Pain in the Grass: Why You Should Rip Up Your Yard—and What to Do Instead
Between our desire for a more sustainable lifestyle and our increasingly busy schedules that don’t leave tons of time or energy to fuss over grass, lawn substitutes have become a very hot topic. And let’s not forget about the cost involved: Mowing with gas-powered equipment, watering, fertilizing, and preventing pests add up fast—and hiring landscape pros to take the work off your hands is even pricier.
Think you’re ready to ditch the golf course–like green carpet? We’re here to tell you why it could save you money—and look even more luxurious than a manicured lawn.
Ripping out your grass can lure buyers
Gone are the days of needing a lush, green yard to attract buyers. In fact, properties that feature alternatives to grass are a draw in and of themselves—especially in warm, dry climates. A maintenance-free yard is one way, too, to attract millennial buyers.
You could get paid for getting rid of your grass
In many cities—especially ones in hot climates—homeowners can get paid to dig up their lawns. There are stipulations with these rebates: the replacement plants must be drought-tolerant, and you must plant a certain number per square foot and install drip irrigation along with some kind of rain harvesting – whether it’s a rain barrel, a bioswale, or a rain garden.
What to do with your outdoor space instead
Before you rip out anything, be sure to check local regulations, especially if you live in a community with a homeowners association. It might not allow for your grassless grand plans.
If you’re good to go, then you need to think about what you want your outdoor space to be. Maybe invest in an outdoor kitchen, an in-ground fire pit, or a large entertaining space for family and friends. If you have pets, then consider dedicating a fenced-in area for them. Have a houseful of athletic kids? You can get a concrete court poured, where the family can shoot baskets. Once you have your outdoor spaces’ next incarnation figured out, it’s time to tackle the lawn.
Decide whether to DIY or call in a pro
If it seems daunting to convert your grass lawn into something else, that’s because it is. If you’re dubious about your DIY talents, don’t hesitate to call in a pro. It’ll run you about $1,000 to $2,000 to remove your lawn.
You could also try solarization, which involves covering the lawn with heavy plastic so the summer sun “cooks” the grass until it dies. This process takes several weeks, however, and is not always 100% effective against certain grass species. You can also smother the grass with sheet mulching, which can include cardboard, nonglossy newspaper, grass clipping, and painter’s paper, suggests Frey.
Tips for setting up a dreamy outdoor oasis
The ultimate no-fuss yard should include mostly hardscaping—patios crafted with stamped concrete, a full kitchen, or a more budget-friendly built-in barbecue. A simple fire pit made of rocks or paving stones with seating around it is also a charming addition.
Add a gazebo, pergola, or oversize umbrellas to your outdoor space for a shady spot to unwind. A play structure with swings, slides, and climbing areas, surrounded by mulch, is ideal for families with kids. You can also create a gorgeous focal point in your space with a rock garden, using different sizes, textures, and colors of stones requiring zero water or maintenance.
Walkways will add interest and definition
Use the space where your grass was to lay down walkways, which will create visual interest. Try paths with pavers set in sand, or lay down large flagstone stepping stones with 2-inch spaces in between and plant herbs such as thyme in those spots for a pop of good-smelling greenery.
For low-budget walkways, lay down gravel, which deters weeds and comes in various sizes and colors. Or, you can use bark, wood chips, or mulch.
Article originally appeared on Realtor.com.