8 Beautiful Lawn Alternatives to Grass
August 11, 2021
Brilliant green lawns are undeniably beautiful. However, grass lawns come with hefty maintenance requirements that are impossible to ignore, especially in summer. Frequent watering, fertilizing, and mowing are all part of the package.
However, there are a variety of lawn alternatives to grass that require less upkeep. These options need less attention and resources to thrive. Replacing sections of your lawn with one or more of these options can have eco-friendly benefits such as reducing water waste, fertilizer runoff, and lawn mower emissions.
No-Mow Ground Covers
Ground covers are naturally low-growing plants that form a mat over the ground. They only require trimming if desired, and often don’t need a lot of watering to keep looking vibrant.
Clover makes an excellent lawn alternative because it enriches soil with its nitrogen-fixing properties. A bed of clover maintains that bright green lawn aesthetic while also putting out little white blooms that attract pollinators.
Hardiness zones: 3-10
Moss brings an interesting texture to a yard or garden space. A moss bed can replace a grassy sprawl with a soft, springy ground cover that adds additional visual interest by climbing up surrounding tree bark and rocks.
Hardiness zones: 4-10
- Red Creeping Thyme
Red creeping thyme is a bright purple ground cover that can make an excellent grass replacement around a walkway. This creeping plant will curl its bright blooms around stone pavers, forming a whimsical look.
Hardiness zones: 4-9
- Creeping Jenny
Similar to creeping thyme, creeping jenny will wrap around walkways or drape down ledges. This ground cover has light green vines that spread to envelop the garden.
Hardiness zones: 2-10
For more information on these ground covers, see the visual below from Angi:
Flowers, Grasses, and Shrub Beds
Flowers and shrubs that are local to a specific region make excellent lawn alternatives because they are well-adapted to the local soil and therefore don’t need much fertilizer to keep vibrant and healthy. A raised or sectioned-off bed of flowers or shrubs can help reduce the size of a grass lawn while adding color and new shapes to a space.
- Pink Muhly Grass
Muhly grass is just one of many ornamental grasses that grow tall and form unique shapes in a garden. Others include fescues and fountain grass. Muhly grass in particular reaches high with pink, feathery coloring. Once full grown, it needs little maintenance other than seasonal trimming. To reduce areas that need mowing, incorporate muhly grass in a mulch or flower bed.
Hardiness zones: 5-9
This flowering perennial has silvery leaves and forms a thick blanket of white flowers, reminiscent of snow, over a lawn in the summertime. Like other flowers, snow-in-summer supports pollinators and adds appealing pops of color to your landscape.
Hardiness zones: 3-7
For more garden bed ideas, see below.
The lawn alternatives that save the most on maintenance are materials such as gravel, sand, and mulch. Even though these options aren’t plants, they can complement an outdoor space and create unique walkways and gathering areas in any landscape.
Especially great for hot climates where a lot of watering is needed to maintain grass, gravel is a cost-effective substitute that can look stunning on a walkway, courtyard, or surrounding a flower bed.
Sand makes the perfect material for a fire pit area, a rock garden, or a walkway through the garden. This low-cost option doesn’t require much weekly maintenance and only needs replenishing every year or two.
See more sustainable, non-plant ideas below:
Incorporating several of these lawn replacement options into a yard can reduce the sometimes-overwhelming time, energy, and resources that go into yard maintenance while still cultivating a gorgeous landscape.