Sage Outdoor Designs » landscape design

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I want to remove my lawn, now what?

You want to take out your lawn to save water, but when you sit back and look at your front yard, you can’t even begin to think of what could go in to replace it. Now what? You know you certainly don’t want gravel, like they did in the 70’s….

Here are a few ideas for how to think of a lawnless yard design:

A good place to start is with foundation plantings. They can be expanded in width and include ground covers, xeriscape plantings, perennial flower beds, and tiered shrub plantings. Layering gives a design a lot of depth, but it also has the side benefit of taking up a lot of space. Start with a shrub that is 3′ tall and wide. In front of that, place a smaller shrub, say 2′ tall and wide. In front of that try some perennials that are 1′ tall and 2′ wide. In front of that, a low groundcover could easily take up 2′. This simple planting scheme just took up almost 10′ of width!

It doesn’t tend to look very nice if you just switch lawn for groundcover, so these are a great option if you think of them as part of a graden design, not the whole design!

These are plants which spread across the ground but do not grow tall, so no cutting is required. Areas planted in groundcover need little to no maintenance.
– many varieties are available, including flowering groundcovers which offer color and add emphasis to the seasons.
– during the first year, new plantings of groundcover will require weeding and mulching, but once established, little care is needed.
– groundcovers usually need an edge barrier to contain them.
– not as durable as grass for high traffic areas.

The most common method for reducing lawn size is to replace the turf with beds of perennial shrubs, often bordered with flowers.
– give seasonal color and texture to the landscape.
have few serious insect or disease problems.
– tolerate difficult growing conditions better than most ornamentals.
– many grow rapidly and may require some yearly pruning. Pruning is done just after the shrub flowers, regardless of the time of year.

Patios and Pathways:
Patios and pathways are a wonderful way to use space in a garden. Just by adding a 4′ wide path to the scheme we discussed above and repeating the scheme on the far side will take up almost 25′ of width from your garden. This is as much space as many urban and suburban homes have between the street and the house!

Want your own amazing San Diego landscape design? Please go to and fill in the contact us form. Sage Outdoor Designs is a San Diego landscape design firm. Our Principal, Kate Wiseman, has been a San Diego landscape designer for the past ten years- ask how she can help transform your garden into the one you always wanted.

Sage Outdoor Designs is a San Diego landscape design firm. Kate
Wiseman, the Principal, has been a San Diego landscape designer
for the past ten years. Find out more at