Designs for Less Lawn or No Lawn at All

Lawn may not be the best choice for a particular area due to the climate, the site, or because you prefer a different look. The many alternatives include flowering groundcovers, smaller lawns and paths surrounded by trees, shrubs, and perennials, and for dry climates, patios and gravel with the occasional drought-tolerant shrub.


Examples from Everywhere

Find lots of ideas for alternatives to lawn on Less Lawn.

The Sustainable Gardening website has photos of lawn-free gardens from across the country.  And lots of alternative groundcovers are reviewed here.

Check out these gardenbloggers’ design workshop entries on Gardening Gone Wild: First, Front Yard Gardens, 2008 includes examples from 21 gardens, with photos. This year’s Front Yard Gardens includes examples from 16 gardeners, with photos. More good ideas in Made for the  Shade from 13 gardeners, with photos.


Edible Estates: Attacks on the Front Lawnby Fritz Haeg, Diana Balmori, Rosalind Creasy, Michael Pollan, Lesley Stern, Michelle Christmas, Stan Cox and Michael.  And Home Grown is a movie about Edible Estates.
Food Not Lawns by Heather Coburn Flores.

Rosalind Creasy’s Edible Landscaping is a classic, enjoying great success in its second edition.

One Oregon homeowner replaced her lawn with a community garden.

Prairies and Meadows

In The American Meadow Garden, ornamental grass expert John Greenlee creates a new model for homeowners and gardeners.

The American Prairie” [pdf] by Neil Diboll of Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin.

From Evelyn Hadden, “On-going maintenance and rewards of the prairie“.

In Dry Climates

Shirley Bovshow’s Low-Water Tour.

Shirley’s Lawn to Low-Water Garden   and her “extreme make-over”   And her Lawn-to-Edibles front yard.

Easterners are jealous of anyone who can grow Santolina as a lawn substitute.

Great curb-side lawn alternative in the Los Angeles Times.

Drought-tolerant doesn’t have to mean dull in the Los Angeles Times.

Check out lots more ideas on our Arid Climates page.

In Shade

One Wisconsin gardener’s discovery of moss.  And here’s another one in Wisconsin. (Coincidence?)

Collage, clockwise from upper left: succulents in Dallas; edible front-yard garden by designer Michelle Derviss in San Francisco; Thyme at Chanticleer in Pennsylvania; and front-yard perennial garden in Chicago.  Lower garden and photo by Shirley Bovshow in Los Angeles.