Low-Maintenance Landscaping: Water-friendly Alternatives

stone walkway in garden

A green grass covered yard contributes to the curb appeal but lush lawns come with a big price tag, especially if you consider the care and maintenance costs too. Think of the Saturdays you will have to spend mowing, edging, aerating and watering. Then there is an environmental standpoint with green yards, some lawn pesticides or herbicides can harm our health, and have been linked to cancer, reproductive defects or kidney damage. Now consider the high water requirements for natural grass lawns too. The Southeast and Florida state have been experiencing a dry spell, which means severe water restrictions, specifically for lawns too.

No wonder then that proactive homeowners have been replacing conventional grass lawns with low-water & easy maintenance landscaping alternatives that are better for the environment and cheaper on the wallet.

Planning Your Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Before starting on your lawn renovation, you have to consider your preferences and needs, in determining the layout of your yard and how you plan to use it. Also check site climate conditions such as sunlight, frequency and amount of rain and wind conditions before installing landscape of your choice. Here are a few questions to consider so you can make the right choice-

Is the yard for children or pets to play, or just for looks?

Will the yard serve any additional objective, like an outdoor kitchen area or entertaining space?

Do you want to use features, like vegetable garden, or keep some parts green with artificial turf or drought resistant plants?

You can also look at limiting the natural grass space in your yard by designing walkways, flowerbeds and plant borders that are visually appealing too. You can design a yard with hardscape features, like a large patio and low-maintenance ground covers, such as walkways with gravel, bark, or mulch with some native shrubs. I have also included some pros and cons for each idea in order to help you choose the right lawn alternative for your home and family.


Besides the attractive appearance, moss is a good low maintenance alternative to grass for a shady area in the yard. This low-growing nonvascular plant gets its nutrition from the air and moisture from the dew or fog.  Therefore moss yards need little attention and no fertilizer.  There are many varieties of moss such as sheet moss or fern moss. In areas of frequent footfall, you can intersperse moss covering with stepping-stone pathways.


Gravel is an economical, no maintenance alternative that can be used to make design changes to your landscape. You can choose from different sizes and colors of gravel to create a budget friendly ground cover. It requires no water and also inhibits weed growth. If you want to add color and texture to your gravel yard, you can always use scattered stones or pavers.

 Wood Chips or Bark  

With wood chips or bark for your ground cover, you get attractive and inexpensive material that is easily available as a lawn alternative. It requires minimal-maintenance with periodic replacements of wood chips or bark and raking leaves to keep the ground cover clean. One thing to be aware of is that wood chips or bark loses color and breaks down with time.


Patios are a utilitarian alternative to grass lawns, as this hardscape feature can provide a good area for family meals, outdoor entertainment or grilling purposes. You can design the patio according to your choice and convenience with paving stones or stamped concrete. Large sandstones or flagstone can add warmth, texture and beauty to any landscape. Though it may take up a lot of your yard space and be a little expensive when installing, it can increase the property value of your home too.


For a flat ground that needs minimal maintenance, many homeowners prefer using pre-cut slabs of cement to cover large areas. Pavers are hardy and can withstand a lot of footfall to last many years. You can also design your yard with pavers spaced a few inches apart with plant groundcover, like thyme, between the edges.


Using shell can prove to be a colorful, durable and environmentally friendly landscape choice for yards. Shell can provide drainage, help the soil retain moisture and reduce weed growth too. Shells make a striking contrast as natural outlines around tropical plants or palm trees. You can bring the beach into your yard by using shells for walkways and driveways.

If you have any favorite grass alternative that you recommend using in the yard to reduce the use of water and chemicals, do share with us.

Give Davis Concrete a call at 800 -910-6928 for all your landscaping needs!


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