Creating a Landscape Without Grass

By Jeff Skierka

Incorporating beauty into your landscaping without a lawn can be tricky but rewarding. Here’s how…

One increasingly common request I receive involves a layout without a lawn.

With the high amount of clay in our native soil, many people are living with lawns that are not functional or attractive. If you don’t need a lawn area, then a layout that is easy to care for and attractive year round is possible!

One of the ways to achieve this is to use pathways throughout the landscape.

By having pathways, you can create areas of interest and stopping points. You may add features into the landscape that you would not otherwise have room for. These stopping points can include some of the following: water features, fire pits, secondary sitting areas, vegetable gardens, gazebos and more. In fact, one of my clients is an artist who has added art to their landscape, creating an art-walk or exhibit. With the use of low voltage up lighting, the walkway is even more dramatic after sunset.

When choosing the materials to use for your walkways, it is important to look at pre-existing elements in the home and landscape and use those options for the walkways. If the exterior of the home has a lot of stone then a sand set stone walkway would be one of the first options to consider. If I am dealing with a home with a lot of brick, then I would opt for a pathway that has brick pavers. You should always match the brick or stone so that it complements the home’s existing features.

The amount of traffic that these walkways will accommodate should also play a factor in the type of materials installed. For example, a heavily used walkway might justify solid paving. A lightly used walkway may be done with crushed-gravel, bordered by pavers.

Mortar set stone instead of sand set stone would be another option when dealing with pathways that have differing traffic flows.

Once the lawn is removed and the pathways are installed, then the fun really begins. With all this extra space, you can now add a variety of plants to fill it. Ground covers like thyme or moss can be added to the layout and will make your new landscape easy to maintain. Many of the projects that I design are done over a span of a few years. In the case of this project it was a 4 year process to eliminate all of the lawn and convert into walkways.

Today you would not be able to tell where the project started and where it ended. This is simply a matter of consistency, using the same materials from beginning to completion. Now, this once boring backyard is an enchanting resort on the property.

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