Vegetable or herb gardens
Converting your lawn into arable garden beds for vegetables means not only less mowing, but less money spent on groceries as well.
Lawns that get at least four hours of full sun per day are the best candidates for vegetable garden conversion, as veggies really need sunlight to thrive.
Once you’ve removed the lawn, you’ll need to enrich the soil for growing vegetables. Use a garden fork to aerate the dirt and break up any big clumps. This will help with drainage and allow you to remove any grass ‘runners’ (the thick grass roots that might still be alive in the deep soil) to prevent the lawn from trying to take hold again.
Add organic material like compost or manure to the soil and then give it all a good water. You’re now ready to plant your first homegrown crops – here's how to get started.
If you like the idea of turning your lawn into an edible landscape but aren’t ready for veggies, starting a herb garden is one option. Some herbs like creeping thyme and chamomile are particularly well suited as ground cover replacements for grass.
Yes! You can have your lawn and let it be native too! Australia has several native grass species that can be used for lawns, many which (like weeping grass) are just as plush to lounge on as their non-native counterparts.
The benefits of using a native grass species include reduced water usage (native grasses are adapted to Australia’s drier, drought-prone climate), less money spent on fertilizer, and potentially increased biodiversity with more insects attracted to the native plants.
Broaden your perception of mulch. Sure, it’s a great insulator for plants, but you can also extend it to act as a lawn alternative. Technically you could replace your entire lawn with mulch, but it works best in partnership with other features, such as creating wide mulched garden beds with interconnecting paths.
Mulch comes in many varieties with different aesthetic and practical uses as well, so it’s a versatile lawn replacement. Use organic mulches to create garden beds and to surround trees and shrubs, while inorganic mulches (like pebbles) are great for creating paths.
Pavers, paths and patios
Reduce the amount of lawn in your garden and increase your entertaining space. Installing pavers or a patio can break up large chunks of lawn while also providing outdoor spaces in which to place outdoor furniture settings, or even an outdoor kitchen.
One drawback of paving is that it increases water run off (unlike lawns, mulch and garden beds which reduce water run off). Be mindful of where you’re installing paving to reduce the possibility of water damage in your home, particularly if you live in a flood-prone area.
These lawns consist of a variety of grasses, shrubs and flowers (often native) that are sown together and allowed to grow freely, recreating a similar look and ecosystem to a meadow found in nature.
The appeal of meadow gardens is that they’re low maintenance, but more resilient and biodiverse than conventional low-maintenance plantings.
Although they’re not as common in Australia as they are in Europe and the United States, they are gaining traction. The Woody Meadow project is a collaboration between the University of Melbourne City of Melbourne council, the University of Sheffield and the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, that has been developing meadow lawns and gardens in sites across the city.
Those thinking about creating their own meadow garden can even access the project guidelines and planting lists as part of the project.
For those who want a conventional lawn with none of the mowing, there’s always the artificial option. While synthetic lawns are more expensive to install than normal turf, and only last up to 20 years, can you really put a price on convenience?
While they may look natural, some synthetic lawns can get quite hot during summer and often aren’t as soft as natural grass. They still require some maintenance and have environmental drawbacks – the man-made lawn doesn’t break down and removes food and habitat for insects and birds.
If you’re struggling to decide between fake and real grass, check out our full explainer of the pros and cons of artificial grass here.