No more lawn!

Ideas please for the front of a 1908 cottage. Grass is going. N.California, zone 9, drought stricken and west facing. Thinking of native grasses, shrubs and bark mulch. Want ideas to go with age of house. Thanks.
q no more lawn, curb appeal, gardening, landscape, lawn care
q no more lawn, curb appeal, gardening, landscape, lawn care
  112 answers
  • Debbie Debbie on Aug 16, 2015
    In south Louisiana, we, too, are losing our pretty lawns with little rain and temperatures over 100 degrees.My kalanchoes and aloe veras are doing great, though. I have pea gravel that looks nice under a tree in my garden area. Maybe you could do rock gardens with succulents or other plants native to your area.

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Aug 17, 2015
    I would start by restructuing the lines of the garden. I do not recommend grasses as they need alot of water, Research srought tollerant plants for your zone and proceed to a design.

  • Lola Lola on Aug 17, 2015
    Brick pavers in a courtyard design, plants can be in pots and switched out. You can also add a birdbath or statuary, maybe a swing.

  • Wanda.ll Wanda.ll on Aug 17, 2015
    well back in 1908 they didn't have grass yards at all. They hated grass it took a lot of work it had to be pulled out by the youngins.( they sweep the yards they had yep with a broom) So think like that no grass just plants that can withstand the heat. I know the lantana can grow like crazy, hens and chicks and zinnas,daylilies, roses and a few more. Just go to Better Homes and Garden website and design it your self and put in flowers for your area that demand less water and loads of afternoon sun.

  • GinaR GinaR on Aug 17, 2015
    I think pea pebbles or even river stones around the brick pavers in courtyard design would look great. In addition to potted plants, plant cactus and other succulent plants that do no require much water but can withstand heat. Also, could make an island with bird houses, wind chimes, bird feeder and bird bath.

  • Bonny McDaniel Bonny McDaniel on Aug 17, 2015
    I'm also in Paradise, CA! I live in lower Paradise where it is even hotter and drier and our front yard is mostly gravel driveway with some photinia hedge and other large plants which aren't suitable for your little cottage. It looks like you have a lot of shade so I'm not sure that many of the succulents and cacti would thrive. Also, I don't know how far up the 'hill' you you get much snow? I would go for some pavers next to the concrete walk and carry the river rock theme up to the foundation plantings and in some other areas. After you kill the grass or remove it, put some of the drought resistant grasses like Mexican feather grass or fountain grass in some of the areas. These are not lawn grasses but individual feature plants. I have a lot of zinnias in my garden as they withstand the heat and drought conditions...if you want summer color. Then calendulas and some potted mums for fall color will work. If you want to 'talk' about it some more...PM me on FB and we can get together.

  • Blair Blair on Aug 17, 2015
    Well as a fellow Californian, think natives and do a cottage type garden. Butterfly bush, Russian sage, blanket flowers, rudbeckia and hollyhocks do well. These are all in our front garden and do well with watering once a week even with temps in the 90's.

  • Kim Kilmer Kim Kilmer on Aug 17, 2015
    I would definitely lighten up the front of the home. It looks very dark from the pics and all the straight lines seem harsh. In the far corner where the arbor is, start a dry creek bed and swoop towards the front sidewalk. the tall bush next to the drive seems to throw the balance off as well. While the plants in the ground could be drought tolerant, perhaps some nice potted flowers that you can keep watered would brighten everything up.

  • Doreen Murphy-Lee Doreen Murphy-Lee on Aug 17, 2015
    New Mexico here: High temps + drought too. Forget the rocks. Too many people opt for rocks here but don't realize that rocks produce even more heat. Plant drought tolerant trees native to your area, so that they shade your house both in the back + front. Next create an island of green around your house about 4-5 feet, yes that's feet, of drought tolerant plants about 8 inches from your foundation. This will provide your home with a cooling effect in the heat + drought. Succulents are good for this, but will need protection if your temps drop below freezing, cover with burlap. You can research drought tolerant plants online for your zone + state. Also your local garden center or nursery will be a source of good info + resource on buying drought tolerant plants + trees. I'm not talking about the big box stores: WalMart,Home Depot, or Lowe's type of stores. They often don't stock enough of drought tolerant plants for a particular area. Now, here's how you plant: 1st layer: pumice stone - it will kep the moisture in the ground. 2nd Layer: mulch - also keeps the moisture in the ground. 3rd Layer: your soil - depends on what you need for your area. We have sand here so must use garden soil with compost. You may add mulch on top to keep the moisture in. Be sure your mulch doesn't have chemicals in it if you're using it for food. You may also consider raised garden beds if you're older + don't want to bend all the time. Can use reclaimed materials for these. Many good websites for ideas. You can also consider rain catchment for when you do get rain. This you can research online as well. Am a native NYer, have learned to live + garden here in NM for over 20 yrs. Killed far too many plants before I found what works. :)

  • Marsha Marsha on Aug 17, 2015
    I live in zone 9 CA, as well. I moved back to the old homestead to care for my mother. The lawn that my father who passed in 1993, had cared so much for was now dirt. I started watering to keep the dirt down and was surprised to see the old Bermuda grass was quickly popping up! That first summer the whole front yard recovered itself with nothing but a little water and sun (Bermuda grass loves hot sun) it's also the best drought tolerant. The tendrils of grass spread and plant themselves very quickly, this year I did the same with the west facing backyard and it too recovered after all those years without care. I now have to mow twice a week! If you love grass, Bermuda is great for our area.

