Top 9 Eco-Friendly Grass Alternatives for Sustainable Lawns

wildflower lining a pathway

Lush groundcovers, rainbow-like wildflower meadows, and stylish rock gardens are just a few of the top 9 eco-friendly grass alternatives you can try in your yard this year. We’ll tell you about other creative and gorgeous turf replacement ideas, as well. 

Why go eco on your lawn? Lawn work isn’t just physically exhausting. It also exhausts natural resources and pollutes the environment. Using a gas-powered lawn mower for an hour produces the same amount of emissions as 11 running cars. Fertilizing and weekly watering also strain ecosystems.

Making your lawn gentler in the environment isn’t difficult to do. It takes some planning, but the outcome is a lush, colorful, eco-friendly space that will charm your soul and make you feel good about your carbon footprint. 

What does “eco-friendly grass alternative” mean? 

An “eco-friendly” choice is designed to have minimal to no damaging effects on the environment. “Eco-friendly” is an umbrella term to describe practices that conserve water, decrease energy usage, and reduce pollution.

Grass alternatives typically refer to plants and mulch, gravel, rock, and other materials that can replace turfgrass. Some are better at mimicking classic turf’s uniform, lush look, while others create totally different, colorful, and stylish pictures.

Eco-friendly grass alternatives are those that thrive with:

  • Less watering
  • Little or no mowing
  • Few or no fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides
  • Minimal damage to the soil, water table, and air
  • Some support for soil microbiome, beneficial insects, and wildlife

Depending on the grass alternative you choose, your eco-friendly lawn also can help the environment by attracting pollinators and promoting biodiversity.

Best 9 eco-friendly alternatives to grass for your lawn

From groundcovers to hardscapes, you’ve got a treasure trove of options for a beautiful, sustainable lawn.

1. Groundcovers 

close-up of carpet sedum ground cover
Photo Credit: Michele Dorsey Walfred | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Groundcovers are low-growing plants that will fill out your eco lawn with zero mowing and little to no fertilizer. There’s one for every region and every lawn style, from creeping evergreens to springy moss to flowering perennials. 

To minimize maintenance and increase biodiversity, plant a groundcover native to your area

Make sure that the groundcover plant you choose isn’t invasive to your region: Groundcovers like creeping Jenny and ajuga are invasive in certain states. Check your state’s invasive species list or contact your local Cooperative Extension office. 

Best eco-friendly groundcovers for an alternative lawn

Your region, climate, soil type, and level of sunlight will determine the best groundcover for your yard. Check your plant hardiness zone to determine which groundcovers you can plant successfully instead of your grass lawn.

  • Carpet sedum (Sedum lineare), also known as stonecrop, is an evergreen, pollinator-friendly succulent that thrives in rocky areas with poor soil. It is heat- and drought-resistant, and it needs little to no fertilizer. 
  • Creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) is a fragrant, sun-loving perennial that will fill your lawn with tiny purple flowers in summer to attract pollinators. It doesn’t require fertilizer and needs little watering. 
  • Corsican mint (Mentha requienii) is an aromatic shade-lover that spreads well and lavishes your no-lawn garden with delicate lilac blossoms. It requires fertilizer and regular watering, but it’s a good no-mow alternative  — plus, you can cook and bake with it. It’s considered invasive in the Southeast. 
  • Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) is a dense, flowering groundcover that thrives in sunny areas, forming a mossy mat underfoot. It requires fertilization and needs to be watered in the heat of summer, but it resists diseases and attracts pollinators. 
  • Clover (Trifolium repens) is drought tolerant, doesn’t require mowing or fertilizer, and grows a dense, lush carpet sprinkled with white to pinkish flowers during spring. Microclover and strawberry clover are the best options for lawns.

Where to grow groundcovers in your yard

You can plant groundcovers between stepping stones or large tree roots. They’re also the most affordable turf replacement you can fill your lawn with. Most species need four to eight hours of sun and will tolerate partial shade. Clover has the highest shade tolerance.

