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Grassless Gardening: How to Make the Most of Your Landscape

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The Basics of Grassless Landscaping
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Grassless Yard Ideas: Low-Maintenance Grass Alternatives
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Grassless Backyard Design Ideas

Grassless gardening is a new landscaping movement that has been picking up speed lately, for a variety of reasons. There’s a seemingly endless list of grass alternatives for your lawn that are creative, functional, eco-friendly, and beautiful. With all the time you spend cutting watering and weeding your lawn, only to have it looking just like everyone else’s on the block, why not shake things up a bit and try something out of the ordinary? 

The Basics of Grassless Landscaping

The name is pretty self-explanatory— grassless gardening is pretty much just gardening without grass, but when you think about it, it’s a pretty broad focus. There are so many different styles and materials you can try out. Filling your yard with basically anything but grass can be considered grassless gardening! If you’re considering going grass-free, look at it from a goal-oriented perspective: what do you want to achieve with your yard? 

Lots of people turn to grassless gardening as an environmentally conscious landscaping alternative. A lot of water goes into keeping your grass healthy and green, so laying down other materials like river stone or bark mulch can end up saving you tons of water. Alternately, some people take the approach of making better use of the space to justify the amount of water that gets used, by filling the yard with flowers, or even edible plants. 

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From a design perspective, some people love grassless gardening simply because it’s a chance to get creative, turning a simple yard into something extraordinary. If you really want your property to stand out, you can make a huge impact by eliminating your lawn.

Many homeowners in St. John, IN and Frankfort, IL who don’t have a lot of spare time are turning to non-grass yards to save time and effort on landscape maintenance. It’s especially popular among older folks who have a bit of trouble pushing around a heavy lawnmower. A lawn that doesn’t need cutting, regular watering, weeding, and re-seeding can also be beneficial for those with limited mobility. The best part is you don’t have to compromise on style. Laying down a non-grass material in your lawn could very likely have it looking better than ever! 

One important thing to keep in mind about going grassless is that some towns have guidelines and lawn square footage minimums that must be met in order to maintain legal occupancy. Check with your area’s residential planning laws and your local homeowners association’s guidelines for what landscape criteria must be met.

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Grassless Yard Ideas: Low-Maintenance Grass Alternatives

Getting tired of pushing the mower around? Here are some of our favorite grass alternatives available in St. John, IL, and Frankfort, IN.

Clover: If you love the look of a lush, green lawn, but don’t love all the effort it requires, try opting for a clover lawn! Seeding with clover will leave you with an even, manageable terrain that you can still walk around on, or even set up some patio furniture for entertaining guests. It doesn’t need mowing, it smells fabulous, and it’s quite hardy. Clover requires very little water once its established, and thrives in sunny and shady areas alike. It’s also quite affordable, so that’s a bonus! If you have pets, a clover lawn is an excellent fit. It’s much less susceptible to the lawn burn and unsightly yellow patches left behind after your dog relieves itself. 

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River Rock: While river rock isn’t quite as budget-conscious as some other materials, it lasts forever and only needs the occasional rinse with the hose to keep things looking fresh. River stone looks particularly beautiful when you have a few garden beds throughout the lawn, and you need a pretty material to fill the spaces in between. Like clover, this is another fantastic option if you’ve got pets who have been leaving yellow spots in the grass.

Wildflowers: A yard full of colorful prairie wildflowers isn’t just beautiful— it’s a great low-maintenance alternative. Flowers native to our region don’t need much to keep them growing. A generous layer of mixed wildflower seeds will leave you with fabulous results, and pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds will be happy to stop by and visit.

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Grassless Backyard Design Ideas

If you’re looking for a little inspiration on ways to make the most of your backyard space, and really transform it into something beautiful and inviting for outdoor entertaining, consider some of these design approaches to grassless gardening:

Rock Gardens: Laying down slabs of stone can look really polished and sophisticated, and it’s certainly not going to limit your ability to grow beautiful garden plants and flowers. There are lots of plants that can tolerate rocky conditions and will naturally creep up and around the stone, like garden phlox or sedum. 

Bark Mulch: With all the different colors and materials of mulch available, there are so many different looks you can achieve by laying down this grass alternative. Bark mulch, like this pine bark mulch, can have a dramatic impact on the feel of your space. Combined with some strategically placed paving stones and colorful garden plants throughout the yard, it’ll look like a page out of a gardening magazine. Since mulch naturally breaks down, you’ll need to replace it every two years or so. However, the nutrients it delivers into the soil as it decomposes will actually help nourish your plants, while also helping to prevent weeds and retain soil moisture.

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Vegetable Gardens: Filling your backyard with vegetable plants doesn’t just provide visual interest; it offers a ton of healthy food for you and your family! Who doesn’t love having fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes and cucumbers within an arm’s reach? The most important thing to keep in mind when filling an entire yard with vegetable plants is accessibility. You want to be able to access all of your plants without trampling them, so some strategically placed paving stones will make things much easier. These Rosetta Superior Stepper Stones work with any landscape.

Got an Uneven Terrain? If your yard is full of hills and slopes, pushing a mower around isn’t ideal. Turn an uneven lawn into usable living space by creating a patio! To make things easier on you, you can work with a landscaper to carve out a flat space in the yard to pave. The landscaper can also install retainer walls around the border, and even cover the remaining hills and slopes with colorful shrubs and flowers. It will take some extra effort to transform your yard this way, but the results are breathtaking and could increase your home’s value dramatically. 

Expand your Patio or Paved Areas: This will give you so much more room to entertain—you can get really creative with how you make use of the space. An expanded area with stone or wood terrain, a stylish seating area, like our Four Seasons Culebra Collection Patio Set, and extra add-ons like a barbecue or a stereo can transform a simple yard into a functional living space, with much less maintenance required to keep it looking top-notch.             

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There is so much to love about grassless gardening and so many creative approaches you can take. Instead of toiling away in the yard to make it perfectly manicured like all the rest, why not direct those efforts into making your yard look uniquely beautiful? If you’d like to get started on grassless gardening at home, stop by one of our locations in St. John, IN, or Frankfort, IL. We’ll help you find the appropriate materials and landscaping services to help your vision come to life.