"21 inspiring lawn-free yards


No-chores backyard

Easy-care plants and materials create a low-maintenance garden that can fend for itself for weeks at a stretch. See how durable furnishings, bulletproof plants, no-fuss flooring, and clever details make it work. Photo by Jennifer Cheung












Big on features, not on grass

Bridges, islands, and a shaded fireplace add plenty of whimsical details to this Albuquerque backyard­­—no water necessary. And a smattering of carefully chosen drought-resistant plants offer just enough no-fuss greenery to create a lush feel. Photo by Steven A. Gunther












Front-yard meadow

Two great ideas from this garden

Grassy screen Tall Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ grass screens the sitting area from the street.

“Character” plants From fluffy mounds to floppy giants: Rusty-hued Carex testacea softens the front path, while green kniphofia, plum Heuchera ‘Obsidian’, Libertia peregrinans ‘Bronze Sword’, and euphorbia surround the ‘Karl Foerster’ grass. Across the path, drifts of Picea sitchensis ‘Papoose’, variegated iris, and Phormium‘Dusky Chief’ encircle a ginkgo tree. (Photo by Norm Plate)









Drought-tolerant yard

A low retaining wall of stacked flagstone has the effect of setting this San Diego house and garden on a pedestal. The wide pathway, also of flagstone, adds importance, too.

Dymondia margaretae, a gray-leafed South African ground cover, has replaced the lawn, and a range of drought-tolerant plants, including New Zealand flax (Phormium), kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos),Leucadendron, and Lomandra add further interest. Photo by Lori Brookes"