Pros and cons of groundcovers as turfgrass replacement

Pros of groundcovers Cons of groundcovers 
✓ No mowing required
✓ Little or no watering required
✓ Many attract pollinators
✓ Protect against erosion
✓ Native groundcovers won’t require fertilizer
✓ Many perennial and evergreen options
Can be used as a full lawn substitute or as a landscaping accent
✗ Can be invasive to your region
✗ Take time to establish: As the saying goes: “The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap”
✗ Some require watering and trimming

2. Native plants 

Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
Photo Credit: NNehring | Canva Pro | License

To save energy and increase biodiversity, native plants are an excellent lawn choice. Because they’re adapted to your region, they require far less water than turfgrasses, and they won’t need fertilizer or frequent mowing.

The National Audubon Society calls native plants “the ecological basis upon which life depends, including birds and people.” Native plants provide valuable food and shelter for butterflies, birds, and bees.

Best native plants for an alternative lawn

Native plants vary by region. To find the best native plants for your area, use the National Wildlife Federation’s native plant finder or contact your local extension service. 

Some good examples by region include:

  • Northeast: Cardinal flower, golden Alexander, and carex bromoides
  • Northwest: Showy milkweed, Hall’s aster, bigleaf lupine 
  • Midwest: Blue wood aster, eastern columbine, wild bergamot
  • Southeast: Butterfly milkweed, lanceleaf coreopsis, golden fleece autumn goldenrod
  • Southwest: Spider milkweed, cusp blazing star, wrinkle-leaf goldenrod

Where to grow native plants in your yard

Native plants look great in your front yard as well as in your backyard. You can use our guide on eco-friendly lawn care and change your lawn DIY, step by step. Start by adding them in small patches to test species, colors, textures, and how they mix and thrive.

Or, you can hire a landscaping company, remove the entire turf, and go for a total eco-friendly yard makeover. 

Pros and cons of native plants as turfgrass replacement

Pros of native plantsCons of native plants 
✓ No-mow
✓ Low-maintenance
✓ Many repel mosquitoes
✓ Help manage rain runoff
✓ Little or no watering required
✓ Attract pollinators
✓ No fertilizer necessary
✓ Promote biodiversity
✓ Reduce air pollution
✗ Many native plants cannot handle heavy foot traffic
✗ Not a good option for play areas

3. Wildflower meadow

various types of wild flowers in a field
Photo Credit: Tim Green | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Native wildflower meadows are gorgeous, low-maintenance biodiversity powerhouses and an amazing idea for natural-looking lawns. They don’t need fertilizer, herbicide, or frequent watering, and they only need to be mowed once a year.

Best meadow wildflowers for an alternative lawn 

Some of the colorful stars that fill the wildflower meadows across America, attracting butterflies and bees, include:

  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Common madia (tarweed)
  • Arroyo lupine
  • Purple coneflower
  • Gum plant
  • Goldenrod
  • Aster
  • Milkweed
  • Yarrow
  • Golden Alexander 

Choose a high-quality mixture of flowers that are native to your region. Most wildflower mixes blend native flowers with native grasses. Grasses prevent erosion, crowd out weeds, and act as a food source and habitat for wildlife. 

Where to grow a wildflower meadow in your yard

Wildflowers tend to grow best in open, sunny areas with low foot traffic. Let them grow everywhere in your yard, and place some stepping stones to enjoy your morning walks. They also look amazing under your house windows, planted in well-defined flower beds.

It takes planning and some elbow grease to DIY a wildflower meadow, but the results will dazzle you, your neighbors, and local birds, butterflies, and bees. 

Pros and cons of wildflower meadow as turfgrass replacement

Pros of a wildflower meadow Cons of a wildflower meadow 
✓ Grows in poor soil
✓ Adds natural color to your landscape
✓ Does not need frequent watering
✓ No fertilizer required
✓ Little to no herbicide and pesticide required
✓ Great for pollinators
✓ Promotes biodiversity and reduces pollution
✓ Many wildflowers are native perennials
✗ Takes time and labor to establish seeds
✗ Sensitive to weeds
✗ Cannot tolerate high foot traffic, requires stepping stones
✗ Can look messier than a traditional lawn
✗ Requires a spacious yard

4. No-mow and low-mow grasses

eye level with low-mow buffalo grass
Photo Credit: Luxure | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0 AU

You don’t have to sacrifice a green lawn to go eco-friendly. There are low-mow and no-mow grasses for every region. Low-mow grass lawns reduce gasoline usage and greenhouse gas emissions from mower exhaust. Plus, they need less water and fertilizer than regular turfgrass. 

