University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System: Water Quality and the Home Landscape


Sustainable Landscaping: Healthy Environments

Lawn alternatives

by: Carl Salsedo, Ph.D.

Extension Educator, Horticulture.

In many landscape situations, grass may not be the best choice as a plant cover. It may have a hard time growing successfully or it may be hard to mow and maintain, so a different ground cover may be more suitable. Excellent locations for alternative ground covers include areas with steep slopes, wet or shady areas and sites with easily erodible soils. When carefully selected and planted, groundcovers can improve infiltration of water into the soil, slow storm water runoff and reduce landscape maintenance needs. Consider some of these landscape alternatives below (pictures).

In addition to groundcovers, other landscaping techniques help reduce total lawn area, including:

  • Incorporating areas left natural or less manicured at the borders and perimeter of your yard (picture).

  • Planting wildflower meadows to provide colorful, low maintenance alternatives to lawns while creating habitat for birds, butterflies and small animals.

  • Wood decks and stone or pavers or brick patios offer leisure areas while allowing water to filter through to the underlying soil.

  • Flowing water features such as small pools or pond liners introduce sound and texture into the landscape and attract wildlife.

Replace lawn areas with perrenial flowers and ground covers

Sustainable Landscaping:
Healthy Environments