Ditch the Mower: 8 Lawn-Free Landscaping Ideas
Homeowner Andy McKinnon couldn’t be happier. “I enjoy cocktails on the porch with neighbors, and people are always stopping to ask about the mondo grass.” Occasionally Andy pulls a weed or two, and that’s about it. To keep even that in check, each February and May the yard is treated with a pre-emergence herbicide.
Walt confesses to overplanting low-maintenance yards so they’ll fill in faster, leaving little room for weeds. For instance, the dwarf mondo grass in Andy’s yard was planted 6 inches apart (as opposed to 9 to 12 inches); the Heller Japanese hollies are 2½ feet apart (rather than 3½ feet). Consistent spacing is key―and be sure to mulch.
Focus your efforts near the front door if the area is large, and then mow the rest. Define your space with a fence, wall, or low hedge of shrubs that never need pruning, as Walt did with the Heller Japanese hollies near the street. Other good choices: dwarf yaupon holly or rosemary.
They should be evergreen, require no pruning, and fit site conditions so they won’t need a lot of care. Save one spot for annual color. Fragrant plants like gardenias are a welcome bonus.
Break up a sea of green while adding texture, color, and contrast. Purely decorative, this swath of stone could also be functional, moving water away from the home. Here, it moves your eye across the garden.
Forget the tried-and-true boxwood. Add an unexpected pop of color with a pot of ‘Mona Lavender’ plectranthus. It will brighten the shorter days of fall and add wow to your yard.
Walt got a new look by using very common plants. Best of all, they’re low-maintenance.
- ‘Tropicanna’ canna (pictured)
- Asparagus fern
- Dwarf gardenia
- Heller Japanese holly
- Dwarf mondo grass
- Autumn fern