Note: You can further reduce your carbon footprint by choosing eco-mowing and trading your gas model for an eco-friendly electric grass trimmer.

Best no-mow and low-mow grasses for an alternative lawn

There are plenty of low-maintenance grasses and sedges to choose from. In cooler climates, hard fescue and fescue mixes are the way to go. In warmer climates, no-mow Zoysia (Zoysia tenuifolia), buffalograss, and centipedegrass are popular options:

  • Hard fescue (Festuca longifolia, brevipila, or trachyphylla) is a strong, fine-bladed grass that needs little watering and naturally protects against weeds. You’ll only need to mow your lawn once or twice a year. 
  • No-mow Zoysia (Zoysia tenuifolia) is a hardy warm-season grass that only needs two mowings per year (unlike other Zoysia varieties that need to be mowed weekly). It requires moderate watering and fertilization.
  • Buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides) is a hardy warm-season turfgrass that thrives in sunny areas and is heat- and drought-tolerant. For a meadow-like lawn, it only needs to be mowed once every spring. Buffalograss requires less maintenance than regular turfgrasses, but it still needs watering and fertilization. 
  • Centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) is an apple-green, slow-growing turfgrass. It requires much less mowing than the average turfgrass lawn, hence its nickname, the “lazy man’s grass.” Centipede thrives in hot, sunny southern lawns and requires infrequent, deep watering and very little fertilizer. 

Where to grow low-mow or no-mow grass in your yard

No-mow and low-mow grasses are the best alternatives for your front yard and places where you want to keep a somewhat uniform and neat appearance. 

As for your location and the climate in your area:

  • Hard fescue should be grown as in the North and Transition Zone (USDA planting zones 4 to 9).
  • No-mow Zoysia should be grown in the South and Transition Zone (USDA planting zones 6 to 11).
  • Buffalograss should be grown in the South and Transition Zone (USDA planting zones 7 to 10).
  • Centipedegrass should be grown in the South (USDA planting zones 7 to 10). 

Pros and cons of no-mow and low-mow grasses as turfgrass replacement

Pros of no-mow or low-mow grass Cons of no-mow or low-mow grass 
✓ No mowing
✓ Requires less frequent watering than a traditional lawn
✓ Requires less fertilizer than traditional turfgrass
✓ Low-maintenance and hardy once established
✓ Can tolerate moderate foot traffic
✗ Some no-mow and low-mow grasses are non-native
✗ Does not attract pollinators
✗ Requires watering, fertilizer, and herbicide

5. Rain gardens 

infographic explaining how a rain garden works
Infographic by Juan Rodriguez

Building a rain garden is a beautiful way to protect aquatic ecosystems, conserve water, and create a habitat for local wildlife. A rain garden will strain out harmful chemicals from rainwater before the water reaches local ponds, streams, and lakes. Plus, it will protect your yard from flooding.

Rain gardens are made up of native perennials, shrubs, and flowers you can plant in a depression on a slope. For single-family homes, rain gardens are typically 150 to 400 square feet, but even a small rain garden makes a big impact on local ecological health.

How a rain garden works:

  • When it rains, water flows down the slope from driveways, roofs, patios, and lawns. 
  • The rain garden acts like a bathtub, temporarily stopping and holding the water.
  • Permeable soil and deep plant roots filter the water, straining out nutrients, chemicals, and sediment. 
  • When the water reaches streams and lakes, it’s much cleaner, and it won’t shock aquatic ecosystems.

Best rain garden plants for an alternative lawn

To convert a lawn corner into a successful rain garden, you need plants that do well in standing water and drought, such as:

  • Irises
  • Coneflowers
  • Juncus (common rush)
  • Dogwoods
  • Asters
  • Ferns

Where to plant a rain garden in your yard

To install a rain garden, you need a slope at least 10 feet from building foundations. When choosing a location, take note of your lawn’s natural drainage pattern – the best place for a rain garden will be in a low spot where runoff collects. 

Call utility companies before digging to ensure you don’t hit any underground wires, cables, or pipes. 

