How to Choose a Lawn Shape

The best shape for your lawn is determined by its use, the landscape, appearance, and your desired maintenance level.


+ enlarge image The shape of your lawn affects how you use it and the time you spend taking care of it.

The most important factor in determining the best shape for your lawn is the way you plan to use it. If the lawn will be for recreation and entertaining, it should have a large, open area, such as that provided by circular and rectangular shapes. Most lawn sports, such as croquet, badminton, volleyball, putting, and boccie ball, also require an open space; most need a playing area.
Find ways to integrate lawn in your front yard.

 

The landscape also plays a role in the shape of the lawn. Some of the most interesting lawn designs trace the shadow patterns of the house and trees during the growing season. Although some types of grass tolerate shade, most require at least six hours of sun a day. In boggy or rocky areas or those with shallow roots from nearby trees and shrubs, the soil and terrain can be modified to handle turf, or the lawn should be located elsewhere.

If your primary concern is appearance, the site itself will present the primary limiting factors. You might choose a geometric shape to project a strong sense of order, control, and formality. Open or free-flowing shapes are more playful, relaxed, and natural.

Considerations when estimating maintenance are the total number square feet to mow and the total number of linear feet to edge. Undulating lines increase the amount of edging and trimming that is required.

Related article: A No-Mow Backyard Landscape Plan

Circular

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The most formal lawn shape, a circular lawn makes a strong visual statement. Level circular lawns are well-suited to entertaining. When laying out a circular lawn, it is worth taking the time to get the circles perfect. If this style appeals to you, you might also like ovals and half circles.

Rectangular

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Rectangular lawns lend themselves best to recreation. A rectangular lawn can be seen in one glance. This lawn shape is more suited to a formal than a natural garden. Ease of maintenance makes rectangular shapes an attractive choice. Different mowing patterns add a creative touch.

Open

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The open lawn is the most relaxed shape. Gently flowing lines have a soothing effect on the eye and the mind and fit well with an informal garden. This type of lawn often results when you allow the shade patterns of trees to determine the shape of the lawn. Open-shape lawns are suitable for recreation and entertaining.

Free-Flowing

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Free-flowing lawns are ideal for creating pocket gardens. This free-flowing lawn provides five different garden areas. This shape has the added benefit of illusion; not allowing the eye to see all the lawn at once draws a person into the garden, adds mystery, and may make the garden appear larger. Be aware of how much edging is required with this shape.

Related article: A Three-Year Landscape Plan

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