Replace Your Grass With Pavers + Artificial Turf {Expand Your Outdoor Living Space}

Outdoor Living Room

Expansive, natural grass lawns are so last century; today’s backyards are built for outdoor living, and that means usable spaces with groundcovers that are better-suited to heavier traffic and al fresco entertaining.

Here in Southern California, we have the luxury of sunny days and warm weather that allow for outdoor living throughout the year, but there are still too many backyards that lack the basic infrastructure required to support the fresh-air lifestyle so many of us crave.

Homeowners who are fortunate enough to enjoy a climate that allows for backyard grilling on Christmas Day are in the coveted position of being able to significantly expand their home’s living space by creating entire rooms outdoors or taking hobbies to the backyard, instead of taking up valuable space in the garage.

The problem is that most homeowners who purchase a home that is not a new build move into a property that has well-established lawns in both the front yard and backyard.

This brings with it the need for weekly mowing, regular watering, edging, aerating, weeding and all of those other time-consuming tasks that are required to keep a natural grass lawn looking its best.

Even after months of insane water bills and hours of yard work that could have been better spent on more enjoyable pursuits, many homeowners resist the urge to rip out that lawn and replace it with something that better fits their lifestyle and could decrease the time and money they spend on their yards each month.

After all, every house needs a lawn – right?

Not necessarily.

In fact, even a quick online search for current trends in landscape design will bring up plenty of evidence that today’s homeowners are moving away from conventional lawns and towards landscaping features and groundcovers that are lower maintenance and better suited for actually using a home’s outdoor spaces.

This movement towards functional exterior spaces designed for entertaining and everyday living is driven by our busier lifestyles, an increased desire to more fully enjoy our spare time and a greater appreciation of creating personal spaces that are focused on meeting our needs, instead of just giving off the right impression to our neighbors.

replace grass with pavers

Sure, we still want to keep up with the Joneses, which used to require a perfectly manicured, lush lawn, but natural grass does not have the same power to show socio-economic status as it did in the 1900s.

Sure, we still want to keep up with the Joneses, which used to require a perfectly manicured, lush lawn, but natural grass does not have the same power to show socio-economic status as it did in the 1900s.

Today, the amount of water you are wasting or your home’s impact on the environment is more likely to be the first thing that comes to mind when a guest arrives to find an expanse of natural grass separating your home from the rest of the world.

And it is more often the homes with elaborate walkways, paving stone driveways, and well-designed, grassless front yards that become the envy of neighbors.

When someone steps out through the stunning French doors that lead to your back patio, it will be the amazing water feature, elegant outdoor fireplace, fashionable fire pit or outstanding pool design that will catch their eye – not a perfectly mowed patch of natural grass that is mostly used as a bathroom for your pet or a play area for your kids.

It is the stone sitting wall that curves around your patio featuring an intricate pattern of pavers or the meandering walkways leading to themed gardens scattered throughout the grounds that are the truly impressive features in any backyard.

Whether you want to be the envy of your neighbors or just want to expand your living area to include functional outdoor spaces, one of the best things you can do is get rid of your grass and create a backyard paradise you can actually use.

Why Get Rid of Your Grass?

This isn’t really an anti-grass article; natural grass certainly has its place and can serve a purpose.

It is a popular choice for parents and pet owners who want outdoor areas for their little ones to run and play, or for their dogs to roll, wrestle and use the restroom.

Conventional grass provides a pretty good surface for these activities, but it does come with its own problems, such as bacterial buildup, brown spots, tripping hazards and higher maintenance requirements than other options.

It is understandable that some homeowners will want at least a small patch of grass for their kids or pets, but there are alternatives that can provide a safer, lower-maintenance groundcover for areas frequented by your loved ones.

While there are many grass alternatives available, artificial turf is one that is definitely worth mentioning.

replace grass with artificial turf

Synthetic grass allows homeowners who want to include grass in their landscape design to do so with the benefits of a natural grass lawn, but without the downfalls.

When you choose manufactured grass, you get the lush, green, soft lawn that you want without the water bills, hours spent mowing and weeding, toxic chemicals to keep away weeds and pests, or monthly costs of having a landscaping company complete the maintenance tasks for you.

You get a level, safer surface on which your kids can play and easy cleanup in areas used by your pets.

After all, the point of this article is to help you create outdoor living spaces that your entire family can use, and your pets and children are certainly part of the family.

This means that a synthetic turf lawn could very well be part of an overall landscape design meant to create more usable outdoor spaces.

If you happen to want your expanded living space to include a putting green or a lawn bowling green, artificial grass is also the best choice for these functional spaces.

Just keep in mind that the more you limit the space you dedicate to a lawn of any kind, the more space you will have to install a swimming pool, build a greenhouse, increase your outdoor storage, create patios for outdoor entertaining or finally put in that horseshoe pit you have always wanted.

