Grass can add a natural new look to your lawn. But what happens when you cannot grow it? Many factors can prevent grass from growing. For example, if you do not have enough time to maintain it, if the weather is bad or the soil is poor, then, of course, you will have to turn to a better alternative. But what are some cheap alternatives to grass lawn?
I know that lawn care is difficult and finding the right solution seems almost impossible. You might have so many questions that you can’t find the right answer too. I created this list specifically for people who are on the search for other lawn possibilities.
Yes… grass can be expensive, but the real issue is time. Taking care of your grass lawn requires so much time, think about it, it needs proper and regular watering, season fertilizing, seeding, aeration, mowing, raking, and even more. It’s a job that doesn’t pay!
Table of Contents
- 1 Considerations When Searching for Grass Alternatives
- 1.1 Cost
- 1.2 Lawn Size
- 1.3 Climate
- 1.4 Maintenance
- 1.5 Soil Type
- 1.6 1. Mulch
- 1.7 2. Artificial Grass
- 1.8 3. Install Pavers
- 1.9 4. Rock and/or Sand Garden
- 1.10 5. Recycled Wooden Decks
- 1.11 6. Paint The Lawn Green
- 1.12 7. Gravel
- 1.13 8. Ground-Covering Plants and Trees
- 1.14 9. Replace Grass with Micro Clover
- 1.15 10. Allow Native Plants to Grow
- 2 Final Thoughts
Considerations When Searching for Grass Alternatives
The overall cost of the grass alternative could be the biggest consideration for many of us. If we are searching for cheap grass alternatives we probably want something that will either cost less upfront or over a period of time. One thing about real grass is that it can be costly upfront and the upkeep maintenance fees are also high, so realistically it isn’t hard to find more affordable solutions.
The size of your lawn is definitely an important part to consider. With more land comes more work and usually more costs.
Depending on where you live and what climate zone you are located, you might be limited to some of these options. For example, some plants and ground covers might not grow in certain areas. Another example is that if you live in a place that gets snow, artificial turf might be a poor decision. I am a Realtor in Canada and I have seen luxury homes wit artificial turf pulled up from winter months. It might be an easy fix but it still needs to be considered!
The amount of maintenance is extremely important to consider. This will determine maintenance costs over time, and more importantly the amount of work you would be required to do. This is something you should think about so you can relax in the future!
The soil type is important to consider when you are thinking about one of the growing options such as ground covers, or native plants. Just because the plants are native does not make them grow automatically! Soil health and quality will help determine whether or not you can grow certain plants or trees.
Anyways, here are ten cheap alternatives to grass you can use on your lawn:
- Artificial Grass
- Install Pavers
- Rock and/or Sand Garden
- Recycled Wooden Decks
- Paint the Lawn Green
- Ground Covering Plants and Trees
- Replace Grass with Micro Clover
- Allow Native Plants to Grow
Many people lay mulch on their lawn and create walking paths around them. These usually cost 0.20-0.60 $ per sq. meter. Mulch landscaping includes adding decaying leaves, bark, or compost instead of grass. This takes only a little effort and maintenance and is easier than that of a grass lawn. You can use landscape fabric under the mulch as a barrier to reduce the number of weeds that will grow. One of the benefits of this type of landscaping is that it helps to maintain your soil in top condition.
They help to maintain the water level of soil at a favorable amount and increase the fertility of the soil. They will also help to reduce soil erosion as well as damages to the soil from pets. Depending on your preference you can use organic or natural mulch like hardwood chips, pine straw, grass clippings, and crushed leaves, inorganic or synthetic mulch like pebbles, crushed rock, plastic, or rubber mats or chips.
The Mulch idea is affordable and extremely low maintenance if done correctly. Installing a fabric barrier makes this option much easier to maintain since grass or weeds will not show through the mulch.
When it becomes difficult to grow grass in your lawn, artificial grass is one of the most popular alternatives. This is grass made using synthetic fibers, which looks very similar to the appearance of natural grass. While this was earlier only used on sports fields and arenas, it is now widely being used in residences such as décor for lawns and gardens. These would usually last around twenty years, but it will also depend on the maintenance as well as the amount of traffic in your area.