Pros and cons of rain gardens as turfgrass replacement

Pros of a rain gardenCons of a rain garden
✓ No mowing or watering
✓ Pollinator-friendly
✓ Promotes biodiversity and creates a habitat for wildlife
✓ Conserves water
✓ No fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticide required for native plants
✓ Protects local waterways from harmful chemicals and algal bloom
✓ Reduces potential of home flooding
✓ Increases property value
✗ Can be more expensive to establish than a normal garden
✗ Building a rain garden can be a labor-intensive DIY project
✗ Can get clogged if surrounding landscape is not maintained
✗ Since they take more than 24 hours to drain, they can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes
✗ Requires some upkeep: Weeding, cleaning, and re-mulching

6. Rock garden

rock garden surrounded by colorful succulents
Photo Credit: cultivar413 | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Trying to grow lush, green grass in sandy, drought-prone regions exhausts resources and takes a toll on the environment. A rock garden lets you display your unique lawn style while also conserving water, decreasing fertilizer use, and cutting mowing out of the equation. 

Rock gardens can be state-of-the-art or understated: You can build stone pathways and layer rocks for a statuesque, multidimensional look, or you can simply ring a boulder with succulents, gravel, or sand.

Best rock garden plants for an alternative lawn

Plants chosen for a rock garden typically have a high tolerance to drought, such as:

  • Cacti and succulents
  • Ornamental grasses 
  • Native perennials
  • Drought-tolerant groundcovers

Rock gardens are also rich in hardscape elements, such as gravel, sand, stepping stones, and natural boulders.

Before you launch into a DIY rock garden, note the weight of the rocks you choose: One cubic foot of sandstone weighs about 150 pounds, and other rock types weigh more. You’ll need a dolly and a pry bar for leverage — or you may want to hire a professional lawn care crew.

Where to install a rock garden in your yard

Believe it or not, rock gardens look amazing in your front yard and can definitely improve your house appeal. 

If you’re planning it as a backyard landscaping project, remember to set up a poop area for your house pets. Some excellent eco-friendly grass substitutes for dogs are mulch (coco, cypress) and bark (pine, fir, cedar).

If you live in the drought-prone Southwest, replacing turfgrass with drought-tolerant plants can conserve natural resources and put money back in your wallet. Xeriscaping (a style of environmentally friendly landscaping meant to reduce the need for water) can also make you eligible for a governmental rebate

Pros and cons of rock gardens as turfgrass replacement

Pros of a rock garden Cons of a rock garden 
✓ Drought- and heat-tolerant
✓ Adds dimension to your landscape
✓ Prevents erosion
✓ No mowing and little watering required
✓ Little or no fertilizer required
✓ Can be pollinator-friendly and native
✓ Long-lasting once installed
✓ Rebates available in some states
✗ Boulders and rocks can be expensive
✗ Installing a rock garden yourself can be physically strenuous
✗ Some maintenance required: Must be raked out periodically
✗ Must be weeded during establishment
✗ More watering required during dry periods

7. Mulch and gravel

Large pile of mulch with a wheelbarrow next to it
Photo Credit: Joe Hoover | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Mulch and gravel are unsung heroes in the quest for an eco-friendly lawn. They may not be eye-catching, but they’re great at preventing weeds and reducing erosion. By using mulch and gravel, you can decrease the amount of herbicide, fertilizer, and sediment that flows into waterways.

Mulch keeps roots moist and gives them a nutrient boost, so you can conserve water and use less fertilizer. It’s a great addition to flower beds, rain gardens, shady spots under trees, and anywhere else where your soil could use some nutritional TLC. 

Spreading gravel around groundcovers and in rock gardens is an eco-conscious way to improve water drainage while suppressing weeds and keeping plants firmly in place. 

A gravel walkway is a good alternative to less permeable surfaces. Unlike traditional stone pavers, gravel is porous, allowing water to drain into the soil instead of forcing it to flow directly into waterways. 

