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WITH our ever increasing work-loads, plus the fear of another period of drought conditions, gardeners think twice before choosing lawn as an extensive groundcover.

Several issues need to be considered when choosing an alternative.

The first is usually the cost of the material.

Second, ask yourself how much maintenance will be needed, and make sure the material looks good with your house.

If your block is on a slope, will it cope with issues like water run-off?

Understand what the area will be used for most, and by whom, and understand how serviceable it needs to be.

Will a soft or hard surface be required?

Many people still want a green area so an alternative plant to grass could be considered.

Your choice will depend upon how often it is to be used and what for.

Chamomille “Treneague” is a suitable plant with soft, feathery foliage, and so is the creeping Thyme.

There are some lovely Grevillea groundcovers, which are very good in our (usually) hot summers.

Other alternatives are some of the native grasses, such as Wallaby grass or Kangaroo grass.

Gravel is often chosen as an alternative to grass because plants can be grown in it.

Often plants will self-sow all through it and that softens what can be a harsh effect.

There are many gravels available, in both various sizes and colours.

Pavers are very popular too, and once again, there are many from which to choose.

You can use slate, sandstone or terracotta.

Stone is an alternative material, and yet another is concrete, often mixed with another material which changes the colour and texture.

If you want to create a “feature” lawn in a small area, mosaic can be adopted, or else something like recycled glass beads.

An area like wooden decking can be introduced.

Tan-bark remains a popular choice, or within a native garden – leaf-mulch.

So long as your material meets your requirements and suits the surrounding characteristics, the choice is yours.

By PRUE SMITH

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