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Consider a "no lawn" backyard design to maximize the use of a small yard and create outdoor living areas! Trust me, you won't miss the lawn when you are enjoying every square inch of your precious outdoor real estate as Larry does!
Take a moment to visit the other blogger's sites noted at the end of this post for more lawn alternative ideas. My client, Larry inherited this construction-worn backyard and was trusting in me to create miracles. Larry's idea of the perfect backyard included a spot to lounge, an outdoor dining area to entertain guests, a relaxing fountain and a beautiful garden. Larry's future landscape design did not include a lawn area and I was confident that he would be open to the idea. Create an outdoor dining area large enough for their antique table and chairs using recycled concrete for the patio floor. Design a small, year-round perennial garden with fountain that divides the eating area from the new lounge area. We measured the table and bench to the patio to make sure there was enough space to walk around and sit down. After- We installed recycled concrete pieces for the landing outside of the french doors and created a pad for the portable BBQ unit as well. Dwarf citrus trees are planted in containers placed in small, narrow garden beds to maximize space.
My client Larry was such a good sport to let us tape in his yard, he even appeared in the TV show! Although we have fun and act a little goofy in the video, we offer solid advice about Mediterranean plants and cold damage! If you have small children, a dog or truly enjoy the use of a lawn, then by all means, plant a lawn if it makes you happy. I like the Eco-Lawn or UC Verde lawn because they need less water to thrive than other conventional lawns, no fertilizing and  require less mowing.
Maximize the use of your yard for YOUR needs, don't just lay wall to wall sod without considering the alternatives!


You accomplished so much in so little of a space and it looks like its been there for quite a while.
We had a no lawn front yard at our old home with a water garden & a butterfly garden (or butterfly forrest as my grandson called it).
Readers should have no trouble at all seeing the value and beauty of a space without lawn here Shirley. Shirley, I love how you laid this space out–and your recycled concrete stepping stones are to die for. Loved seeing the narrow side courtyard again too which I remembered from the original GDRT posting.
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts and giveaways by email. Every back garden we have ever measured is a different shape and size, just as every client’s wish list is different to the next.
Many clients, especially those with smaller gardens, do not want the trouble of looking after a lawn, which of course is very demanding in terms of regular maintenance.
With no lawn however, the design has to be carefully put together to introduce textures and shapes of hard landscaping to give the garden interesting structure especially in the depth of winter.
A curved deck with brick edges leads into a simple path of stepping stone through gravel with planting, leading to a bench seat. A brick pathway leads the way through gravel with the same brick used for a raised bed and a plinth for a lovely piece of sculpture. Indian Sandstone paving in “heather” colour extends into a curved brick pathway leading to an attractive seat. When a garden is a reflection of a life, it deserves to be more than just an afterthought to a lawn. Although she wasn’t actually looking for a garden design, almost without thinking I interrupted her to say “let’s replace the entire lawn with garden.” And five minutes later I was sketching out ideas.
Fortunately, we were both in agreement that pollinator plants were a priority, so hardy favorites like rock rose, Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ and achillea are scattered throughout the garden. I love the whole stroll garden idea; I have seen it at work in small city gardens and extensive suburban yards, as well as many public landscapes.


Beautiful today, around 27C (had to look up the conversion from Fahrenheit but am now feeling delightfully continental) but was scorchingly hot last week and has been windy in the evenings.
We planted larger plants in gopher cages or hardscape fabric, and interplanted with (supposedly) more gopher-repellent plants like salvias and Euphorbias. I love your unifiers - when we deal with intensely eclectic gardens, we need to build a sense of cohesiveness.
Yes, Larry spends his weekends in the garden and he says that he’s having a lot of fun! Listening carefully to a brief, and looking together with clients at photographs of garden style, our job is then to create an interesting space which meets ALL of their practical needs. Unless tended regularly throughout the growing season, a poorly managed lawn can badly let down the remainder of the garden. Inclusion of evergreen plants will also help to “green up” the space which otherwise can look very hard and uninviting in the absence of lawn, but no so many evergreens that the garden will look the same all year round. For older children, why not give them their own garden bed, to plant and care for as they choose?After all, if Ruth Bancroft can celebrate her 100th birthday by gardening, and my friend Ruth can enthusiastically redefine the definition of a suburban back yard  in her eighties, surely the rest of us can be a bit more adventurous when it comes to re-imagining our gardens.
As always, I am so impressed not only with your design chops, but your ability to communicate what works in an understandable and inspiring way.
This often includes patio, other smaller seating areas, space for shed, washing line, compost, water feature or pond, trampoline, firepit or even a canoe bench. You are right, it is more important to honor the beauty of the MEANING of the plants in her garden. Your pictures always speak volumes and I loved hearing your defined thoughts on what makes a garden special.



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