Best mulch and gravel options for an alternative lawn

When replacing turf with mulch or gravel, you’ll want something that looks nice. Especially if you’re planning to cover rather large areas, consider something like:

  • Tree bark
  • Wood chips
  • Straw
  • Granite gravel
  • Marble gravel
  • Pea gravel
  • Basalt gravel

Where to add mulch and gravel in your yard

Wherever you live, you can add gravel as an eco-friendly lawn accent around fire pits, under arbors, and around pathways and patios. Mulch and gravel also fit well in rain gardens and inclines where plants struggle to grow. 

You can add mulch to almost any area that needs a nutrient boost, like herb gardens, kitchen gardens, and flower beds.

However, note that certain plants thrive in poor soil conditions. Wildflowers, succulents, and other native plants may prefer rocky, sandy soil with minimal nutrients. 

Pros and cons of mulch and gravel as turfgrass replacement

Pros of mulch and gravel Cons of mulch and gravel 
✓ No mowing or fertilizing required
✓ Prevent erosion
✓ Decrease stormwater runoff
✓ Suppress weed growth and decrease the need for herbicide
✓ Easy DIY choices for areas where grass struggles to grow
✓ Mulch improves soil and plant health
✗ Will not be the stars of your lawn: You’ll need other landscaping elements
✗ Mulch discourages wildflower growth
✗ Gravel requires edging to stay in place
✗ Depending on the color and type of the rock, gravel can get hot underfoot

8. Hardscapes

construction of a stone patio
Photo Credit: Andrew Malone | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Installing a hardscape feature can minimize your lawn work and give your ecosystem a lift. You won’t have to mow, water, fertilize, or use harsh chemicals. 

Best hardscapes for an alternative lawn

The most popular lawn hardscapes Americans add to their yards are:

  • Patios
  • Decks
  • Fire pits
  • Outdoor kitchens
  • Fountains
  • Paved pathways

Hardscaping can benefit the environment. However, hardscapes are also … hard. 

Many hardscape surfaces are impermeable, which means they do not allow water to penetrate. This forces stormwater runoff and triggers the heat island effect (hard surfaces absorb and re-emit heat more than surrounding greenery, raising the air temperature). 

Fortunately, there are more eco-friendly hardscape options like permeable pavers that are available for homeowners. They tend to cost more than traditional options, but they protect aquatic ecosystems from stormwater pollution.

To mitigate the heat island effect, choose a hardscape with high solar reflectance

Where to hardscape in your yard

Wherever you live, you can add hardscaping features to your lawn. It’s important to make sure the area is even before you begin the installation. For complex hardscaping projects, you may want to call a local expert or crew to put your landscape design into motion. 

Pros and cons of hardscape as turfgrass replacement

Pros of hardscapes Cons of hardscapes 
✓ Add dimension and interest to your landscape
✓ Increase curb appeal and home value
✓ No mowing required
✓ No fertilizer, herbicide, or pesticide needed
✓ Easy maintenance
✓ Long-lasting
✓ Fantastic for social gatherings
✗ More expensive than garden and planting options
✗ Can be impermeable, contributing to runoff
✗ Can trigger the heat island effect
✗ Do not attract pollinators or promote biodiversity 

9. Flower beds and borders

To stop mowing and start attracting pollinators, flower beds and borders will give you gorgeous blooms while decreasing the amount of space devoted to turfgrass. Bordering your flower beds will reduce erosion and protect against nutrient-filled runoff flowing into waterways. 

Best flower bed and border options for an alternative lawn

For a healthy, lush garden, choose flowers that best suit your region, soil type, and sun exposure. Pick:

  • Native perennial flowers
  • Shrubs
  • Succulents

Maximize compost and minimize synthetic fertilizer to nourish your flowers. If fertilizer is needed, choose an organic variety

If you’re interested in eco-conscious eating, consider a vegetable or kitchen garden.

Where to plant flower beds and borders in your yard

You can plant flower beds around your home exterior, beneath trees (if your flowers are shade-tolerant), next to a footpath, or in terraced beds on a slope. Flower beds can brighten up small spaces in your yard where grass is difficult to grow. 

If you live in a drought-prone region, you may want to consider other grass alternatives, as flower beds require regular watering, and many flowers prefer moist soil.