These are usually laid on a 35mm layer of compacted sharp sand so remember that it is not to be used on all types of soils. The popularity of artificial grass is due to many reasons. They do not require watering so there is no need to worry about doing this in the morning and the evening. They also need no mowing, fertilizer, or pesticide to keep them safe from pests or weeds from growing. While artificial grass can be a little expensive to buy – around 0.90-3.50 $ per sq. meter depending on your area – the maintenance cost is almost non-existent! I think this option is the most stylish cheap alternatives to grass lawn.
3. Install Pavers
Pavers consist of covering an area using concrete, stones, bricks, or tiles. Pavers or paving stones, however, are one of the best options to have instead of grass. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is by installing it yourself. Doing so can save you a lot of money. The materials are about 1.50-5.00 dollars per sq. ft. but labor would be double that. If you are looking for a cheaper option, take a look at some online markets and surf through platforms like Facebook or Craigslist.
Many people dig up old pavers and give them away for free. You can pick them up and install them yourself. There are many benefits you can enjoy by installing pavers on your lawn. First and foremost is strength and durability. Your lawn will be crack-proof and will be able to withstand the harsh weather elements from storms to heat.
You will also not have to worry about wheels of your vehicle ruining your grass or keeping an eye out for your kids who would run on your newly done grass landscape. And while they can cost a lot when you are purchasing them, the repair costs will be really low since they do not need repairs as often as other materials you would use on your lawn.
4. Rock and/or Sand Garden
This is also known as dry landscaping. It is a form of Japanese Zen gardening and is created by using stylized rocks or sand. You can use crushed granite, fine gravel, or small pebbles to spread across a flat surface and create a rock or sand garden. Gravel or sand is carefully raked to create a calming effect as well as an aesthetic look of water ripples. Most of the time, when creating dry landscaping, rocks are preferred over sand, as they are less likely to be disturbed by rain or winds.
When creating a rock or sand garden, the style you chose depends on the size of the rocks, types of the rocks or sand, colors of the rocks, and sand used as well as the number of plants you are willing to include. Unless you are including plant life that is difficult to maintain, a rock garden does not need much maintenance.
A sand garden, however, needs a little more care than a rock garden as sand can easily get swept away due to strong winds or rain. Ensuring that your sand garden is safe from the elements is something you need to think of. These gardens can also be used as a peaceful getaway and are also great places to have water features such as fountains.
5. Recycled Wooden Decks
If people are selling off wood or timber in your area, pick some up and create a deck! You will need to purchase screws and a drill is handy, but the amount of money you save will be worth it. Try a pallet patio. Free pallets are available almost anywhere and are dirt cheap. Pick them up and put together a deck. Some of the wood that is popular for constructing decks include redwood, cedar, and pine. Wooden decks are a great way not only to add a little style to your patio but also to increase the property value.
Since decks are easier to paint, you can easily match it to the exterior décor of your house and without it clashing horribly with your home’s architecture. It also provides you with some additional space. You can add some furniture and use it as an outdoor relaxing place, to greet your guests, hold a party, or even for adding more plants and garden décor such as lights.
6. Paint The Lawn Green
If you’re having trouble growing grass, just paint your current lawn green. This costs about 25-35 cents per sq. meter. Lawn painting is widely used in golf courses and football fields as a method of touching up the brown grass spots. However, water restrictions and drought situations have caused difficulties for homeowners who are interested in having a lawn in their garden. It has become hard to maintain lawns as well as to find methods to keep the grass green due to various reasons.
Therefore, lawn painting can be considered as one of the best alternatives to maintain green grass. Non-toxic and biodegradable ingredients are used to make lawn paints, making it harmless to both humans and animals.
You can either spray the paint yourself or hire professionals to do it. If you choose to do it yourself, there are a few things that have to be considered before the painting such as having a dry and well-mowed lawn, sunny and windless weather, doing a color test on a hidden part and adding water to lighten the color, spraying in a circular pattern and applying two coats to get the best results. This idea is a super-fast way to get green in your grass and one of the easier cheap alternatives to grass lawn.
