Design and Planning
A thoughtfully designed landscape will save you time and money. Keep in mind that it's best to limit turf in places where it will not grow well or where maintaining it could harm water quality.
Turf is an excellent choice for high traffic areas, such as where children and pets play. It's also a good solution to erosion problems. However, turf areas can have a negative impact on the lake if practices like fertilizing or mowing are done incorrectly.
Think of grass as the carpet in an outdoor room and don't make the rooms any bigger than you'll need for family activities. Fill in the rest of your landscape with shrubs or other plants that don't require as much maintenance. When building the "walls" to your outdoor room, choose plants that will grow well under the specific conditions where they will be planted (consider soil, light, rainfall, and other conditions). Also be sure to keep or restore appropriate, deep-rooted vegetation along the banks of any water body such as a lake or stream. This will protect the banks from eroding. You'll even have your own private sanctuary for waterside wildlife! See Lakescaping for more lake-friendly design tips.
To avoid high maintenance and weed management costs, use alternatives in areas that are heavily shaded, narrow, steep, hard to water, easily saturated, or where the soil is packed down from many footsteps. Break away from the traditional view that most of your lawn should be covered in grass blades and consider what plant would grow best under the site conditions.
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