Maintenance, sustainability, personal style–there are plenty of reasons to consider an alternative to the traditional grass backyard . Maybe you want to permanently strike "mow the lawn" off your to-do list or maybe you love the enchanted, earthy look of sprawling moss across your backyard . If you've got low-mow, no-maintenance yards on your mind, you're not alone. According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) , "lazy lawns" might just be the next big thing thanks to their host of benefits: less maintenance, more wildlife, lower water bills. Starting to sound like a fairytale? With a little planning and some imagination, you can create your own no-mow , easy-maintenance backyard. (No fake stuff required!) Here are no-grass backyard ideas that make maintenance a snap in any season.
Design for Drought
Moss is Boss
At this North Carolina home, David Spain and Ken Gergle of Moss and Stone Gardens in Raleigh used 15 different types of moss to create a lush forest landscape. The guiding principle was to "work with nature, not against it."
Copy Courtyard Style
Without any groundcover, this Charleston courtyard still feels more than lush thanks to seasonally rotated planters, sculptural shrubs and elegant arching trees for shade.
Cover it in Crops
Take a cue from this North Carolina garden and swap out long stretches of grass for rows of raised beds. While this certainly won't eliminate your to-do list, it will make the payoff a whole lot sweeter.
Try a Landscape That's Made for Shade
At this Virginia home , a dreamy shade garden occupies what would be the backyard space. The key to keeping it looking tidy is a strategic mix of pathways, evergreens, walls, hedges, edging, small trees, and ponds.
Remember That Small Is Mighty
In the courtyard of this Atlanta cottage , there's not a square inch of sod in sight. Shape and scale take center stage in the 600-square-foot garden, proving a little strategy is all you need to create a verdant landscape.
Go for Ground Cover
Add a Little Flavor
If you're going to have to put in some yardwork, it might as well give you something in return. Raised beds with herbs and easy-to-grow fruits and veggies strike just the right balance.
Make Do with Mondo
No-mow dwarf mondo grass creates the illusion of a lush lawn at this Atlanta home , without all the maintenance. Stones, shrubs and structural elements help define the space and reduce the square footage needing coverage.
Create Something Custom
The owner of this Birmingham Tudor swapped a standard swath of turf for a far-more-enchanting cottage garden filled with a " tapestry of shrubs, roses, natives, herbs, and vines ."