Replace some of your yard with flowers to cut maintenance, water use

In some parts of the nation, a lush green lawn is cause for derision because of the environmental impact of chemicals used to nourish it and the demand on water resources to irrigate it.

Not so in our area, where plentiful rain ensures rampant lawn growth.

But that brings its own problems — namely, the incessant demand of the mower.

Consider replacing some of your lawn with wildflowers to add texture, color, fragrance and attract butterflies to your home landscape, and cut down on mowing in the hot summer.

S TEP 1: Prepare the soil

Choose a sunny site (six hours of sun per day). Remove grass and weeds. Till the soil and wait for additional weeds to appear. Eliminate the weeds by spraying with glysophate or garden-strength vinegar, or cover with black plastic until weeds are dead. Rough up the soil to ensure full contact with seeds.

STEP 2: Sow the seeds

Online companies market ornamental wildflower seed mixes for the southeast region. Most include both perennials and annuals. Mixes are available in all-native species or in combinations of natives and non-natives. The best time to plant, per the LSU AgCenter, is fall, though early spring can also work. Options include broadcasting by hand for small areas or mixing with sand and applying with a lawn seed spreader for larger areas. Press seeds into soil with a board or roller, or rake the bed very gently. Mist the bed with your watering wand and keep it moist.

STEP 3: Groom the bed

After wildflowers sprout and bloom, look for weeds and pull them. Remove volunteer plants. Water if dry periods extend for a protracted period.

STEP 4: Mow

After wildflowers have completed their life cycle in the fall, mow the bed with blades set at the highest level. Mowing helps keep the area tidy and disperses seed, and using the high setting on the blades helps prevent harming any perennials that have begun to re-grow.

With any luck, the growth and blooming cycle will begin again, and you will be rewarded with years of colorful wildflowers.

R. Stephanie Bruno writes about houses and gardens. Contact her at rstephaniebruno@gmail.com.