of time and money when it comes to caring for their lawns or other crops.

Enjoy this beautiful weather we have been having by incorporating these practices into your lawn care. That way, you spend more time enjoying your yard than working in it.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.