10 Eco-Friendly Lawn Alternatives To Grass

In today’s society, there seems to be a growing trend of people becoming more and more environmentally conscience. More and more people are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and one way that many people don’t think about is their lawn.

So, does maintaining that perfect lawn requires more work (and money) than you’re willing to put in? And you want to go eco-friendly, but don’t know how? If so, you’re in luck! There are many eco-friendly alternatives to grass that can give your lawn a stunning look.

It is possible to have a beautiful lawn that doesn’t use traditional grass landscaping, while also providing a sustainable area to benefit the environment. Here are 10 of the best eco-friendly lawn alternatives to grass that you can find.

Why Get Rid of Your Grass Lawn?

For many of us, a lush, green lawn is the epitome of a perfect yard. Unfortunately, grass lawns require a lot of resources to maintain. They are often treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which can pollute the environment.

Ground animals and birds may consume berries or seeds that have been contaminated with pesticides from the ground. Similarly, pesticides and fertilizers washed into waterways by rainfall can enter rivers, lakes, streams, and seas via the drain system. This may cause fish and other animals in the ocean to become poisoned.

They also require regular watering, which can strain local water supplies. In addition, mowing a grass lawn creates air pollution and emits greenhouse gases. Suburban grass lawns use over 3 trillion gallons of water each year, 200 million gallons of gas (for lawn mowing), and 70 million pounds of pesticides every year across the United States.

For all these reasons, it’s important to consider more sustainable alternatives to a traditional grass lawn. There are a number of environment-friendly options available, from artificial turf to native plants. With a little research, you can find the perfect solution for your yard – and help reduce your impact on the environment.

Factors to Consider

When you’re considering an eco-friendly lawn alternative, there are a few factors to keep in mind.

Your Soil and Climate

First, consider your climate and the condition of soil in your yard. Different types of plants will do better in different climates, and in different soil conditions.

The soil in your garden is important to the health of your plants. The type of soil, the pH, the temperature, and the amount of water it holds all play a role in how well your plants will grow. If you’re not sure what kind of soil you have, take a sample to your local garden center and ask for help.

The climate where you live also matters. If you live in an area with long, hot summers, you’ll need to choose plants that are drought-tolerant. For this example, succulents may be a good option for you. If you live in an area with cold winters, make sure you choose plants that can tolerate frost; sedges may be a better choice.

The amount of sunlight your yard gets will also affect the type of plants you can grow. If you have a shady yard, you’ll need to choose shade-tolerant plants. If you have a sunny yard, you can choose from a wider range of plants.

Use of Space

Think about how you use your lawn. Do you have children or pets who play on it? Do you entertain often? Do you garden? The answer to these questions will help you choose the right type of lawn alternative for your needs.

For example, if you have children or pets who play on your lawn, you’ll want to choose a low-maintenance option that can withstand heavy foot traffic. If you entertain often, you may want an option that is attractive and easy to care for. And if you garden, you’ll need to choose a lawn alternative that won’t compete with your plants for water and nutrients.

If you have a large backyard, you will need to consider a lawn alternative that can cover a lot of ground, and it can be expensive to choose the most fashionable or picturesque option. If you have a small yard, you have more variety of options to choose from.

Maintenance and Care

Different types of lawn alternatives require different levels of maintenance. Some, like artificial turf, require very little care. Others, like native plants, may require more frequent watering or occasional pruning. Consider how much time and effort you’re willing to put into caring for your lawn before you make a decision.


The cost of your lawn alternative will vary depending on the type of option you choose. Artificial turf is typically the most expensive option, while native plants are usually the least expensive. Consider your budget when you’re making your decision.

Non-Plant Options

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance way to spruce up your backyard, rocks might be the answer. You can either use rocks that you find on your property, or purchase rocks from a landscaping supply store.

Depending on the size and type of rocks you choose, they can be used to create borders, pathways, or simply used as decoration. Rocks are also a great option if you have pets that like to dig, as they can help discourage digging and protect your plants.

