16 Landscaping Ideas for Designing a Beautiful Yard with No Lawn
Tear Up Your Turf
Make mowing the lawn a thing of past by tearing up your turf and added a large flagstone patio for gathering and entertaining. This family chose to give up sweating behind a mower and instead put in a large patio and a garden path with a fountain. The last remaining strips of lawn can be easily tamed with a push mower in just a few minutes.
Carve a Slope
In sloping backyards, mowing can be even more of a chore (not to mention a workout). The owners of this home chose to carve out space in their slope to create a sunken brick patio. A stone retaining wall keeps the slope in place and provides overflow seating when guests stop by.
Pave with Stone
Transform a weedy lawn into a gorgeous patio by setting irregular paving stones into the ground like puzzle pieces. Tough, creeping plants like Corsican mint and thyme can fill the spaces between the stones, because they can handle light foot traffic and compete with any weeds that try to grow in the gaps. They'll also add a light fragrance to your outdoor space.
Widen a Path
If you already have a garden path, you can double or triple its size to cut down on lawn chores and add more living space. Here, a flagstone path that connected the side and back of the house was widened to create an inviting, low-maintenance corridor. The space is also wide enough to add a few easy-care container gardens.
Swim, Don't Mow
Even small backyards can be transformed to feel like a luxury resort. In this suburban backyard, a small patch of lawn was replaced with an irregular shaped in-ground swimming pool that ties together four small entertaining areas. What was once a large, labor-intensive lawn is now the centerpiece for family fun.
Terrace a Slope
Ever try to push a mower up and down a steep hill on a hot day? Not fun. Instead, the owners of this sloping backyard terraced their entire backyard, leaving just a ribbon of grass on top to deal with. The rest of the space was held back with a stacked stone wall and boulders. A pressed concrete patio provides enough space for outdoor dining.
Consider a Courtyard
Before this backyard was remodeled, the only view was of a fading green lawn struggling to survive under the nearby trees. But help came when the homeowners replaced the tired turf with a gravel courtyard punctuated with circular concrete pavers. The result? A welcoming and low-maintenance courtyard that looks as inviting from ground level as it does from above.
Use Every Square Inch
When you plan a no-mow backyard, it’s important to put every square inch of space to work. For example, this urban lot is paved with tightly fitted flagstone pieces interspersed with small streams of river rock to create a natural, easy-care environment. A deck made from composite materials anchors the opposite end of the yard. Sheared evergreens and trees complete the setting while also adding shade and additional privacy.
Keep Seasons in Mind
Always remember that the less lawn you have, the more time you’ll have to enjoy the outdoors. So, it’s important to keep the seasons in mind as you plan your backyard. Here, for example, the owners knew they wanted to enjoy their yard as long as possible in the fall, so they surrounded their stone patio with shrubs and trees that would provide bold autumn color. They also included a portable fire pit to warm up chilly nights.
Small spaces don’t have to look cramped if you’re smart about mixing paving materials. Here, a narrow backyard looks a lot wider than it actually is because the bricks were laid in several complementary patterns that draw the eye through the space. The two small patios are separated by a strip of concrete that creates the illusion that the area has doubled in size.
Plant a Garden
Why not put your backyard to work for you? Replace your time-consuming lawn with a garden that’s attractive and edible. Here, a narrow ribbon of turf was removed and a lush vegetable garden was added in its place. Rows of lettuce, kale, beans, and other colorful crops provide interest and lots of delicious meals.
Deck the Yard
If you have wet or uneven ground, why not deck the area and sell your lawn mower at your next garage sale? Here, a shady, muddy backyard was given dry footing with the addition of a large raised deck. Eliminating mowing and weeding chores will give you a lot more time to relax with family and friends in your elevated backyard.
Grow Flowers, Not Grass
Keeping a lawn in top form takes a lot of work and uses valuable resources, including fertilizer, water, herbicides, and gas for the mower (unless you go electric). Instead of spending time and money just to keep your grass happy, why not grow flowering plants instead? Here, a hard-to-mow scrap of lawn on a backyard hillside was replaced with a gorgeous collection of roses, vines, and perennial flowers. The garden provides the family with armloads of fresh flowers and keeps the neighborhood birds and butterflies nourished.
Plan for Family Fun
Just removing the lawn isn’t enough to turn your backyard into a showplace. You need to think about how you want to use the space and build the landscape around your family’s needs. For example, in this backyard, the lawn was covered up with large slabs of concrete spaced a few inches apart. Then, the family added a handsome stucco fireplace to provide a visual anchor for the yard and allow for entertaining after dark.
Take your cues from Mother Nature when designing your backyard. Instead of a manicured lawn, use native shrubs, wildflowers, and stone to create a natural look. In this backyard, a granite waterfall slowly trickles through mixed beds of ground-covering plants. The upkeep is minimal and the garden looks like it sprung up naturally.