Most landscapers and property owners turn to grass for landscaping, as it’s the idyllic green American dream that goes right along with a white picket fence. Grass is pretty, soft, and versatile. But grass is also a mean, green, water-hungry machine that is expensive and time consuming to maintain. There are also places where grass simply will not work for landscaping. Areas that are inhospitable or drought-blasted are often not a good option for growing things.
What is the best grass lawn alternative? This guide will take you through a number of vegetative and non-vegetative options for alternatives to grass lawns.
Non-Vegetative Grass Lawn Alternatives
If you’re looking for lawn ornamentation but don’t want all of the maintenance and care that comes with trying to tend to living things, you can go for the inanimate options.
1. Artificial Turf
Artificial turf is the ultimate grass replacement for lawns. As a synthetic alternative to natural grass lawns, turf provides all of the benefits of natural grass like vegetative grass lawn alternatives, without any of the drawbacks like the non-vegetative grass lawn alternatives. It’s attractive year-round, low maintenance, and cost effective. By not requiring water and mowing, turf saves you time and money to spend elsewhere.
Turf also helps suppress weeds without the use of herbicides, and doesn’t require fertilizer. This means that pleasant guests like butterflies and hummingbirds won’t be deterred from visiting any nearby flowers by harsh chemicals.
Turf is durable and versatile, and you can often place it in areas where grass simply can’t go: In shade, by water, or on vertical surfaces— the sky’s the limit. Dogs and other pets can play in it, but won’t eat it or dig it up, and any waste can be cleaned from it easily.To find the best natural grass lawn alternative, check out our inventory of high quality landscaping turf.
Japan has practiced the art of rock gardening for centuries. Rocks are a grass lawn alternative in places that experience drought. Whether you want low-cost options like gravel or higher expense options like boulders or large rock features, there’s a lot to choose from in this realm.
- Pros: Rocks are attractive, zero-maintenance, and are pet friendly.
- Cons: Obviously, because they’re rocks, they’re not soft to walk or play on. And if you opt for large boulders, you’ve created a permanent feature because they’re going to be very difficult to move.
3. Mulch & Bark
While bark and mulch are technically vegetation, they’re not really alive in the sense that most people mean when they refer to a lawn. Bark and mulch are common grass lawn alternatives because they require almost no maintenance and act as a blank canvas for plants and other landscaping opportunities.
- Pros: Mulch has a neutral appearance, and is great for growing flowers and plants. Price can vary dramatically, depending on the variety you opt for and how much area you have to cover.
- Cons: Can be very messy, isn’t as vibrant as grass, and most people don’t want to walk around on it with bare feet or you’ll probably get splinters.
If you live by the beach, you’ve already got this non-vegetative lawn alternative ready to go! Just kidding, but sand is an option for lawns and landscaping for locations that experience drought.
- Pros: Low maintenance, attractive and affordable. Plus, you can build sand castles in it if you like.
- Cons: Sand can become a litterbox for animals in the neighborhood. Sand also tends to get everywhere and tends to stay there a while.
Vegetative Grass Lawn Alternatives
If you still want something growing in your yard that you can care for, there are plenty of low maintenance vegetative options available to replace your grass lawn. Most of them don’t require a ton of work, are hardy, attractive, pet-friendly, and affordable. But if you do have pets, make sure to check about the toxicity of the vegetation before you install it or start growing it. Here are some of the favorite vegetative alternatives to a grass lawn:
1. CloverClover is the plant that everyone knows from St. Patrick’s Day four-leaf clovers. Most clovers have just three leaves though, and that leafy green quality is a part of what makes clover a popular alternative to grass lawns. It resembles the attractive appearance and luxurious feeling of grass, until it blooms with small white or purple flowers.
- Pros: Clover is attractive, grows easily and readily, is completely non-toxic, and is very low maintenance. In fact, you can mow it just like a natural lawn, though you don’t need to. It’s also worth noting that bees love clover and it makes for great honey.
- Cons: Some people dislike the look of clover, referring to it as a weed and finding it unattractive. It is also less durable than regular grass, though they can often grow in conjunction with one another.
Mosses are flowerless plants without a vascular system or complex root structure. They can grow on rocks, tree trunks, and a variety of shady surfaces. Moss provides a nice little tufting of green like grass to create that pleasant plushness when walked on.
- Pros: Moss is pretty and grows without much intervention or maintenance required.
- Cons: Needs shade, and has a hard time growing in direct sunlight. This is why moss can be a great alternative to grass, though. While it can be walked on, foot traffic should be kept on the lighter side.
Succulents and small cacti have grown in popularity in recent years, not only as bouquets and as houseplants, but their likeness appears in home decor, body art, and in popular media— Succulents are trending, so it makes sense they are a grass lawn alternative.
- Pros: Succulents grow well in drought-ridden areas, and provide an extremely unique look to any yard.
- Cons: They can be very expensive, and can be killed if they’re overwatered. They are also strictly for aesthetics and should not be walked on.
Why have a grass lawn when you could have a flower garden? Flowers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and can attract pleasant guests like butterflies, hummingbirds, and ladybugs.
- Pros: Flowers are attractive, fragrant, and are food for the bees, so in addition to having a pretty yard, you’re making a pretty gardenscape for everyone to enjoy!
- Cons: Some flowers are pretty high maintenance, and a garden requires a lot more attention than a typical grass lawn. Additionally, you’ll need to create walking paths because walking all over flowers will kill them. They’re also more expensive to maintain than other types of lawns.
Mix & Match!
Turf goes with everything— rocks, gravel, flowers, and mulch combined with turf create the ultimate lawn. When you mix and match your landscaping options, you get the best of everything— an attractive, low maintenance lawn that’s affordable.
With the upfront investment of installing turf, you will have extra time and resources to dedicate to other things. Turf looks great when it’s surrounded by rocks and flowers, and you can start the planning with a few simple questions:
- Cost: How much ground are you covering and what you’ll need can give you an idea of the price of everything you want.
- Appearance: Do you want something that looks lush and green or unique, clean and modern?
- Maintenance: What will you need to maintain all the different landscape features?
- HOA: Some HOAs don’t allow certain types of landscaping material, so it’s good to check on this first.
Overall, no HOA or landscaping crew will reject the idea of turf. It’s easy to install, looks great, low-maintenance, and is extremely durable. If you’ve got questions about how you can get the best alternative to natural grass lawns, get in touch with us, or start browsing our product lineup today!