How to Landscape a Yard Without Grass

garage and driveway with decorative stone

Perhaps your yard is too shaded, the soil is poor, or you don’t want to use a lot of water to maintain a lush lawn. Whatever the reason for your landscaping woes, rest assured that your yard can look great without grass. All you need is the right landscaping ideas and a little creativity.

How to Landscape a Shaded Yard

Grass requires plenty of sunshine to grow lush and thick. If your yard is shaded most of the time, stick with shade-loving plants for the best results. The trick is to choose plants with attractive foliage, not flowers. Here are some ideas:

  • Groundcover: These low-lying plants never exceed 12 to 18 inches tall. You can grow them alone or between taller plants to cover bare patches of soil.
  • Taller plants: Japanese painted fern, astilbe, and European ginger help break up the flat plane of short groundcover in your shaded yard.
  • Native plants: Look for forest-dwelling plants at your local nursery. These are well-adapted to growing in the shade and rarely require fertilizing or other maintenance.
  • Paths and sitting areas: Your shaded yard is the perfect place to relax, so create an outdoor haven with stone pavers or brick pathways, benches, hammocks, or furniture. Add bird fountains, trellises, and garden art for vertical interest as well.

How to Landscape a Yard with Poor Soil

If you have heavy clay soil, nutrient-poor soil, or simply can’t get anything to grow, you may be planting the wrong things. Here are some ideas for front yard landscaping without grass, using perennials that grow well in poor soil:

  • Lenten roses: These tough plants withstand poor soil, drought, heat, and humidity. They grow up to two feet tall and prefer part sun or full shade.
  • Periwinkle: This creeping groundcover produces star-shaped blossoms and grows around one foot tall. It prefers part shade and suppresses weed growth wherever it spreads.
  • Bleeding hearts: The distinctive heart-shaped blossoms of this resilient bush add a cottage-garden feel to your landscape. Bleeding hearts prefer part shade.
  • Blackjack sedum: Easy to grow and maintain, this variety of sedum features dark purple foliage and light pink blossoms. They grow up to three feet tall and thrive in full sun.

How to Landscape a Drought-Tolerant Yard

If you live in a drought-prone area, you may be interested in landscaping without grass to save water. Your best bet is to implement xeriscaping techniques. Here are some examples of low-maintenance plants that thrive in drought conditions:

  • Cacti: If a plant has thorns or spikes, chances are it will work well in a low-water landscape.
  • Succulents: The moisture-filled leaves of these desert dwellers conserve water to survive times of drought.
  • Ornamental grasses: You can find varieties that are tall or short, upright or splayed, to serve as a focal point in your yard.
  • Inorganic mulch: Steer clear of pine bark, straw, and shredded leaves, which retain too much moisture and can lead to plant rot. Instead, fill in the gaps with pebbles or stones.

Get Help Landscaping Your Yard

Now that you know a little more about how to landscape a yard without grass, you may be eager to implement some of these ideas. No matter what you have in mind, The Grounds Guys® can bring it to life! Contact us today for a free job estimate on landscape design services. Then, complement your grassless yard with a new deck from Mr. Handyman!

Did you know? The Grounds Guys is a Neighbourly company. Learn more about Neighbourly’s community of home service experts at