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18 patio gardens that prove you don't need a lawn

Homify logo Homify 16/2/2017 April Kennedy

There are lots of alternative ways to make a little urban oasis, even if you don't have the time or means to create a conventional lawn. The fact is that perfect green lawns are quite difficult to grow well and they aren't really suitable for many outdoor entertaining areas and gardens. If you don't have adequate drainage, the grass can get muddy and if you don't have enough sun, the lawn is likely to look patchy.

So how can you create a great beautiful patio or garden without a patch of grass in sight? Well, the answer is surprisingly easy. So let's check out some of the most stylish and easiest ways to design a good urban garden. We bet there's something perfect for your home!

1. Multi-tiered garden

homify / Deck-linéa: modern Garden by Deck-linéa © homify / Deck-linéa modern Garden by Deck-linéa

An urban garden will look very bare without some variation, so it often helps to build up with a tiered garden. The varying heights of the plants will add that all-important jungly look to your outdoor space. Just use stones for drainage.

2. Round stepping stones and a miniature Japanese garden

homify / 新美園: eclectic Garden by 新美園 © homify / 新美園 eclectic Garden by 新美園

Chinese and Japanese garden designers have made an art out of grassless garden designs. The secret lies in the variation of stone features. This little Japanese garden has round pavers and at least two different types of stone. A water feature is a good addition too.

3. A dark natural wood deck

homify / Pop Arq: minimalistic Garden by Pop Arq © homify / Pop Arq minimalistic Garden by Pop Arq

Wooden decking or flooring is an excellent choice for a patio because it infuses the outdoor area with that crucial natural feel. To amp it up, stain the wooden floor with a dark hue to bring out all the rich variation in the timber.

4. Stone pavers

homify / Cherry Mills Garden Design: eclectic Garden by Cherry Mills Garden Design © homify / Cherry Mills Garden Design eclectic Garden by Cherry Mills Garden Design

This little garden has white pavers in a variety of shapes and sizes. Combine that with white pebbles and some organically shaped furniture and you have an instant little oasis. This one is extremely easy to maintain.

5. A little poolside dream

It's all too easy to let your garden go to waste unless you have a very good reason to get out there. Good seating, a hammock and a cooling pool are a pretty good draw. This garden has just about everything.

6. A lush climbing plant

A grassless garden courtyard should never feel harsh or lacking in life. All you might need is a big sturdy plant. Something with climbing trails will definitely soften up the geometry of the space.

7. Climbing ivy

homify / Melian Randolph: modern Garden by Melian Randolph © homify / Melian Randolph modern Garden by Melian Randolph

Climbing ivy or a green living wall is a perfectly luxe alternative to a grassy lawn. This solution is perfect for those who have a small urban space and need to address the privacy issue. 

8. A suave modern white stone garden

Nature is full of curves, so you can very easily make your stone garden feel outdoorsy with a curvy stone garden design. Note how the undulating lines of the white stones here undulate around the space and work harmoniously with the curved white furniture. 

9. The perfect pot plants

homify / Earth Designs: modern Garden by Earth Designs © homify / Earth Designs modern Garden by Earth Designs

A series of impressively tall ceramic pots can create a dignified look. The secret is to create a trio of three and place them in a neat row. These ones have an earthy rustic colour that adds a lot to the terrace space too.

10. A green garden wall

Here we have another courtyard garden with an incredibly lush look. The garden wall makes this one feel a bit like a secret garden. Check out the great contrast between the ochre wall and the lush green foliage.

11. Long pylons

homify / PATXI CASTRO: eclectic Garden by PATXI CASTRO © homify / PATXI CASTRO eclectic Garden by PATXI CASTRO

One of the most important elements to consider is the main walkway. Inset pylons or slabs of wood can look great when teamed with black stone.

12. A mix of floor treatments

A timber deck is generally softer on the feet than a ceramic tile floor. But there's no reason not to combine the two. This one would be a great little outdoor yoga studio.

13. Huge trees and a wooden deck

homify / PORTO Arquitectura + Diseño de Interiores: eclectic Garden by PORTO Arquitectura + Diseño de Interiores © homify / PORTO Arquitectura + Diseño de Interiores eclectic Garden by PORTO Arquitectura + Diseño de Interiores

The canopy from some huge trees can provide shade and the greenery adds natural life to the courtyard. You can't really go wrong with a setup like this. This one will also draw the eye upwards and make the space feel big.

14. Hardy shrubs and white stones

homify / SUD[D]EN Gärten und Landschaften: modern Garden by SUD[D]EN Gärten und Landschaften © homify / SUD[D]EN Gärten und Landschaften modern Garden by SUD[D]EN Gärten und Landschaften

If your garden area receives harsh sunlight, then your garden will need to be super hardy. Sturdy shrubs are often a good idea and they can be lined up to create a very green effect like this.

15. A stone pathway

homify / eDEN Garden Rooms Ltd: modern Garden by eDEN Garden Rooms Ltd © homify / eDEN Garden Rooms Ltd modern Garden by eDEN Garden Rooms Ltd

If you have a natural timber exterior, then you could get away with an extremely minimalist Japanese Zen garden like this. The pavers have a slightly scattered look and the overall effect is totally calming.

16. A stone garden

homify / Earth Designs: modern Garden by Earth Designs © homify / Earth Designs modern Garden by Earth Designs

This dry garden is small and beautifully realised. There is an excellent variety of floor materials and a few lively plants. The secret of this tiny little garden lies in the variety of natural features of a similar hue.

17. Tall palms on the perimeter

This courtyard garden feels so lush and green it would be easy to overlook the fact that it doesn't have a patch of grass in sight. The green wall and towering palms make it feel a bit like jungly. This one really shows the enormous benefits of using a professional landscape designer.

18. A Japanese courtyard

For our final example, we have a perfectly simple Japanese courtyard garden. It has just a single tree, but this one element totally defines the space.

For more garden inspiration, have a look at 25 fence and wall ideas to make your house more stylish.

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