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14 Landscape Ideas Where Grass Won’t Grow (With Pictures)


Patchy lawns can be some of the trickiest challenges for DIY landscapers, especially when you feel like you’ve tried planting everything possible. When the traditional route of filling the area with greenery isn’t going to plan, it takes a little out-of-the-box thinking to find satisfaction.

Fortunately, a dead lawn isn’t a dead end. To help you fill the void and complete a gorgeous backyard from end to end, we’ll explore landscape ideas where grass won’t grow.

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The 14 Landscape Ideas Where Grass Won’t Grow

1. Fountain

Beautiful fountain in a garden
Image Credit: Andy Choinski, Shutterstock

A fountain is a perfect cover for a bare patch of grass in the middle of the lawn. You can build an area around the fountain if the spot is slightly off-center in the yard. Expanding the base with pavers and other decorative hardscaping elements will cover the grassless area and allow you to position your fountain exactly where you need to balance the space.

2. Dry Garden

Japanese rock garden
Image Credit: Pushba, Shutterstock

Whether you call it a Japanese rock garden, Zen garden, or dry garden, the many names all refer to a tranquil backyard addition that makes for a supremely relaxing space. Raked gravel fills the area, with random large rocks adding form to the interior space and a clearly defined edge transitioning to the live lawn and garden section.

A Zen garden is an easy answer to a dead lawn because it can take any organic shape you need. Plant lush shrubs around the edge to integrate it smoothly into the rest of the yard.

3. Fake Turf

Artificial green grass for landscaping
_Image Credit: red mango, Shutterstock

The look may not be flawless, but fake turf may make a sensible addition to the lawn, especially in sections isolated from the rest of the yard. Phony grass can also be sensible if the area is mostly dead.

Laying a fake lawn often requires you to kill the existing vegetation and grade and level the area. Extensive spans can take considerable work to create a solid foundation and set down an even turf layer. But with a well-planned, precise approach, you’ll have a durable, lush patch of low-maintenance turf to enjoy for years.

4. Fire Pit

wood logs burning in stone fire pit
Image Credit: John M. Chase, Shutterstock

A fire pit brings coziness and function to the backyard, adding layers that allow you to enjoy the outdoors deeper into the evening. An area where grass won’t grow is perfect for a fiery feature to entertain family and friends with late-night conversations and roasted marshmallows. While it doesn’t have to be the lawn’s focal feature, you must play it safe by keeping it away from the house and overhanging vegetation.

Fire pits can be exhaustive gas-powered integrations into existing hardscaping, but effective designs don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Digging a pit and lining it with pavers is a hassle-free and fast way to upgrade your backyard and eliminate a useless dead spot.

5. Pond

Decorative pondwith fountain
Image Credit: Byjeng, Shutterstock

A pond can be another daunting undertaking, depending on the size of the dead lawn area. But the endless array of available organic shapes may make it a fitting solution for a large and awkward section where grass doesn’t grow. While the installation and upkeep can be demanding, an elegant running water feature makes for a relaxing backyard escape.

6. Footpath

Decorative garden with stone pathway
Image Credit: AVN Photo Lab, Shutterstock

Everyday use and established habits can cut clear swaths of grassless earth around your yard. If your kids have already beaten a path to the trampoline or pool, a gravel, stone, or paver walkway will class up the route around the yard. As a bonus, paved walkways help keep muddy shoes out of the house by relieving you of that ugly dirt stretch.

7. Raised Garden Beds

Backyard metal container garden
Image Credit: Fellers Photography, Shutterstock

You can still grow thriving plants even if the ground below them isn’t fertile. Save space in your yard without sacrificing utility by building raised planters atop the areas on the lawn where grass can’t grow.

A custom-built planter is a relatively straightforward DIY project to fill a Saturday afternoon. If you want to go a quicker route, arranging potted plants will make the area easier to cover and manage throughout the year.

8. Groundcover

Flowering ground cover on alpine hill
Image Credit: Helen Liam, Shutterstock

Groundcovers are attractive, natural, and often low-maintenance lawn features. Low-growing plants like creeping thyme, moss, and monkey grass can handle diverse growing conditions that may not suit grass. With their gorgeous looks and no need for mowing, you may find groundcovers a more appealing solution across most of your lawn.

9. Retaining Wall

Natural stone retaining wall
Image Credit: Joanne Dale, Shutterstock

A retaining wall is a fashionable way to add stability and usable space to the land. Grassless patches on inclines can gain new life with a supportive structure. Alongside the added landscaping opportunity, retaining walls offer a smart way to prevent erosion and redirect water to avoid damaging runoff.

10. Patio

Flagstone patio and backyard
Image Credit: Paul Maguire, Shutterstock

Patios instantly transform your lawn into a summer entertaining space ready for game nights and backyard barbecues. Whether it’s off to the side or against the house, a stone or brick landing is a top choice to fill an expansive swath of grassless area. Though it can be expensive to get perfect, a patio will add years of attractive, low-maintenance function to your yard.

11. Gazebo

Outdoor wooden gazebo
Image Credit: Alina G, Shutterstock

A gazebo could be a favorable alternative to a patio due to its easy setup. With a shady cover, a gazebo makes a practical solution for that awkward bare patch in the sunniest part of the lawn. Add one to your yard for a comfortable hangout to use at all hours of the day.

12. Mulch

New lawn and garden mulch
Image Credit: Ingrid Balabanova, Shutterstock

Organic mulch like pine bark or cedar chips are a colorful, rustic alternative to grass, providing a handsome highlight for plants that can grow among it. It’s inexpensive and easy to spread, with many types often lasting for years. You can also go the inorganic route with non-biodegradable rubber mulch. It’s an ideal filler for a small child’s outdoor play area.

13.  Rocks

Landscaping with river rock as accent
Image Credit: Jasmine Sahin, Shutterstock

A flowing, creative rock garden isn’t a complex undertaking, but it can have a profound effect on a garden. Adding mulch, water features, flowers, and greenery around your rock features will create intriguing textures and patterns in a low-maintenance landscaping feature. Rocks come in all shapes, sizes, and colors to craft a gorgeous custom look.

14. Shed

Bright red tool shed
Image Credit: klikkipetra, Shutterstock

A well-placed and properly sized shed will solve all your storage woes, keeping your basement and garage clean and your backyard equipment conveniently organized.

Pre-built sheds are available from several suppliers, many of which aren’t overly expensive. But you can also turn the shed into a test of your DIY skills and try to build it from scratch. You’ll find all kinds of free shed plans online. Customizing them to suit the area where grass doesn’t grow often only takes a few simple adjustments to pre-existing blueprints.

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Managing lifeless areas around the lawn doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming, or expensive. With creativity and a positive outlook, they will only be minor hiccups in an overall stellar backyard design, and you may even find the results to be better than you could have ever dreamed. Consider your space and these inspiring landscaping options to find the perfect solutions wherever grass won’t grow.

Featured Image Credit: emilymatych, Pixabay


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