Cheap no-grass backyard ideas: 9 low-maintenance looks for your space

Cheap no-grass backyard ideas: 9 low-maintenance looks for your space

These cheap no-grass backyard ideas are just what you need if you're after an affordable makeover that requires minimal upkeep.

Although growing grass from seed is a relatively quick and budget-friendly approach to cover a yard, it does have its drawbacks. For starters, there's a lot of work involved to keep it looking lush and green, from mowing and feeding to scarifying and aerating. 

You'll need somewhere to keep your mower too, and for smaller plots, this can be tricky. Lawns don't like shade either, so if your garden is lacking in plenty of sun, odds are you'll be fighting a losing battle to keep it looking tip-top. And if you're working with a paved courtyard, the preparation process of digging it up and preparing the soil for turf is long-winded, to say the least.

Luckily, there are plenty of backyard ideas that make great alternatives to grass, and won't cost you a fortune. We've rounded up some of our favorite approaches to help you get inspired. 

From gorgeous gravel to perfect paving, there's something for everyone in our round-up of cheap no-grass backyard ideas. 

By Holly Crossley 

(Joanne Dale/Alamy Stock Photo)
1. Create a woodland vibe with winding paths

A winding path of stepping stones leading the way to a tucked-away seating spot is easy to create and will give any plot an enchanting feel. Use reclaimed pavers, bricks, or even logs to keep costs down. 

Surround with budget-friendly gravel or wood chippings in a contrasting color, planted up with pockets of lush foliage. These mounds of hostas create a cooling, jungle-like vibe and will thrive in the shade. Add a couple of containers too as a finishing touch. You can switch them up with seasonal blooms throughout the year.

(Thomas Fricke/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images)
2. Go for gravel

When it comes to backyard landscaping, you really can't go far wrong with gravel. It's cheap, it's super easy to install, and it requires hardly any maintenance at all.

It's also great at absorbing rainwater, so can help prevent your yard from flash floods. Use it for paths, instead of paving for a patio, or to cover great sweeps of ground as seen here. Adding edging to the borders will stop stones from going astray.

Add drought tolerant plants and shrubs directly into it for extra visual interest and color and perhaps add a larger rock here and there for a naturalistic feel.

(Gino Rigucci/Alamy Stock Photo)
3. Pave a beautiful patio

If you've seen our backyard patio ideas, you'll know that this is a winning approach when it comes to transforming a yard. And, there are lots of different types of pavers to choose from, with plenty of choice for smaller budgets.

Paving offers a smart and stable base for all your garden furniture, so it's a brilliant option if you love to entertain outdoors. Keep the scheme simple with a comfy corner sofa and coffee table, or to really ramp up the cozy factor, bring in a fire pit.

Beautiful flowerbeds can be positioned to break up zones. Stick to a tonal palette for a harmonious look or embrace a riot of color – whichever suits you best.

(Joanne Dale/Alamy Stock Photo)
4. Add a relaxing water feature

Whether you go for a gently meandering waterfall or an elegant backyard pond, these features will undoubtedly bring soothing, sensory benefits to your plot.

They don't have to cost a ton either, especially if you build them yourself. If you've got the space, you can dig them straight into the ground and add a liner. Use plenty of pebbles and plants on either side for an organic feel.

Alternatively, if space is at a premium, you can create a smaller display with a large container. Add a pump and you can enjoy the trickling sounds too as you relax nearby.

(Ellen Isaacs/Alamy Stock Photo)
5. Keep it simple with bark chippings

Bark chippings are a great landscaping material if you're on a budget. You can buy them in bags from garden centers and DIY stores, but it may be worth checking with your local tree surgeon or on online marketplaces for even better bargains.

They can be used as a path or as a more natural alternative to paving – pop some landscaping fabric down first to combat the weeds. And don't forget that bark chippings also make a great organic mulch for your flowerbeds.

Just remember that they will need topping up now and again. Unlike gravel, they will start to break down over time.

(Joe Hendrickson/Alamy Stock Photo)
6. Pick click-together flooring

Working with a small plot? You'll definitely need some cheap no-grass backyard ideas to avoid the hassle of maintaining a tiny patch of turf.

These click-together decking tiles are an ingenious solution for a quick update. They'll instantly pep up an old, lacklustre patio, bare stretch of concrete, or even a balcony. And the best part is, you can take them with you should you move house, so they're a great option for rentals.

Pair with a brightly-colored bistro, some cute lanterns, and pots full of flowers, herbs and veg for an outdoor living scene that feels fresh, modern and fun.

7. Pep up the space with a patterned rug

One of the best outdoor rugs can also come in handy if you're looking for affordable and low-fuss ways to cover boring paving or concrete. There are loads of colors and patterns out there, so it's also a brilliant way to solidify your garden theme and add personality.

They'll add an extra layer of cozy comfort underfoot too. Pop in the center of your outdoor seating area for a living-room vibe.

(Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/Alamy Stock Photo)
8. Invest in a sturdy deck

Decking makes a modern and practical choice for outdoor living zones. And, if you go for long-lasting composite versions, they're low-maintenance, too.

They might be a bit more expensive than other ground covers, but it's worth the investment. And some products also do their bit for the environment. For instance, Composite Prime's decking is made by combining a waste product of hardwood production with recycled plastic. Each square meter contains the equivalent of more than 3,000 plastic bottle caps or 280 plastic bottles.

'Making sustainable choices when it comes to developing and designing gardens is crucial to combat the growing crisis around waste products,' says Charles Taylor, director at Composite Prime. 'As a result, environmentally-friendly garden design is growing in popularity, with homeowners opting for composite decking as a more durable, low-maintenance and sustainable alternative to traditional timber.'

(Mabo/Alamy Stock Photo)
9. Go for easy-care artificial turf

If you've felt inspired by our lawn and are eager for a stretch of green in your space, then there's always artificial turf.

'Artificial grass is growing in popularity as a low-maintenance investment in an ever-green garden,' says Adrian Buttress, managing director of PermaLawn. 'It's a smart, convenient, and aesthetically pleasing alternative for homeowners who want a lawn that's hassle-free and always looks freshly cut.

'But, it's important to invest in a quality product upfront to ensure the lawn's longevity,' he adds.


These cheap no-grass backyard ideas prove that you don't need turf to transform your garden on a budget