If you’re not a fan of rocks, there are other options available. Artificial turf is becoming increasingly popular, as it requires no watering or mowing and can last for years with proper care. Creating a large deck off of your back patio is also a great option. Wood chops and gravel are unique and interesting options as well.

The 10 Best Eco-Friendly Grass Lawn Alternatives

Here is our list of the 10 best sustainable alternatives to a grass lawn, based on the factors discussed above.


Groundcovers grow low and wide but not tall, so they don’t need to be mowed. This group of low-maintenance plants spreads fast, kills weeds, and creates a nice walkable surface for your lawn.

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting groundcovers for your yard, including the climate where you live and the terrain layout.

In hot, arid regions, you can use fast-growing, drought-tolerant lantana or stonecrop succulents. When they’re young, they require moderate watering with a sprinkler or a watering nozzle, but once they’re established, they only require light rainfall and no water in the winter months.

Shady places are also no problem. Sweet woodruff and lily-of-the-valley perennial groundcovers grow into dense canopies of leaves and flowers in shaded gardens, where they produce lush foliage and bloom. Because shade-loving groundcovers require less water, your water bill and your environment impact will plummet.

There are many alternatives if you have a space to fill with groundcover plants, including Japanese sweet flag, Barberry cotoneaster, Asian star jasmine, Creeping jenny, and other creeping herbs like thyme and oregano.


Moss, like groundcover, may grow in your yard with little care and give you a lush green carpet-like lawn you can be proud of. Other than the work of planting it, maintaining moss is not difficult; it doesn’t require water weeding, mowing, or fertilization.

Moss can be either an acrocarp type or a pleurocarp type. Acrocarp mosses grow in clusters, whereas pleurocarp mosses develop into a more smooth carpet. A variety of plant species thrive in a variety of different environments and provide a rainbow of colors.

See our post on how to grow a moss lawn if you’re interested in this option.

Corsican Mint

This fragrant garden herb not only has a lovely scent, but it’s also an excellent flowering grass alternative. Its tiny purple flowers are set off by the small, rounded green leaves. Mint is known for spreading rapidly; Corsican mint, on the other hand, is regarded as a well-behaved creeper. It won’t take over your whole yard all at once.

Corsican Mint is a low-maintenance perennial groundcover that thrives in areas where there isn’t a lot of weight put on it. While it can withstand moderate footsteps, it won’t tolerate significant foot traffic. However, its adaptability is advantageous because it may be grown in full sunshine and light shade, as long as the soil is moist and fertile.

Creeping Thyme

Is there a lot of activity and foot traffic in your backyard? Creeping thyme is an excellent groundcover for high-traffic locations. This adaptable herb grows only 2 to 4 inches tall and requires no mowing, little watering, and limited maintenance. It will grow in any climate — full sun, partial shade, and even fully shaded lawns.

Dutch Clover

Clover is another low-maintenance grass-like plant that can be used as a green cover crop to improve nitrogen in the soil and, when planted as an eco-friendly landscaping option, it may be quite beautiful. Clover has a large root system with a dense earthy smell that enriches the soil, aerates it, and suppresses weeds.

Newly established clover requires two watering sessions per week, but then never needs to be watered once it has grown. It’s a perennial ground cover that remains green all year without relying on fertilization or trimming – the ideal plant for your garden.

The most popular type of lawn grass is Dutch white clover, but if you enjoy the more rustic look, red clover and yellow blossom flowers (which grow up to 36 inches tall) are ideal for creating a “wild meadow” atmosphere.

Ornamental Grasses

One of the most effective methods to decrease the size of your grass lawn is to turn part of it into a beautiful ornamental grass display. Ornamental grasses are drought-resistant and low-maintenance, thriving in almost every type of soil with little to no fertilizers. They’re also naturally resistant to disease and pests, so you can skip the dangerous and noxious herbicides and pesticides.

Traditional turf is different from ornamental grasses in several ways. For one thing, the majority of ornamentals are clump grasses, which means their roots do not produce rhizomes, the horizontal shoots that birth new plants, relying instead on seeds for replication.