  • Barbara Parsons Barbara Parsons on Aug 17, 2015
    Here in FL we have the opposite problem--everything gets a good soaking every afternoon during the week, thus mowing and weeding and feeding is a never ending issue. We resolved it by separating out big pieces of the front and planting trees surrounded by a native plant called lantana. All the ground space around the tree leading up to the shrubbery near the windows of the house is covered in red rock, and I added unusual natural colored pottery containers that I grow plants and veggies in for maximum use. For example, I planted lemon grass with geraniums and thyme, marigolds with kale and spring onions--you get the idea. And we are gradually putting in a lot of ground cover where and when we can. Spreading junipers make great borders along a walk way, a type of jasmine that creeps -- also any creeping plant, will gradually take over the grassy area and you can mow it about twice a year. Hope this helps.

  • Jilly Honeybourne Jilly Honeybourne on Aug 17, 2015
    I live in England, and although we're renowned for green fields and grass, I have quite a few trees which take up all the water. The lawn just died time after time, so I decided to get rid of it. The pictures might give you some ideas.... :)

  • Kristine Shalkowski Kristine Shalkowski on Aug 17, 2015
    Someone talked about the darkness of the home and I agree. Take a picture, go to one of those websites where you can envision a few different changes of color in the front of the home and I really believe better ideas will come to you. The house will become more of an attractive focus and probably you could think of rocks like in the front of the house with a few plants. Paint is a marvelous thing.

  • C C on Aug 17, 2015
    How about getting several cinder blocks and lay them on their sides(instead of upright) to use as a base foundation and place planks of reclaimed wood (or 2x4’s) on them to form a low decking over your lawn (after removing grass). Get some sand if you need to level any areas. On top and around the edge of the decking get (or build) square planter boxes that are high enough for seating. Lay 3 or 4 2x4’s on the edges of the planters to create bench seating between the planter boxes that are spaced about 6 feet apart. Add plants or more ivy to the inside of the planters (or even plant herbs or vegetables). Can also set cute solar lighting lanterns into the planters and add tall shepherd plant hooks on which you can hang a cute bird feeder or other plants (would look great on left side of front porch where the blank house wall is). Could set a bird bath in one of the planter boxes instead of plants. You could even cover the planter boxes with large ceramic floor tiles and skip the plants entirely. Build window boxes from the ground up on each side of the front steps – the boxes will be hollow (could even add a door and use for gardening storage) then you can create a shelf or tray to set a planter inside so only the top portion of the window boxes is used for dirt/planting for easy care ivy that will hang down over the whole window box. Many types of Ivy require little water and they are green year round with low/no maintenance, but other vines would work as well, even flowering ones (I love nasturtiums). Shallow planters depth will not need much watering and won’t soak into the ground. Hanging flowering plants that are seasonal from the porch rafters would create a nice look too and accent the wooden decking. Basically your front yard would be a wood decking enclosed with seating benches around the perimeter that are created from planter boxes and 2x4’s and the planter boxes are filled with plants, lights, or other outdoor decorations of your choice.You would leave an opening for your front entrance from the street, even adding an arbor if you choose. Plants in planter boxes create an easy garden look but use a lot less water, especially if there is a water reserve in the bottom of the planters, and the plants can be changed out easily enough. The planters hold the decking in place without needing to nail it down or you could nail an edging of 2x4 around the edge of the deck to give it a finished look and hold it altogether, even though it just sits on the cinder blocks. A placement of lattice paneling would look nice against the fence wall to the left. You could even build/add a wall fountain there and either use water(it’s recycled so it isn’t wasting water) or just put plants in it instead of water. You could also use low lattice panels attached sideways (lengthwise) to the outside edge of your decking/benches to create a low wall and give yourself a more enclosed yard. Or using few plant shepherd hooks in planter boxes around the perimeter would create an upper “wall” look around your deck without having any fencing. Your house is really cute but so dark. Painting the house a soft green and the porch trim, roof trim, front door, and steps a bright white would really enhance the charming look of the place. Add some kind of fun accent in black on a couple of the steps (like your house number or a welcome saying) or paint a thin black stripe across the top of each step for an bold accent against a white background. Add a colorful hanging decorating piece on the front door with inviting porch lights on each side of door. You would not only solve your grass replacement but would have a nice new look to your home and a pleasant place to sit outside. Sorry for the long post, I could see the whole look of it in my head and thought I would toss it out there!

