Looking for some good lawn alternatives? Are you sick of spending your Saturday mornings mowing the grass and combating a troublesome lawn? Perhaps you’re tired of pouring valuable drinking water onto an unsustainable patch of grass?
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For generations North Americans have felt that the only way to have a nice, tidy looking yard is to have a “lush” lawn of green grass. Meanwhile in many parts of of the country drinking water is getting scarce and droughts are plaguing the crops.
We need to rethink our options. And that is what I’ve started doing.
What are some good lawn alternatives? I’ll share my research with you.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Xeriscaping?
- 2 What can I use instead of grass for my lawn? — 7 grass-free lawn alternatives
- 3 Up Next:
What is Xeriscaping?
Xeriscaping comes from a combination of the word “xeri” meaning dry, and “scaping” from landscaping. So it is basically landscaping or yard-scaping that require little to no water.
It is a great option for those of us who live in arid to semi-arid environments.
But it is also a great idea for people who don’t want to spend hours watering, trimming, mowing, and weeding their grass lawns.
It isn’t just rocks and gravel. Many of the plants that are native to the area where you live have evolved and adapted to live in those growing conditions.
So planting native plants is a great way to ensure you have a yard and garden suitable for your area.
What can I use instead of grass for my lawn? — 7 grass-free lawn alternatives
1) Native Plants among Rock Pathways
A great grass alternative is using the plants that are native to your region. These are plants that have naturally adapted to survive in your area’s climate and water demands.
I like this option because the plants will continue to draw carbon out of the atmosphere whereas a rock-only yard won’t do this.
Below is an example of using native and low-maintenance plants to create a great “grass-free” yard.
2) Native Grasses
This is slightly different than the option above because this focuses on grasses that are native to your area.
The idea mentioned above is using rocks and interspersing with native plants.
But this idea is actually still a lawn, but it is a lawn comprised of grasses that have evolved to grow in your area. This is called native grasses.
The picture below gives you a general idea of what I mean (just imagine it being your front yard and not the vast open prairies).
Check with your local nursery or garden center to see what grasses grow in your area (and that require little water or fussing).
3) Non-grass Ground Cover
There are lots of gorgeous, low-growing, sprawling plants that make excellent lawn alternatives.
A great example is ‘creeping thyme’ as shown in the picture above. In fact, many people establish a creeping thyme lawn. It is soft yet hardy, tough and stands up to foot traffic.
Another example is ‘creeping jenny’ that you can see in the picture below. (A lot of “creeping” going on here.)
For more examples of sprawling ground cover, here is an article that highlights more options.
4) Container plants among rocky ground cover
The first idea I presented was native plants among a “bed of rocks” and this idea is similar but instead of planting native grasses in the ground, this one utilizes plants in containers (aka potted plants) among the rocks.
In fact, in the picture above they have veggies planted in the container and it looks really good.
Depending on where you live perhaps you can have some succulents cleverly planted and dispersed in your yard.
5) Artificial Turf
If you want the look of a lawn, but without the watering and mowing then perhaps you’d want to go with an artificial turf.
Fake grass, or artificial turf, has come a long way in the last few decades and some of them look real good.
Just the other day I saw a man in his front yard sweeping off his patch of artificial turf with a corn broom. It looked kind of funny, but while his neighbours were mowing and raking and weeding, he sweeps then he’s done.
Your local hardware store may carry artificial grass, or you may have a local contractor that specializes in it, but if you don’t I came across this product on Amazon. It is currently well-reviewed with 4.5 stars out of 5 with over 100 customer reviews.
6) Mulch as ground cover
We often think of mulch as just something to throw between the rows in our garden or perhaps in a flower bed.
But it can be used as ground cover and can look good when punctuated by some colorful shrubs.
This particular yard uses some short round wood posts as edging, which I think looks good. You can see it needs some weeding done between the wood edging and the sidewalk, but likely not as much weeding as a full lawn would require.
Depending on where you live you may not want to have mulch go directly up to your house though.
Some insects make their home in the mulch and then can potentially damage your house. If that is the case with your region you may want to opt for some stones around the perimeter of your house (inorganic material), then mulch to the cover the remainder of your yard.
I like the paver pathway in this yard too.
7) Let it go… let native plants “take over” your yard
Let a combination of native flowers, perennials and shrubs “take over” your lawn.
You’ll Attract Birds, Butterflies and Bees
Planting a variety of native plants and flowers may attract a variety of birds, butterflies and bees to your front yard.
For more information on having a native garden take over you lawn check out this article from the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Above is a picture of my side yard at my first house. I let some perennial and annual flowers take over the area. It was a lovely look and I didn’t need to mow it!
I hope you’ve found some inspiration in these non-grass lawn alternatives.
Not only will they look great, but you’ll get your Saturday back!