They don’t need to be mowed, either. Ornamental grass develops unique forms, such as tufts and sprays or glistening swaths, and it maintains its form well into the winter, remaining erect and attractive even under snowfall.

However, you can’t walk on them. If you need to use every square foot of your yard for children or pets, then ornamental grasses might not be best for you. These kinds of plants should really only be used to create a beautiful appearance on the lawn that does not require foot activity.

Native Flowers

A beautiful perennial bed full of local flowers is a great environmentally friendly grass option. Native plants have been developed to thrive in your region’s ecosystem. Local birds, butterflies, and bees benefit from the presence of native flora. Native plants will flourish in your area’s soil without requiring much attention or fertilizer.

Native flowers and shrubs that flourish in your region are available from your local garden center, cooperative extension, or native plant society. For an easier maintenance schedule, you may choose plants that don’t need to be trimmed as they grow and don’t require support.

Perennials, on the other hand, offer nice aesthetic appeal as well as year-after-year production. The disadvantage is that they must be divided from time to time in order to maintain optimum health and appearance. Consider it a thank you present for your friends or family members who may use them in their gardens.

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf does not require any maintenance. There’s no mowing, watering, fertilizing, or weeding required! On occasion, you may want to use a leaf blower to remove dead leaves or other small debris, but that’s all.

For some, grass-free lawn alternatives may appear to be the ideal answer. Others, on the other hand, could decide that they prefer live plants and natural greenery instead of grass. Nowadays, artificial grass is incredibly lifelike, even to the most discerning consumer. Without getting up close, it’s difficult to tell them apart from genuine grass!

It is true that growing real greenery has a greater environmental benefit than fake turf. Living greenery, however, also needs a lot more upkeep, which can offset its positive environmental impact. If you reside in an area with limited water usage, artificial turf lawns may be a viable alternative for you.

Creeping Charlie

It may appear strange to suggest what is generally regarded as one of the most aggressive weeds on earth. True, Creeping Charlie spreads rapidly and poses a major problem if you don’t pick your site carefully.

However, this mint family member can also be an excellent choice for thick, low-maintenance ground cover in shaded areas. You just want to be sure the Creeping Charlie is planted in an area with plenty of room and an unbreakable barrier around it.

Firstly, it needs no mowing, water, or fertilizer. Creeping Charlie is a hands-off alternative to picky turf grass. Seriously, you may plant your Creeping Charlie bed and never look at it again, and it will survive.

It’s also quite robust, able to withstand a lot of abuse. It’s at least as hardy as traditional grass, so pet owners or parents won’t have to worry about the activity causing damage.


Chamomile isn’t only low-maintenance and environmentally responsible; it’s also attractive and delightfully fragrant, with each step releasing an apple-like scent. Chamomile thrives in bright light or partial shade, making it ideal for almost any lawn size or type.

Chamomile’s adaptability to difficult terrains, steep slopes, and hard-to-manage regions is second to none. It’s a simple answer to problems where conventional turf isn’t suitable in the least. Chamomile is a rich source of nitrogen that gives continual fertilization to itself as well as surrounding plants.

There’s no need to water it as well, as it is drought resistant, and can survive in highly arid regions. It also needs considerably less mowing than your average grass lawn.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re looking to replace your entire lawn or just want to make a few changes, we hope this article has given you some ideas on eco-friendly grass alternatives. Our top 10 picks include plants that are easy to care for, low maintenance, and look great in any landscape.

While it’s admittedly a lot of work to get rid of your grass lawn, the benefits are many and varied. From saving time on maintenance and water usage to creating a more eco-friendly space, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to consider one of the alternatives we’ve listed.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider contacting a professional landscaper who can help you choose the right plants for your space and give you tips on how to maintain them. With a little effort, you can create an amazing outdoor space that doesn’t rely on traditional grass lawns—and is better for both you and the environment. What eco-friendly grass alternative will you try first?

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Written by Linda Chan
Linda Chan is a passionate gardener and writer with a background in horticulture and landscape design. She has over 10 years of experience working in the lawn care industry and has a deep understanding of the science and art of keeping a lawn healthy and beautiful.