Expanding Your Living Space Without Adding On to Your House

Home additions are expensive, require costly permits and encroach upon your yard, making them a less-than-ideal option for many homeowners.

Fortunately, those who live in Southern California can easily expand their usable living space by simply installing a patio or creating entire rooms outdoors.

You can cook outside, dine outside, entertain outside and even sleep outside, if you create functional spaces that allow for al fresco activities.

The simplest way to do this is to remove some or all of your existing lawn, and replace it with a traffic-friendly hardscape option, such as brick, paving stones, composite decking or wood.

There are plenty of online tutorials that can help handy homeowners install a patio or build a deck, or you can enlist the help of professionals to help ensure a satisfactory end product with fewer headaches along the way.

If you happen to have a larger yard, you may even want to consider installing multiple decks or patios that can serve different purposes.

For example, you may want one patio directly off your indoor kitchen that is dedicated to your outdoor kitchen, built-in barbecue or al fresco dining room.

This allows for easy indoor-outdoor entertaining and is a great place to start when expanding your outdoor living areas.

You may also want a separate deck or patio around your pool for poolside entertaining, or a paving stone patio with a central fire pit for nights spent outside stargazing or roasting marshmallows with your kids.

Creating multiple seating areas scattered throughout your yard is an ideal landscape design for anyone who entertains large groups or has frequent social gatherings, while also providing an abundance of options for family members to slip away some quiet time with a good book or their morning coffee.

Screened patios are particularly nice backyard improvements for homeowners who enjoy spending a lot of time outside or frequently dining outdoors, since this is a great way to keep bugs at bay and provide some protection from the elements.

A screened porch or patio also usually feels more like an extension of your indoor living space, since it feels more like a true room.

A similar effect can be achieved by adding patio curtains that can be closed to block the sun or create a more intimate atmosphere for outdoor dinner parties.

How a Paving Stone Paradise Can Transform Your Backyard

Paving stones are not the only hardscape option available that will help you expand your living area by utilizing exterior space; however, they are often preferred for this purpose because of their durability and visual appeal.

Because pavers are installed in a zipper-like fashion, they are much easier to replace than most options in the rare event that damage occurs.

They also offer a slip-resistant surface, which makes them an ideal choice around swimming pools, and are easy to clean and maintain.

But, above all, they bring an elegant, upscale look to any backyard, which can instantly transform a lackluster landscape design into a visually appealing backyard oasis.

When properly installed paver patios and walkways are paired with attractive groundcover options, stone sitting walls, water features or well-kept flowerbeds, in is almost inevitable that the resulting environment will provide the perfect backdrop for everyday outdoor living, as well as outdoor entertaining.

Paving stones provide an ideal foundation for outdoor kitchens, an attractive floor for al fresco dining rooms and a durable option for areas where heavy traffic is expected.

Walkways leading to a hot tub, a meditation garden, a garden shed or a gazebo are far more attractive when they are made from decorative pavers.

While some patio trends eventually fall out of fashion, the attractive look of paving stones is sure to keep this upscale option in style well into the future, making decorative pavers the type of home improvement investment that is well worth making.

It should also be noted that paving stones are the longest-lasting available option for driveways, walkways, pool decks and patios.

Prime example of why you don't want to go with concrete

While concrete will age and crack, asphalt will need resurfacing, gravel will work into the soil and need to be replaced and bricks are far more fragile than most people think, pavers will stand up to the test of time and continue to look beautiful.

Additionally, paving stones may actually be less expensive than you think, depending on the type of stones, the manufacturer of the stones and the installation company you choose.

If you want to create truly functional spaces that are also durable and attractive, pavers should be at the top of your list for hardscape options to use in your landscaping design.

replace real grass with paving stones

Final Thoughts on Getting Rid of Your Grass

Many homeowners think they have to have a lawn to greet their guests in their front yard and take up most of the space in their backyard.

Why do they think this?

Mostly, because this is simply what they are used to.

Most of us grew up with grass surrounding our homes and recall spending weekends as a kid helping our dads pull weeds while he mowed the lawn into a perfect pattern.

When we drive through most neighborhoods of single-family homes, we still see cookie-cutter lawns right next to cookie-cutter driveways, which keeps us thinking that grass is what most people want and, therefore, is what we are supposed to want.

But it is not that most people want grass; most people want usable outdoor living spaces, they just are not sure how to create them.

Thankfully, lots of helpful online resources and home improvement centers are helping homeowners expand their options by showing them all of the useful things they can do with their yards if they simply limit the size of their lawns.

The growing popularity of grass alternatives and the trend towards larger patios that can accommodate entire outdoor rooms is evidence that today’s homeowner wants more from their yard, and that they are not afraid to cut out a little grass to get it.

Photo Credits (in order of appearance): stock.xchng, kellyeld;, xfoto;, jlpeterson;, beglib;, dhester.