There are plenty of different gravel color options to style your yard and gravel can be an easier and cheap alternatives to grass lawn. If you are expecting a beautiful but low maintenance garden, gravel is the best material. Gravel can be used in gardens for many purposes. It is affordable and at the same time adds detail to a garden. Gravel is easier to maintain than soil and it is considered eco-friendly and animal-friendly.
It can be used according to personal preferences such as contemporary or traditional style gardens. Color coordination is important when using gravel. If gravel is used with another material, you must select colors that match the gravel and such other materials.
There are several types of gravel for you to choose from according to your purposes such as pea gravel, crushed rock, decomposed granite, and path fines and drain rock. Pea gravel is the most popular gravel type and used for pathways, patios, and ground covers. These stones are round and roughly pea-sized.
Crushed rock is used to produce rounded edges. A good soil foundation must be created to install the gravel in a pathway or in seating areas whereas a weed blocker made of fabric must be applied when gravel is laid on the soil of a flowerbed.
8. Ground-Covering Plants and Trees
Trees add attractive centerpieces when designing landscapes. However, the ground surrounding the trees could become a problem. It is hard for the grass to grow around the roots and shade. So instead of leaving bare spaces around the tree trunk, installing an attractive ground cover would make your garden look nice.
The cover plants must be the plants that do not require much sunlight and moisture like regular plants. You must select the ground cover plants according to which tree those plants are going to grow beneath. Some trees leave no sunlight underneath the branches and also those that have smaller branches letting sunlight reach the ground.
Therefore, it is important to examine the types of ground cover plants to determine the type which is suitable for your garden. Some common types are ajuga, lungwort, foamflower, creeping juniper, monkey grass, periwinkle, pachysandra, wild violets, and hosta.
The ground preparing process for covering plants is the same as for regular plants. You can plant these at any time of the year, but early in the spring and late in the fall would be better. You need to water these plants once a week until they grow and spread. After that, natural rainfall is sufficient for them to grow, expect in intense dry periods or droughts.
9. Replace Grass with Micro Clover
Micro clover is a type of a small clover. It has tiny leaves and grows low on the ground. A micro clover lawn can be grown with a combination of grass and clover which adds nitrogen to the soil and reduces the need to use fertilizer. Growing a micro clover lawn is not very different from a regular lawn but it tends to grow faster than grass seeds. It will be dormant in the winter and grow back during the spring. It is capable of tolerating heat and drought to some extent.
However, it needs to be watered during intense heat and dryness. A micro clover lawn has to be mowed to 3 to 3.5 inches and no shorter. It is important to keep in mind that micro clover will produce flowers in the summer. If you dislike the flowers, you are free to mow the lawn to eliminate them.
These flowers attract bees, so if there are children about, it is better to get rid of them. Because the micro clovers add fertilizer to the grass, it helps the grass to maintain a healthier color for a longer period and requires less water and no fertilizer at all. The cloves grow densely which prevents the growth of weeds.
10. Allow Native Plants to Grow
If you are looking for a natural way, choosing native plants is one of the cheap alternatives to grass that I would recommend. Native landscaping or natural landscaping allows native plants like trees, shrubs, and groundcover to grow on your lawn. We tend to use a variety of methods to ensure that our gardens stay in top condition.
However, native landscaping is one method where you do not have to put in much effort into landscaping. Native plants are much easier to grow as well as maintain.
Since you will be using the plants that are native to your area or that already grow in your lawn, they will adapt better to the soil of your garden. They will also show better resistance to the local weather. So if you are worried about the weather in your area or other physical factors such as the soil and water not being good for grass growth, you can always try out landscaping using native plants.
So take your pick from these ten alternatives when you are planning your landscaping changes. Remember to take into consideration the cost, climate, watering, and maintenance as well as the soil type.
I know that grass is not always something you want to deal with, and these options were designed to find you. I found creative designs that the average person probably would not have thought about, which is what makes this list unique.
If there are any cheap alternatives to grass lawn that is not on this list I want you to list them below in the comment section. I hope you enjoyed reading our 10 Cheap Alternatives to Grass Lawn article and don’t forget to subscribe!
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.