Can You Live Without Your Lawn?

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I’m not one of those people campaigning for all lawns to be replaced. Lawns are landscaping staples we have relied on for many decades — and in areas where humidity is high and rainfall is abundant, they make sense.

Green lawns help clean our air and offer soft, comfortable flooring for playing or picnicking. Lawns should be appreciated where they function and look good, but opting for lawn as a fill-in and then pouring water into the ground just for the honor of having to mow it all the time doesn’t make a lot of sense. Luckily, there are other options.

When landscaping in drier climates — or places where rain is no longer as plentiful as it used to be — we need to rethink the use of lawns.

When I do a landscape design, I look at my client’s lifestyle and the style of the house on the property to decide what will work best.

If you’re considering going lawn-less, think about what kind of lawn substitute would help create the best look to flatter the style of your house and what would best complement your lifestyle. Think about how much time you want to put into maintenance and what benefits you can get out of whatever you use to replace your lawn. Sometimes less lawn is better.

One option is to plant native and other drought-tolerant plants, which can be more colorful and decorative than a lawn.

Herb gardens usually require less irrigation than lawns and offer spices, seasonings and plants for cooking or medicinal uses. They can be designed to be decorative, too.

Edible gardens can require additional irrigation, but at least the water usage will pay you back with nourishing, fresh food.

Another possibility is to turn flat or rolling areas into athletic, entertainment, playground or seating spaces.

Instead of cementing over extensive areas, consider hardscaping with bricks, gravel, tiles and pavers — permeable paving — which allow for a wide variety of designs and effects.

Lawn replacement can be fun and exciting. It might even lower your water bills, reduce maintenance or help out the local environment.  If those aren’t incentive enough, a well-designed lawn replacement can even make your landscape more interesting and beautiful than just another swath of grass. Those are some pretty convincing reasons to rethink lawns.

Photo credits: Jane Gates

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