For many people, “landscape” is synonymous with “lawn.” But there’s no rule book that says your yard needs to be mostly grass. Or partly grass. Or even have any grass at all!
You may prefer a yard where the kids can play baseball or the dog can chase a Frisbee. But you may also be tired of the incessant upkeep, the mowing, fighting with the inevitable weeds, summer browning and water restrictions.
Wherever you fall on the grass spectrum, you have options! Whether you want to eliminate it altogether, or preserve a back yard space for the kids to play but do away with grass in the front or along the sides of your home, there’s more than one way to design a beautiful landscape.
In fact, grass-less landscaping can be even more beautiful and incorporate a variety of elements that give you space to relax and enjoy, without the maintenance and hassle of a lawn.
If you’re defaulting to “lawn” in your landscape just because that’s the way it’s always been, let us share some inspiration for designing amazing landscapes without it.
Stone And Hardscape
From crushed stone to large boulders, natural stone is a prized landscape addition for many homeowners. Stone can be used to meticulously build walls and walkways, or it can be designed in a more naturalistic configuration to flow and cascade through your space.
It can be used to draw attention to a favorite plant or tree, as the setting place for a work of art or other special décor, even in place of mulch to blanket flower beds. Brightly colored blooms and deep green foliage create a striking effect against the smooth contours of white or light-colored stone.
Different types of stone will have different effects on your space. For example, river rocks can add warmth to a space, while white stone can brighten it.
Flat stones make excellent stepping stones for pathways. Smaller stones can edge ponds or gardens. A large, uniquely shaped stone can even be used as a centerpiece and work of art unto itself, creating a truly unique focal point.
The best part is that stone essentially lasts forever, unlike mulch, which needs to be replaced each year. And no mowing is required!
You don’t need bare ground to grow gorgeous plants or to design a colorful landscape. If you have challenging soil, excessive shade, or spots where nothing seems to grow, consider container gardening.
Planting in containers gives you an ideal way to capitalize on the natural conditions of your space. Move shade plants beneath trees, add a pop of color to a dull space, even change blooms from season to season – bright purple Oxalis in spring and rich burgundy Chrysanthemums in fall.
Some plants, like ivy, even prefer containers. As an added bonus, edibles love containers, so try your hand at kales and lettuces, tomatoes and peppers. You may have to pull the occasional weed but they’re easy to maintain, require no mowing and can even be easier on allergies than a large expanse of lawn.
Containers can be grouped by size or color, placed on various surfaces like benches, walls and even in stone beds to create height and depth. Place containers on patios, in flowerbeds, along pathways or on porches or decks – anywhere that there is a flat surface, whether natural or designed. The best part is that no lawn is required.
Patios And Entertaining Spaces
Patios provide the perfect surface for container gardening and double as a space where you can sit and relax on a favorite chaise or around a fire pit with friends. They make the perfect accompaniment to pools, can be extended into walkways and steps, and lay the groundwork for outdoor kitchens and entertaining areas.
Patio pavers come in a surprising variety of sizes, styles, shapes, textures and colors. From tumbled to embossed, Old World cobbler styles to natural and irregular Flagstone shapes, pavers are versatile enough to go from back yard to front and even to driveway.
They can be laid in a running pattern, herringbone pattern and circular patterns. Accent colors, insets and borders all add personal style. Natural stone like Bluestone or Pennsylvania Fieldstone can be designed for a purely random and asymmetrical look.
Like stone, patios are durable and incredibly low maintenance. They’re often the unsung heroes of a great outdoor space, providing exactly the right foundation for seating and other furniture, kitchens and grills, fire pits and water gardens. If you want an outdoor space where you can sit, relax, cook, or entertain without lamenting the state of your lawn, a beautiful custom patio may be the perfect solution.
Walkways And Coverings
Even if you’re not interested in a large play-space expanse of lawn, you may be concerned that going grass-less means a yard covered in plants, trees and flowers with no space to walk amongst the roses.
Not true! A well-designed landscape combines form and function. Your space is meant to be enjoyed, and not just from your living room window. That means building in transitions between areas, whether you want to move between a patio and edible garden or stroll peacefully through your naturalistic flowerbeds.
Stones and pavers work well as walkways and can even be used to incorporate other elements along the way, like container gardens, water features and seating areas. Pathways create transitions but also separation. Separate your pool and patio from a cozy, private area with a walkway, or create delineation between a lively outdoor kitchen and quiet pond.
In between, coverings like arbors, pergolas and gazebos add separation, privacy and charm. Place seating in a gazebo for private dining. Plant climbing vines around an arbor. Build a stepping stone pathway beneath a pergola leading to a secret garden where you can enjoy your favorite blooms.
Can you envision how much more interesting your space can be beyond simply green lawn?
Ponds And Waterfalls
Sure, you can add a pond in the middle of your lawn. But imagine turning your yard into a pond! This can be especially effective in small spaces or if you’re particularly fond of water and want to enjoy it from inside and out.
Ponds are entire landscapes in themselves, from tall, native grasses along the perimeter, to natural stone edging, the floating blooms of water lilies, cascading waterfalls, stone or wood bridges and the addition of koi, goldfish, frogs and other wildlife.
You can abut a patio or deck with a pond for a space where you can entertain in style or simply sit and enjoy some quiet time.
A balanced pond ecosystem is low-maintenance, too. Spend half a day in the spring and again in the fall preparing your pond for a change in seasons, or hire a pro to do it for you, and a pond essentially takes care of itself.
Pools And Decks
Whether you envision a long lap pool or smoothly curved wading pool, small waterfall pool or luxury party pool, your options are only limited by your imagination. Even space doesn’t matter. A pool can be designed and built to fit the largest or smallest of spaces. Gunite pools are especially prized for their ability to be designed in any size or shape you can dream of.
The same way your yard can be turned into a pond, it can also be turned into a pool. Surround it with a deck, whether single or multi-tiered, add the right plantings whether in the adjacent ground or in containers, top it off with a grill or kitchen, and you’ve got a yard worth enjoying without a single blade of grass in sight.
Imagine tall, swaying ornamental grasses, fragrant wildflowers, and colorful ground cover. Envision a small, bubbling column and a tall old-growth tree. Picture a craggy, textured stone and a smooth, glazed urn overflowing with Begonia.
Now weave together any of the elements mentioned here – natural stone steps, a rustic arbor, wrought iron bench, pond or pot of tomatoes.
Have you begun to see what your space can look like without the same old boring, green lawn that so many homes seem to boast? Are you excited by the possibility of a low-maintenance yard that looks gorgeous all year long, giving your home exceptional curb appeal and a place to spend time with friends or family?
Once you imagine the possibilities, you may start to wonder why you ever labored over that uninspired patch of green at all. Whether you want a space that is easier to maintain, more fun to spend time in, or adds curb appeal to your home, a naturalistic, grass-less landscape may be just what you’re looking for.
If you want to talk about your vision and find out how to turn possibility into reality, get in touch with us for a consultation. We can turn your ideas into a Master Plan then design a space that’s perfect for you.