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Guest Post: 3 Water Saving Landscape Alternatives to Grass

The past decade has been among the driest since the advent of modern meteorology, and the persistent drought plaguing vast swaths of the U.S. shows no sign of abating. Already-dry areas in the Southwest are facing severe water shortages that could soon impact the quality and availability of the area’s drinking water, while large-scale crop failures are becoming increasingly common even in moister regions in the Midwest and South.

Do your part to conserve water and save yourself some cash with these three water-saving residential landscaping ideas.


If you live in the Southwest, you’re already familiar with rock gardens as an alternative to grass lawns. Rocks offer two distinct advantages over grass lawns: They’re permanent fixtures that don’t need to be rearranged or reseeded each year, and they require no water or fertilizer.

Rocks also demonstrate an aesthetic flexibility that grass can’t match: Rather than overwhelming the real estate on which they sit, they can be paired tastefully with water-saving native grasses or shrubs like juniper bushes, cacti and acacia trees, and even complement the color of your home. Rock landscapes work well in wetter climates too.


Artificial Grass

Regularly watering your lawn keeps it healthy and green, but it’s a major expense. Depending on where you live and the amount of water your household uses otherwise, daily lawn watering may account for more than half of your total water bill.

Artificial grass reproduces the look and feel of a healthy lawn without drawbacks like dust, mud, dead spots, and need fertilize and aerate. It’s also more difficult for pets and wild animals to dig up, and it won’t die just because you forget to move your lawn furniture.

Tiling and Paving

If you have a patio or walkway somewhere on your property, you’re already familiar with the power of outdoor tiles and paving stones. Tiling and paving is especially useful in shady spots adjacent to your home or outbuildings that won’t support permanent grass cover no matter how often they’re fertilized or watered. If you have a backyard pool that’s already surrounded by tile, consider running a broad tile walkway to your back door or patio to further reduce your grassy lawn’s surface area.

Regal Hillside Patio by Mark Scott Associates

Tiles and paving stones come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. You’ll want to choose an arrangement that compliments the color and architectural style of your house, but practical considerations must come into play as well. In warm, sunny climates, use light-colored tiles that reflect heat well; in colder locales, use darker tiles that hold in heat on cool nights and double as de-icing aids in the winter.

If you are on a tighter budget, you could just use cement for a portion of your yard, which also can work well as a kids play area and is fairly easy to install. If you have a larger budget, sport courts can be a real bonus to have at your home. Contact your local landscape architect to see what options are available for you.

This post was provided by John Russell on behalf of a yard service company in Seattle helping to meet the full range of landscape maintenance needs.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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