Front Yards without turf. What a concept!

Front Yard without turf, Santa Barbara, CA

Front Yard without turf, Santa Barbara, CA

Most if not all front yards planted with a lawn are using the lawn as nothing else but a green “placeholder”, a cookie cutter solution to landscaping the front of a house.

Front yard without turf #2, Santa Barbara,CA

Front yard without turf #2, Santa Barbara,CA

Let’s face it. It is never used functionally as a play area for the kids or as a game court (croquet), but is merely something green that takes weekly mowing and maintenance along with frequent watering. It costs money for no good reason.

A side yard without turf, Santa Barbara, CA

A side yard without turf, Santa Barbara, CA

A lawn-free front yard is just the solution, especially for small areas so common in the downsized residential lots. Here are some attractive solutions. Note the use of a patch of no-mow grass (or sedge) to give the look of a lawn without the water and maintenance.

13 thoughts on “Front Yards without turf. What a concept!”

  • DC Schmidt
    DC Schmidt 01/11/11 at 4:21 am

    I like this concept. Please post more pictures and examples as the winter passes to give me some more ideas. Thank you!

  • Carolyn

    I agree--more, please! Also, the challenge I have is that we have a huge tree in the front, which we desperately need in the summer for shade. I'd love to know what plants might do well underneath, with it's mostly shady light requirements under there, especially in Colorado. Most of the xeric plants we've been using need full (or mostly) sun.

    • David Salman

      There are a modest number of shade tolerant groundcovers that will do well in shade. Lamium (Deadnettle), Lamiastrum 'Herman's Pride', Vinca major (green and variegated), Symphytum (ornamental Comfrey) and Brunnera (Siberian Bugloss)are good for shade. Also spring blooming bulbs like Muscari (Grape Hyacinth), hyacinthoides (Bluebells) and daffodils will be happy there as well.

  • Kristine

    I'd like to see more examples from other parts of the country as well. How can similar designs be made with cold hardy plants?

  • Mary

    Here in zone 5 and clay soil we have an amazing palette of plants to choose from. Most of the shorter 'step-on' plants do quite well planted around sidewalks and flagstone or pavers or that allows sharper drinage. Some are even evergreen (or in the case of my Ajuga black scallop, ever purple). Mix in a few very dwarf conifers and small grasses and it is an easy care yard with year around interest. Just watch out for the plant police and the 3' local ordinance heights!

  • Lynn


    Can you give a guesstimate as to when the ABQ store will have starter vegetable plants in stock and what the selection of vegetables will be? Will there be many heirloom varieties that we can collect seeds from for future years?

    I'm planning out my needs for vegetable garden supplies and would like to purchase plants from you if you will carry them in the store. If not, I'll have to buy seeds and start my own, but need to know ahead of time if you'll carry them at the store.

    I've ordered tomato plants from your catalog for two years, and want to get them in person this year.

    • David Salman

      Our tomatoes will be ready for early April planting. We offer the same heirloom varieties as in the High Country Gardens catalog.


  • vineeta

    David, I am delighted that American gardeners are warming to the idea of a front yard without a lawn. I did this back in the mid-1990s and converted my front yard into a mini Japanese zen garden, replacing all the lawn with gravel, and landscaping with rocks. I have flower beds edging the gravel where I've planted perennials that do well in water-wise gardens. Voila! No weeding, no mowing, and very little watering, and a lovely garden to boot.

  • Britt

    My family just moved to California (zone 9) from from the east coast and I am so excited about the prospect of creating a drought tolerant garden. I was wondering if anyone knows what specific type of grass is in the first photo in "Front Yard Without Turf" from Santa Barbara ( Would appreciate any information... Thanks!

    • High Country Gardens

      Hi Britt,
      It looks like a sedge lawn but we are not 100% certain. Sedge lawns are an environmentally-friendly lawn alternative that are a close botanical relative to a conventional lawn. Here is a great blog post about these no-mow alternative which require little care but look beautiful.

  • lawn edging ideas

    Terrific work! That is the type of information that are supposed to be shared across the web. Disgrace on Google for not positioning this submit upper! Come on over and talk over with my web site . Thank you =)

  • Louis-Charles

    Thanks for the post. The chemically dependent, water wasting lawns
    that have dotted our landscape are beginning to take their tolls.
    I prefer a more utilitarian approach incorporating herbs and other edible plants.

  • Green Turf

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Good information like this is rare. Please continue to write great articles!

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