There are lots of positives to having a lawn, but there are even more that come with the productive, beautiful and wildlife-friendly alternatives we've picked.


Though low-maintenance, there are plenty of other options requiring little effort to maintain. In small gardens it's worth considering whether any lawn is worth it; mowing can be a faff and shading from fences and walls often means they fail to thrive and look good.

Losing your lawn, or part of it, needn't mean you have to surrender the spaces you relax in – on the contrary, it's a chance to be creative and come up with new ways to use the space.

There are several ways to take up grass, including taking it up with a spade or edger, using a turf cutter or smothering it with newspaper or plastic, covered with a layer of organic matter.

Discover some of our favourite alternatives to a garden lawn, below.

Gravel gardens

By choosing a gravel garden, you can wave goodbye to mowing and vastly reduce watering, while gaining a vibrant, colourful garden. Discover some of the best plants to grow in a gravel garden.

Gravel garden
Lush planting in a gravel garden

Wildflower meadow

Wildflower meadows can be created in both sunny and shady spots, and even a small patch will support wildlife. Create them by laying strips of wildflower turf, or create a mini wildflower meadow using plugs. Just be sure you pick wildflowers suited to growing in the conditions of your chosen area.

Wildlife gardening – create a wildflower meadow
Wildflower meadow with scabious and knapweed

Feature path

Paths don't have to be just a means of getting from one place to another. Their shape and what they're made from, be it bricks, gravel, wood, stones or something else, can greatly influence the style of a garden. Even more so when bounded by an array of plants. Here's how to build a brick garden path.

Feature path with prairie planting
Prairie planting alongside a path formed of timber set in gravel, with decorative stones


Patios are a good choice if you'd like a space to entertain. By growing plants in pots and containers, or planting around the patio, you can still be surrounded by greenery. Discover some our favourite plants for patios.

Garden patio with container planting
A garden patio with bench and container planting

Ground cover choices

Aside from lawn grasses, there are plenty of other plants that can be used to cover ground. Clover is a tough option, providing flowers for bees and remaining green in droughts. In shade you could try sweet woodruff, lily turf and bergenias. For sun consider mat-forming sedums, thyme or chamomile.

Ground cover alternative lawn
Alternative ground cover comprising sedums, chamomile and thymes

Ornamental grasses

You needn't completely sever your ties with grass – ornamental types can look spectacular planted en masse. For texture and movement, try doing this with Stipa tenuissima or Hordeum spp. (pictured).

Foxtail barley, Hordeum jubatum
Foxtail barley planted en masse as ground cover

Herb garden

Herbs are a bit more low-maintenance compared to veg, so a herb garden is a good option if you're pushed for time. You'll be rewarded with a productive mini-plot providing fresh herbs for the kitchen. Get started with these six essential perennial herbs.

Herb garden
A bee hive beside a herb garden

Tired looking lawn?

If your lawn's looking a bit tired but you don't want to get rid of it, take a look at our top lawn care tips