Oct 252017

Escape the mundane uniformity of an artificial vegetative mat and enjoy some of the visual and aromatic delights the natural world has on offer!

Less maintenance

Mowing, edging, fertilising and weeding of a lawn requires more time and maintenance than well chosen ground covers or garden beds / pavers.

A well selected group of ground covers are less prone to pest attack and diseases than a single lawn species.

Less water

A mulched garden bed with well chosen plants requires less water to look good year round than even the toughest lawn species.

Increase biodiversity

Larger garden beds allow for tiered plantings of increasing heights, which in turn creates a greater sense of depth and space to a garden.

Attract native wildlife into your garden with many butterfly, bird and insect attracting varieties available.

Reasons you may not need a lawn at all

  • Shady dry areas under trees
  • Areas unlikely to be walked over
  • Small or awkward areas
  • Areas with significant slopes

Lawn Alternatives

If you like the open feel of a lawn but don’t want the maintenance or water requirements. Consider the following options…

No Traffic

No traffic open spaces allow for some of the greatest flexibility in style and plant choices. Areas that are traditionally difficult to establish lawn perform well with many alternatives. Regions such as under large trees of near eves can be given a new lease of life with the addition of low water and light requiring lawn alternatives.

Light Traffic

In areas of light traffic it is necessary to choose plants that are tolerant of small levels of disturbance. Plants that are used should be flexible low lying. This will allow them to bounce back when trodden on. For Heavy Traffic use the same varieties as those for areas with light traffic, but with the addition of stepping stones.

Meadow “Lawn” areas

A mixture of grass, lilies, wildflowers and ground covers. Don’t mow… often. To encourage flowering and growth of the meadow it is recommended that the area be cut twice a year using a brush cutter. The optimal times to cut the meadow is in early summer after spring flowering and late autumn. The cut material should then be removed and composted.

No Traffic

Variety Position Maintenance requirements Size of area suitable Weed Potential Availability
S = seed
P= pot
V = viro-cell
T= turf
Marjoram Medium Medium Low S, P
Myoporum parvifolium Low Large Low P
Oregano Medium Medium Low S, P
Parthenocissus sikkimensis Medium Large Low P
Prostrate Grevilleas Low Large Low S, P
Prostrate Rosemary Low Medium Low P
Prostrate Sedum varieties Low Small Low P
Sutera Low Small Low P

Light Traffic

Variety Position Maintenance requirements Size of area suitable Weed Potential Availability
S = seed
P= pot
V = viro-cell
T= turf
Convolvulus sabatius Low Medium Low P
Corsican mint Medium Small Medium P
Dwarf Mondo grass Low Medium Low P, V
Dianthus Low Small Low P
Dichondra Medium Medium Low S, P, V
Lawn Chamomile Medium Medium Low S, P
Penny Royal Medium Small Low S, P
Pratia / Isotoma Medium Small Low P
Prostrate pigface Low Large Low S, P
Sagina Medium Small Low P
Scleranthus Medium Small Low P
Thymus varieties Low Medium Low S, P
Viola hederacea Medium Medium Low S, P

Outer ‘fringe’ grassed areas

These are areas of clumping grasses and can border a lawn area. Ideal for people with children and/or dogs.

Suitable species of ‘fringe’ grasses

Festuca glauca
Carex species
Poa species
Lomandra tinika

  9 Responses to “Lawn Alternatives”

  1. Very disappointed that you do not advocate any indigenous grasses as lawn grass alternatives in this article – weeping grass and wallaby grass make excellent meadows. Also Lomandra tanika is a hybrid species, whereas the indigenous Lomandra species are excellent alternatives and when sourced from indigenous nurseries incredibly cheap. What the indigenous species do for the environment are support, and enhance remnant bushland that is more and more isolated from each other because of increasing developmentin urban and peri urban areas. It would be good to see an organisation that has Sustainability at its heart encouraging understanding and gardianship of these remnant treasures that are the homes of many rare and threatened species of both indigenous plants and indigenous wildlife. Somebody needs to do this if many more plants are not to go extinct. Promoting the range of indigenous plants to your gardening readers would also give them a wonderful extended palette of plants to choose from when more and more commercial plant suppliers reduce the amount of introduced species to ensure a better commercial return. Indigenous plants once established need little extra water, little if any fertiliser and adapt readily to niches provided in home gardens and like introduced plants can be used to create any garden style and pruned to maintain that style.

  2. None of these options consider that having one or two dogs precludes any type of “real” grass. I tried numerous ground covers etc. Not one of them survived the dogs. I now have artificial grass and it is coping very well with the dogs.

    • Even though artificial grass is plastic, at least it does not require watering.

      • Reports from USA indicate that artificial lawn requires more water than many lawn species. In the heat of the summer many people will need to water their artificial lawn to keep it cool enough for humans or animals.

        • You are right! Thank you! It depends on what the lawn is used for – keeping it cool would be important if it is being walked on in the hotter months – but not at other times.

  3. Wow, great to know that there are other options instead of grass, thanks for the information.

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