Going Greenless

By Jeanelle Horcasitas

March 6, 2015 6 min read

For some reason, what is considered to be a beautiful yard always seems to be an area full of lush and verdant grass. But for those of us living in drought-stricken states such as California, keeping up a lawn has become a disappointing endeavor. Sadly, the once vibrant blades of grass have become a dried yellow and brown fire hazard.

But little or no grass in your yard is no reason to fret. In fact, without grass, you have more opportunities to be creative with the space you have -- not to mention a major cost and labor savings on lawn upkeep and care. However, if you're feeling uninspired or uncertain about what you could do to create an outdoor paradise, here are a few ideas that we hope will motivate you to ditch the grass for something new!

*The Desert Oasis

Deserts are seriously misunderstood. They're typically depicted as a dry, mirage-inducing environment filled with dangerous predators, such as snakes and coyotes, and unbearable heat or freezing temperatures. But these stereotypes belong to real deserts, not the kind we have in mind.

So, what does the desert oasis entail? Well, you can start with some beautiful succulents. According to About.com's Jon VanZile, "succulents store water in their leaves, their stems or their roots. These plants have adapted to survive arid conditions throughout the world, from Africa to the deserts of North America." Therefore, these plants are virtually indestructible, which is an extremely big advantage for anyone lacking a green thumb.

Another desert favorite is the cactus. There are a variety of cactuses to choose from, but some of the most beautiful are the ones that grow flowers (or even fruit), such as: the Mojave mound cactus, the beavertail cactus or the prickly pear cactus (yum!). If you are interested in exploring the countless possibilities for your desert vegetation, check out http://www.desertusa.com.

Now, the choice is up to you when it comes to arranging your plants. You could place them in a large plastic or ceramic pot or planter's box, or plant them directly in the ground. If you decide to plant them as opposed to potting them, surround the plants with rocks for another touch of the desert. However, depending on the number of pots or planter's boxes, you also could surround those with rocks. Larger rocks tend to look best around pots and planter's boxes, while smaller pebble rocks look better surrounding plants in the ground because they emphasize the size of the plant. Finally, tie the ambience together by adding some mood lighting. Whether it's a lighted path or a string of lights, the choice is entirely yours!

As you can see, cactuses and other gorgeous desert plants easily can replace a nice green lawn. So sit back, sip something cool and enjoy your very own desert oasis.

*The Zen Paradise

Feeling a little stressed? Wouldn't it be nice to come home to a beautiful Zen paradise after work? Once again, you don't need to rely on square footages of grass to make your yard beautiful.

First, a Zen paradise would be nothing without the sound of trickling water. There is a range of fountain styles to choose from, and they can almost always be found at any home improvement or gardening store. However, depending on the size you would like, the fountain could get a bit pricey, so I would suggest checking out some of the deals on eBay or Amazon.com.

Additionally, if you're trying to practice being more mindful, having an area dedicated to meditation and relaxation is another must-have for your Zen paradise. If you're into DIY or handy with tools, a platform deck could be a wonderful feature to your Zen paradise. There is also a Platform Deck Retreat available for purchase at Lowe's. Whichever you choose, this space will be a great spot for you to lie down on your yoga mat, breathe, stretch, and relax your mind, body and soul!

If you require more by the way of sound than just the water from the fountain, chimes are a must. Chimes come in many different varieties and sounds, so it should be easy to find one that truly fits your personality and fulfills your vision. You can find chimes at Home Depot, Lowe's or even www.chimes.com for more of a selection!

Of course, adding a touch of color will truly bring the atmosphere to life. Mosaic stepping-stones are great to define your walking path, or use mosaic tiles to create the path that you follow to your place of meditation. These items can also be purchased at your local Home Depot or Lowe's. However, the Better Homes and Gardens website also offers great DIY projects to create your very own tile stepping-stones.

Finally, don't forget the Bonsai tree. There is a large selection to choose from at www.bonsaioutlet.com. And with that, your Zen paradise is complete, and you will be able to enjoy your days after work finding peace and harmony in your special space.

Decorating an environment with little or no grass can feel like a nuisance at first, but hopefully these ideas will inspire you to create your own unique space. Contrary to the old adage, it is not always greener on the other side. In fact, it can actually be even greater without all the green. So try something new, and enjoy your very own slice of paradise!

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