Pros and cons of flower beds and borders as turfgrass replacement

Pros of flower beds and borders Cons of flower beds and borders
✓ No mowing required
✓ Less fertilizer and chemicals needed than for a traditional turfgrass lawn
✓ Borders prevent erosion and decrease runoff
✓ Vibrant flowers are visually appealing
✓ Resilient once established
✗ Establishment requires fertilizer and frequent watering
✗ May require herbicide and pesticide
✗ Without adequate drainage, roots can rot
✗ Beds require some maintenance: cleaning and trimming

Why should I use fewer fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides?

Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are expensive and can harm both your lawn and your local ecosystems. This is why eco-friendly lawn alternatives are a great option.

  1. If too much fertilizer is applied, lawns can suffer from fertilizer burn and soil imbalances, which can stifle plant growth and kill grass.
  2. Fertilizer runoff causes harmful algal blooms in aquatic environments.
    • Blooms create a “dead zone,” an area of extremely low oxygen where plants and animals either die or are left without a home.
    • Overgrown algae can release toxins that contaminate drinking water and cause illnesses in humans and pets.
  3. Pesticides kill more than just the pests: They also can harm native wildlife and decrease biodiversity.
    • Honeybee and bird populations decline with the use of harsh chemicals.
    • Soil quality declines as microorganisms die. 
  4. Routine application of herbicides and pesticides causes genetic resistance to develop. It becomes increasingly difficult to eliminate weeds and pests, so increasingly toxic chemicals must be used. 
  5. Pesticides can be harmful to children and pets. 
    • Routine use of pesticides may increase the risk of autoimmune diseases, allergies, and inflammation. 
    • Pesticides contain carcinogenic ingredients

Why should I conserve water?

Eco-friendly landscaping is a great way to reduce water usage. Water is a renewable resource, so outside of lowering your bills, why use less of it? 

For one, water takes energy and time to clean. 

  • The EPA estimates that “drinking water and wastewater systems account for approximately 2 percent of energy use in the United States, adding over 45 million tons of greenhouse gasses annually.”
  • Every time you use water, it must be treated to remove pathogens and contaminants before it can go back into circulation. 
  • While the water is being treated, it isn’t available for consumption. 
  • Conserving water means that less of it will have to cycle through the extensive wastewater treatment process each day. 

Water isn’t spread out evenly across the world, and it’s not easily portable.

  • A water shortage in San Francisco can’t just be fixed by driving or flying in water from Baton Rouge. 
  • Homeowners in drought-prone areas must often restrict their lawn watering so there is enough water for people to drink. 

No matter where you live, it’s a great idea to conserve water, both for your bank account and the environment. Not needing to water your lawn every week is a fantastic place to start. 

FAQ about eco-friendly grass alternatives

How long will it take my low-mow or no-mow grass to start growing? 

According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “a low-growing turf lawn will ‘green up’ about two weeks after seeding,” depending on the weather and water levels. Your grass type will determine when seedlings emerge. You can check specific germination rates for an expected timeline.

I want to be more eco-friendly, but my lawn has a lot of shade. What should I do? 

Groundcover is your best friend. There is a host of shade-loving groundcovers that will grow where no turfgrass dares to enter. Check out shade-tolerant perennials and groundcovers like English ivy, ajuga, hosta, sweet woodruff, and pachysandra

I’ve seeded my wildflower meadow. How long will it take to bloom?

It generally takes six to 12 weeks for wildflowers to begin blooming, depending on your climate and the seed mix you selected. Don’t panic if your meadow doesn’t immediately look the way you imagined it would. Annual flowers will visually dominate your meadow in the first year, while perennials may not bloom until the second or third year. 

So many options for an eco-friendly landscape!

Whether groundcovers, wildflower meadows, or hardscapes catch your eye, going eco-friendly doesn’t mean settling for uninspired, limited options. If you’re craving more creative lawn choices, check out Lawn Love’s “12 Inspiring Alternatives to Grass.” If you’d like an extra pair of green thumbs as you go green, call a local lawn care professional to help out with planning, planting, and installation.

Main Photo Credit: Elena Photo | Canva Pro | License

Maille Smith

Maille-Rose Smith is a freelance writer and actor based in New York. She graduated from the University of Virginia. She enjoys watching theatre, reading mysteries, and listening to psychology podcasts. She is an orchid enthusiast and always has a basil plant growing in her kitchen.