Landscaping Ideas for Yards with No Grass

What would you rather be doing on a summer afternoon? Mowing the lawn? Or relaxing with friends and family in your backyard? Check out these well-planned backyard landscapes for ideas on creating a no-mow backyard.

Tear Up Your Turf

Mowing the lawn is a thing of the past for this family. Instead of sweating behind a mower, they tore up the turf and added a large flagstone patio for gathering and entertaining. The few small strips of lawn that remain are easily tamed in just minutes with a push mower.

Carve a Slope

Mowing was always a chore on this slightly sloping backyard. So, the owners carved out a space 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

Irregular paving stones set into the ground like puzzle pieces make a gorgeous patio where a weedy lawn once grew. Spaces between the stones are filled with creeping plants, such as Corsican mint and thyme. These tough plants can take light foot traffic and compete with any weeds that try to germinate in the cracks. Plus, they release a delightful fragrance every time they are touched.

Widen a Path

If you have an existing garden path, consider doubling or tripling its size to eliminate lawn chores and have more living space. Here, a flagstone path that connected the side and back of the house was widened to create an inviting and low-maintenance corridor. The space is now wide enough to accommodate oversize pots of flowers.

Spread Out

Don't skimp when adding a deck or patio. The more space you can cover, the happier you'll be. Not only will you have less grass to mow, you'll also be able to add more comfortable, oversize furniture. This generous size patio leaves plenty of room for large outdoor wicker furniture.

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 patch of sod 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 only 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 great 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.

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.

Mix Materials

Small spaces don’t have to look small if you’re smart about mixing paving materials. Here, for example, 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 as attractive as it is edible. Here, a narrow ribbon of turf was removed and a handsome 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 gives the family a lot more time to relax together in their elevated backyard.

Grow Flowers, Not Grass

Keeping a lawn in top form takes a lot of work and uses valuable resources -- fertilizer, water, herbicides, and gas for the mower. Instead of spending time and money just to keep your grass happy, why not grow flowers 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. The fireplace encourages the family to spend more time together after dark.

Go Native

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 wild and domestic plants.  The upkeep is minimal and the garden looks as though it was always in place.

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