Green. Serene and peaceful. Having vivid green carpet around us is said to be the most the most relaxing sight. In a Mediterranean country with dry winters and scorching hot summers is it something that we can achieve or only the extra rich can afford or is it? While there is no questions about that maintenance costs of lawns (especially watering) can skyrocket on a dry island like Paros, there are some clever alternatives to grass to create a peaceful green carpet in our garden.
Ask any old lady in Greece about “buzi” and she will instantly advise against it saying rats and mice made nest in the plants and they cause more harm than pleasure. Now remember: 100%of the time they talk about Carpobrotus species (see pic. on the right) with full leaves and palm sized, round pink or white flowers. I have to agree with those wise old ladies, speaking from experience, but you might still want to use these, especially at coastal areas where constant salt sprays are a serious issue that these plants tolerate greatly and your optionms are limited.
The “heart leaved” Pigsface (Aptenia cordifolia) is a great lawn substitute. Very hardy, does not need, or only very scarce summer watering. Its small and fragile, making it impossible for rats to make nests underneath. Grows and covers surfaces fast. It brings out small, pink flowers in the springtime and most of the year it’s bright green. The only con would be, that it cannot be stepped on so it’s not ideal if you want kids playing on it. It can be easily established from cuttings pinched from anywhere. See my tutorial — > How to plant ground cover? (coming up!)
Now this is something, for I will be surely cursed by my garden design professor (God bless him), who said, a real horticulturist never lays that soulless stuff in a garden. Well, yes, normally I agree but…. special weather conditions ask for special measures! There are really nice artificial lawns available on the market nowadays and while they don’t come cheap, after the initial installation cost you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
They come in 5 qualities: ±6mm, ±8mm, ±9mm, ±14mm and ±30mm extra long grass size. The first two qualities are perfectly suitable for household use, and they cost from 9-15 EUR a sqm. They are sold in rolls of 2 or 4 meter wide. Before ordering make sure that you ask for a sample to see the quality yourself and about guaranties (round about 5 years is the average guarantee for artificial grass) because unfortunately cheap and very bad quantity products are also present on the market and they tend to fade badly after a few years.
Also note that in order to last they need to be placed by professionals, as there is more to it than rolling them out. The individual pieces need to be glued together with special resin and tapes than secured with galvanized pegs. Also proper soil bed preparation is essential for having a natural and long lasting outcome. The rolls are heavy, so make sure you arrange with a transport company to get them shipped over to the island.
If you have a bigger garden budget or would settle for a smaller grass patch, the real deal certainly guarantee the most satisfying results. I’m asked all the time why grass is so expensive in Mediterranean gardens. For two reasons:
1. The initial cost of laying a grass that includes ready grass rolls (1), irrigation system with sprinklers (2), (Note that here on Paros you need special wind resistant sprinklers because the wind is so strong, normal sprinklers would just spay water everywhere except on your precious lawn), water pressure stabilizer (3) at most places, because unfortunately the city water pressure is not consistent, and while in the wintertime it seems to be enough when the tourist season comes and the island fills with people water pressure becomes so low it just won’t be enough for your irrigation needs.
Also you have to add work costs to this list (gardeners and plumbers) to get the real picture. I always suggest ready grass rolls since they are more practical than sawing the seeds. You get a ready lawn in a couple of hours and the grass is weed free plus ready to be stepped on. If you want to sow seeds, you need to know, that the lawn will need at least 20 days to be strong enough to be stepped on and ideally 3 times of 5 minutes watering daily to grow strong. Also lots of handy work needed to remove weed seedlings, that vigorously sprout out in between the young and weak grass threads.
2. The maintenance costs of the grass are to be considered as well, since real lawn needs 2×5 minutes irrigation daily (early morning – late evening) to look beautiful. It might need chemical pest control (against grub worms) regular aerating, mowing to ensure firm and steady grows and raking to remove all surface debris blown on it by the wind, that would result in yellowing the grass .
Whatever you choose for your place our team is happy to help you in realizing your green dreams! Give us a call on 6932 316389 or contact us here.