Sprucing up your exterior involves a great many things. Adding a patio or deck, a pool, or simply changing up your landscaping design. Let’s focus on the latter: landscaping. Let’s focus in even further: ground cover. Your ground cover is maybe on of the most important elements when it comes to a front or back yard renovation. It’s going to take up a lot of space; the cost and upkeep will most assuredly be important factors in your decision making. Then there’s also the environmental impact of your choice. We’ll look at a few options and weigh them against these three elements.

Pavers/Patio
Creating a patio for your backyard is a great use for your space and entertaining. There are many ways you can go from even making this decision. The materials available include brick, cement, pavers, and flagstone. Pavers are great because they can be made in a wide variety of styles and colors. They range in price between $3 and $15 per square foot depending on the type of material. Since pavers are permeable – meaning they soak up water – they reduce stormwater runoff. As for the cons, colors will fade over time. They’ll need to be swept regularly and stains will need to be cleaned immediately.

Artificial Turf
If you really want a perpetually green lawn, then there’s nothing better than artificial turf. The cost is around that of the paver option, averaging between $5 and $20 per square foot. If you properly maintain your turf, you can get 15-20 years out of a top quality turf. However, the materials are not recyclable and installation wipes out natural biodiversity in the soil, not to mention it doesn’t take in any carbon and depletes the air quality. It needs to be kept free of debris, and washed and brushed weekly, more often if you have pets. While they have a drainage system for pet waste, if left unattended they can start to smell.

Drought Proof Plants And Grasses
Regular grass is, of course, an option. There are a number of varieties, they turn green in the winter when everything just sorta dies, and you have to constantly mow, weed, and water your lawn. It’s probably already in your yard, but it costs a lot of time and money to maintain. This is the biggest reason, perhaps, why drought-proofing yards is becoming more attractive. Not only does the general maintenance go down, but it helps conserve a precious natural resource, water.

Within this category, much like pavers, there are several options. If you’re wanting something very modern and stress free, you’ve got mulch or rocks of some shade or other for filler. Native plants can be arranged throughout these simple, yet stunning, canvases.

If you long for the traditional green lawn, grasses that are native to your climate are the next best thing. In sunny SoCal that includes fescue; a delightfully thin, hair-like blade that grows in mounds and looks like something straight out of The Lorax. Initially you’ll need to water and fawn over while they take root and get settled in. Once that’s happened, you are virtually in the clear. They’ll only need water if there’s a severe or extreme drought. Otherwise, the natural rainfall is enough to keep them going all by themselves.

For more unique artistry, you can choose from plants like Woolly Thyme, Prostrate Rosemary, Sedum of various colors, or even Ferns. Play with height, color, texture, and overall visual aesthetic. Best of all, any of these options sequester carbon, improve air quality, promote biodiversity, and they look beautiful.