Modern Gravel Garden With Few Plants
decorative gravel
(Image credit: U. J. Alexander)

Maybe you're looking for something a bit outside of the box, or perhaps you have little time or patience for maintaining and mowing a lawn. Whether you're a busy homeowner looking for something easier or you're just wanting to make a statement, there are many low-maintenance and low-cost alternatives to traditional grass that will accomplish your needs.

What are Some Non-Plant Alternatives to Grass?

Lawn alternatives don't have to be limited to plants. Hard surfaces such as stones, gravels, or pebbles can be just as effective. All of these provide interesting texture and are available in a variety of colors and sizes that will fit into any landscape design. They are also easy to apply and relatively inexpensive, depending on what you choose and how you use it.

How to Use Non-Plant Lawn Alternatives

Stone surfaces complement most surroundings, can be mixed with other hard surface varieties, and can even serve as mulch for plants. In fact, there are numerous plants that thrive in these types of environments. For instance, yuccas, cacti, and succulents look right at home in a graveled landscape. Other plants that are tolerant of this type of mulching include:

Recreate a beach scene in your front yard by applying a layer of pebbles and mixing in some seashells. Add some seaside plantings and a few pieces of driftwood. Stones are also common elements of Japanese gardens. Steppingstones are also popular and can greatly reduce the amount of lawn in your yard. They are easy to make and actually quite fun, so be sure to include the kids. Nearly any type of lawn can be replaced with an array of alternatives that will not only fit your personal needs and preferences, but also add color, texture, and interest to your landscape.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.