Designing a garden without a lawn – 20 ideas and alternatives to green lawns

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Until a few years ago, the lawn was one of the most important components of one’s own garden. That is why a garden design without a lawn is still simply unimaginable for many people today. What would a garden look like without a lawn? Should you do without the green completely in this case? What are the alternatives to a spacious lawn? We reveal the answers to these and other questions in the article!

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A lawn in your own outdoor area only looks beautiful if it is properly and adequately cared for. The lawn usually requires a lot of maintenance. It should be constantly mowed, fertilized, and watered to look good. This intensive care takes a lot of time and effort and is simply not worth it for many hobby gardeners. In the end, the work is often more than the benefit. Therefore, in modern garden design, the lawn is increasingly being dispensed with and the available space is being converted. In the following we would like to present the best alternatives to conventional lawns that you can use as inspiration for your own garden design.

Garden without a lawn – an overview of the alternatives


Since the clipped blades of grass no longer play a major role in modern garden design, you can replace them with other garden design elements. In order to find the right alternative, you should first think about how you would like the garden to be. If you want a vegetable garden, a playground for the children or a cozy oasis of relaxation, then you should adapt your decision accordingly. In this case, the size of the garden also plays an important role.

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Small gardens have little space anyway, so in this case you can do without the lawn completely and make better use of the small space. The narrow terraced house garden often only covers a few square meters, which can be designed according to your own needs. For such a small garden, a garden design without a lawn is recommended, because this creates space for a terrace, a small water feature or small flower beds.

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Although larger gardens offer significantly more space, they can also be designed without the lawn. However, this requires good planning and a clear idea of ​​your own garden area. The large garden allows a lot of design freedom and you can transform the available space into your own oasis.

Terrace or yard as an alternative to lawn

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The terrace is a popular alternative for the lawnless garden because it becomes the focal point of the garden. A terrace garden can be designed like an outdoor living room and thus combines the comfort of the house with the freshness of nature. With comfortable seating, sun protection and a few planters on the edge, the terrace can be transformed into a cozy place to relax. If the available space allows, you can create a barbecue area, fireplace or outdoor kitchen on the terrace and grill with friends and family in summer and when the weather is nice.


Terraces are usually laid with either natural stone slabs or a wooden deck. So that this area does not appear cold, it should be furnished with the right furniture. With comfortable garden furniture, the garden is given a homely touch that invites you to linger. Furniture made of rattan or another weather-resistant material that is suitable for outdoor use is recommended. The overall picture on the terrace is rounded off with the right accessories such as cushions and outdoor carpets.


Small gardens without a lawn can still be designed as a courtyard. The courtyard spreads a feeling of security and offers privacy from the neighbors. If you want a garden without a lawn, you can convert it into an inner courtyard and cover it with gravel or chippings, for example. Paving stones and natural stones offer an equally nice decision and can be perfectly combined with small flower beds and plant stones.


With a paved inner courtyard, even the smallest garden can be made cozy without a lawn. The first thing you should do is find the right furniture that matches the style of the garden. Then you need a few plants and flowers in pots to freshen up the atmosphere. With an awning or a small pergola, you can provide reliable protection from the sun and privacy and give the area the popular Mediterranean flair.

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If the garden is laid without a lawn, but with stones and pebbles, it requires much less maintenance. Such an easy-care garden is the dream of every urban garden owner and can cope with any climate, soil and location. Garden design like this is particularly popular at the moment and speaks for the popular minimalist style.

Focus on water for the lawnless garden


If you have a medium-sized or large garden, then you should definitely consider water for the outdoor area. A small garden pond, great water features or a narrow stream create a natural feeling and invite nature into your garden. In this way, the lawn can be successfully replaced by another natural element. Water has a special effect on the entire outdoor area and can be used in many different forms.


If you want to integrate water in your own garden area, you can do this in a variety of ways. In the somewhat larger garden, a garden pond can be created and planted accordingly, so that a natural feeling prevails in the outdoor area. If you wish, you can design the garden pond like a swimming pond and swim in your own garden in summer.


A swimming pool is without a doubt one of the best alternatives to lawns. Whether paved or with a wooden deck, the pool in the garden is much more useful than the green lawn. With a few sun loungers, umbrellas and plant pots, the pool area becomes an absolute highlight on your property. As a real luxury, this variant also has a corresponding price. The swimming pool in the garden is a great investment that you need to think carefully.


Even if there is not enough space for a pond or pool, you should not be without water. A small garden without a lawn will certainly benefit from some water features that have a positive effect on the atmosphere in the outdoor area. Even a small fountain can appeal to all the senses and create a feel-good atmosphere. In combination with beautiful plants and charming garden furniture, the overall picture in the garden without a lawn is rounded off.

Plants for the garden without a lawn


The well-tended lawn is not the only option for a green oasis in your own garden. You can create a near-natural garden area with a beautifully planted shrub area instead of a lawn. In this case, the grass is replaced by green and colorful beds, which create a successful play of colors on the terrace or in the courtyard.

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For a garden without a lawn, a few green beds and small trees are the best alternative to a blade of grass. You can combine the perennials with flowering plants, which provide colorful accents in spring and summer. However, some plants require more complex maintenance and are therefore rather unsuitable for urban gardens. If you are looking for a really easy-to-care-for alternative to lawns, but one that does not completely remove green from the garden, then you should consider hardy perennials. When choosing, pay attention to easy-care varieties that do not require too much care.


If you really want to get a great benefit from the garden, you can plant it with fruits and vegetables. Depending on the climate, different types of vegetables can be grown in different areas, which certainly taste better than those from the supermarket. If the available space is sufficient, then you can consider growing vegetables for the garden without a lawn.

If you like the look of a lawn but don’t have enough time to take care of it, you can create a colorful meadow instead. A large area or just a small strip can be left as a meadow and planted with varieties such as loosestrife. With a meadow garden like this you have no problems with weeds and mowing is only necessary from time to time. The maintenance effort is therefore much less than with a lawn, but the result is again a green area in the outdoor area.

Unusual ideas for a garden design without a lawn


If you are looking for great ideas for landscaping without a lawn, then you can find inspiration in Japanese gardens. A Japanese garden doesn’t need a lawn to look natural and relaxing. Gravel paths and sand areas provide a basic structure and are therefore the most important design elements for this style. Rocks with moss, a koi pond with decorative fish and shaped plants like bonsai and grass offer a great alternative to lawns. Decorative elements such as lanterns and garden figures round off the Far Eastern atmosphere and create a real oasis of calm in your own garden without a lawn.


Just like gravel, the bark mulch can be used perfectly for decorative purposes in the garden. On the one hand, the weeds are suppressed and the planting is much easier. The mulch is also perfect for designing garden paths, which play a major role in modern lawn design.


Sand is an unusual alternative for the garden without a lawn. With sand instead of lawns, a real holiday feeling is created in the outdoor area, which is ideal for the summer months. The beach is brought home with suitable furniture, accessories and plants. This extraordinary garden design without lawn is particularly recommended for families with children, because in this case the outdoor area is perfect as a playground for the little ones.