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The grass isn’t always greener

Sustainable ideas for growing a yard resilient to the effects of climate change

Clover growing in a yard.

Published on April 10, 2019

People across Canada are feeling the effects of climate change as spring shifts into high gear. For homeowners with lawns in BC’s Lower Mainland, the evidence of Chafer Beetle-inspired damage is ubiquitous as crows, raccoons and other wildlife pull up the grass to feed on the larvae below.

Western Canada’s municipalities are bracing for another dry, hot summer, where green lawns are likely to turn brown and go dormant. Wildfires are expected to happen earlier and more often every year, affecting water restrictions and air quality. That means that for many people, maintaining that dreamy, lush green lawn just isn’t in the cards and the Chafer beetle is likely to win.

In spite of these challenges, there are things you can do to improve your yard for our rapidly changing climate.

Some residents annually apply beneficial nematodes (roundworms) to their lawns during egg-laying in July. While most have found success in this method, this is tricky and a brief timing window may be tough to work with, especially in the height of summer holidays.

Many people are already waking up to the idea of alternatives to the typical Kentucky blue grass or tall fescue of traditional grassy lawns. Front lawns up and down the West Coast are being replaced with a new aesthetic of seed mixes, including pollinator seed blends of micro clover mixed with low growing wildflowers and a specialized Chafer Beetle resistant blend of tall fescue and micro clover.

One organization, West Coast Seeds, has been testing plots of low maintenance lawn alternative seed blends with good success. Using plants native to your region will not only be beneficial to your yard, but also to the ecosystem in which you live.

Others are re-imagining their gardens without lawns altogether: carving out seating areas, growing gardens of drought tolerant native plants, ground covers and shade trees.

Some are turning their front lawns over to raised garden beds, moving their fruits and vegetables into the front yard. With climate change upon us, perhaps it is time for us to let go of that romantic ideal of the manicured green lawn and go with a low maintenance solution that better adapts to today’s challenges.