Grassless garden ideas – no-mow alternatives to lawn and turf that are easy to look after

No time or energy to keep a lawn looking lovely? No problem… we have the best in grass-free gardens

If you don't have the time, space or energy levels for our lawn ideas, you don't have to give up on your dream garden. There are plenty of grassless garden ideas to enjoy over the warmer months – hurrah!

From creating the perfect patio to delightful decking spaces, these garden ideas are perfect for those without the luxury of a lawn. After adopting one of these schemes, you'll want to celebrate your lack of grass, and can sell or give away that mower or strimmer, freeing up space in the shed.

1. Lay extra-large patio tiles for quick coverage

garden with potted plant pot stand and chair

(Image credit: Future PLC /Joanna Henderson)

For an efficient and modern way to cover your garden, turn to contemporary extra-large paving slabs. You will cover the ground fast, with minimal gaps between where weeds might grow.

2. Bed a container garden in gravel

garden with potted plants and brick walls

(Image credit: Future PLC)

3. Lay shingle for a beach feel

beach chair with lantern and gravel

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Missing your days at the seaside? Create a perennial beach feel with a shingle landscape and add coastal features – think deck chairs as seating and suitable planting. Gardening expert David Domoney suggests rosemary, sea kale and cabbage palms, among others.

4. Deck across your garden

garden with canopy bunting table and chair

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If a small garden is something you're struggling with, opt for easy to care for decking rather than a cramped lawn - doing away with the mower will allow you more usable space after all! A few potted plants, garden shade ideas like a canopy or parasol, bunting and a range of seating is all you need!

Related: Garden decking ideas and designs for plots both large and small

5. Pave your way

garden with sofa cushions flowering plant and wood stack

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you want to take a patio further, run limestone paving slabs throughout, with these garden paths leading to individual areas for dining, sunbathing and pottering with plants. Break up the landscaping with flowerbeds to soften the look.

6. Soften the ground with wood chippings

wood chipping with metal chair and table

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Wood chippings are a very natural and forgiving surface as an alternative to lawn. They're a great choice if you have children and is unlikely to attract weeds, reducing the maintenance further.

7. Combine paving with living walls

yellow chair with metal table flower vase

(Image credit: Future PLC /Robert Sanderson)

Flip the idea of greenery on its head by creating boundaries – usually brick walls or wooden fences – of climbing plants and wall-mounted shrubs. Then use hard landscaping in place of turf. For a strong look, also exchange traditional blooms for colour introduced by way of bright furniture.

Related: How to make a living plant wall

8. Mix materials with water features

garden with gravel flowering plant and white marble

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If an endless expanse of paving or decking doesn't appeal, why not break things up with an ornamental bed created with gravel, and shallow trenches of water. Bring your landscaping to life with colour on your garden walls. The brighter and bolder the better. Really go to town and splash your personality about – it's pretty much the one space in your home where anything goes.

9. Widen your borders

garden with white door flowering plant and brick wall

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Losing a lawn doesn't have to mean sacrificing greenery. Take your borders deep across the width of your garden, leaving small channels of moss or wood chipping so you are able to easily tend to your plants and shrubs without damaging leaves and blooms. Or create a wide channel of raised borders, with gravel paths for access either side.

10. Mix decking and gravel

potted plant with sofa cushion and gravel

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Hard landscaping can leave some feeling a little cold, so choose your materials widely. Both timber decking and gravel have a warmer feel that will soften a garden without grass – as do the curved lines used here to separate them. Decking and gravel are also more economical than stone paving when it comes to garden landscaping costs.

11. Cheat with artificial grass

garden with green lawn foliage and cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Swap the lawn mower for a vacuum cleaner - yes, a vacuum cleaner – and lay artificial grass. It gives the same look as grass, obviously, but is far less demanding of your time. Faux needn't look fake, either. The latest designs are far more realistic than you might imagine. Plasticky imitation grass is a thing of the past.

12. Include pockets of foliage

garden with wooden fence shrub and green plant

(Image credit: Future PLC)

A grassless garden needn't mean no greenery. By carefully planning in pockets of planting between decking and paving, you can create the most verdant of spaces. Keep maintenance low by picking plants and shrubs that require little upkeep, such as fatsia, bamboo and hydrangeas.

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.