  • DORLIS DORLIS on Aug 17, 2015
    Since you have drought conditions, consider native wild flowers to add color. Once they are established the first season, they require little care and watering because they are used to growing in dry conditions.

  • Laurie Laurie on Aug 17, 2015
    First I would paint the house maybe baby blue, orange or lime green. Think about what you do in your yard. Rubber mulch is good if small children play outside. Flat stone, pavers or gravel depending on your budget. Do you want a fire pit or a small water feature? These could be built in to the hardscape. Give us an idea of what you are leaning towards.

    • See 2 previous
    • Ginne Ginne on Aug 21, 2015
      @Laurie that would be good, I would still get rid of the lawn. The house needs some pop in color too. I think we agree. Would love to see what it looks like when it is done

  • Laurie Laurie on Aug 17, 2015
    The possibilities are endless.

  • Gwen Barham Loftus Gwen Barham Loftus on Aug 17, 2015
    I was recently in Lowe's and saw artificial grass. It looks very real. Not sure of the cost but your front yard is pretty small.

  • I would create some dimension by creating a few native shrubs on higher flower beds and a dry creek river rock bed. Succulents are also great options!

  • You have a wonderful rock garden going on the curbside- why not continue it to the lawn- adding native plants as mentioned by DORLIS. I'm in VT but grew up in the Bay Area- I'd send you some of OUR rain if I could!

  • Judy Judy on Aug 20, 2015
    Well...I'm a big fan of flowers. I would replace the sidewalk with a slightly winding one made of slate. And find drought tolerant perennials and turn the whole yard into an English garden? A bench and birdbath maybe. Arbor? Judy

  • Heliane Ripley Heliane Ripley on Aug 20, 2015
    Go native! Buy drought resisting plant which are adapted to your area. A trip to a nearby botanical garden should give you many ideas.

  • Diana Diana on Aug 20, 2015

  • Annie Medic Annie Medic on Aug 20, 2015
    Permaculture... almost identical house, BTW!

    • Mary Tonningsen Mary Tonningsen on Aug 23, 2015
      @Annie Medic Great video! What a wonderful concept, isn't it? My former neighbors planted all of their veggies and fruits in their front yard a couple of years in a row and it was so fun to watch it grow (and get an occasional bag of produce!) I'd love to go visit the people in this video and join them for dinner! :) Thank you for sharing that.

  • Judy Borman Judy Borman on Aug 20, 2015
    I Googled drought resistant plants for northern California and one of the websites was full of photos of beautiful, colourful gardens. I like the straight lines of the sidewalk the way it is because it mimics the straight lines of the verandah supports and window trims, but I would design curved beds of colourful plants and intermix lots of herbs with them so the gardens are not just decorative, but useful. If you start the gardens where the sidewalks join and swoop them up and out towards the driveway/fence, you could extend the existing rock garden into the front corners of the lawn. It's a really nice house!

  • Sheila Wayne Sheila Wayne on Aug 20, 2015
    Paint the house with a color from the stone on the bottom of porch and use some of the other ideas for a rock garden and native plants. I don't think I would go with the rust color unless it is a bit a lighter color due to the color of the steps or change the color of steps to a darker color of the stone. Maybe go with somewhat of a desert look since CA is so arid and dry in places.

  • Nancy marjanov Nancy marjanov on Aug 20, 2015
    Loads of potential .Sooo cute ! Succulents! Hen and chicks, aloe, lots of choices. I took my lawn out too. I'm in Wi. Zone 4-5. Used hosta and spirea.

  • Christine Tripi Christine Tripi on Aug 20, 2015
    I would investigate artificial grass, I have seen this used on several home improvement shows and it looks great and their is no maintenance. This will allow you to wait out the drought and still enjoy the look and feel of real grass. Drought resistant plants are also an option but the water situation in CA seems pretty grim and not letting up anytime soon. I wish you the best of luck...don't forget to post whatever you decide to do...would love to see the end results.


    • Cheri T Cheri T on Aug 20, 2015
      @ELLISANDRA Hello, he's asking what to do because he has NO WATER!

  • Vanessa Hernandez Vanessa Hernandez on Aug 20, 2015
    Varieties of cacti!

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Aug 20, 2015
    Adorable house! I would think "garden" more than lawn. Walkways with benches, a few large rocks, maybe a water small bubbling water feature, a couple of large pots along with a few small ones to plant some flowers for color and use mulch or straw instead of rocks because you then won't have to keep cleaning out the leaves and trash out of the rocks from the droppings from the trees! (I saw a water feature with a watering pot hanging from a post pouring "fake water" into a bucket...the "fake water" was those crystals from chandeliers that you can find at thrift stores, etc...ADORABLE and great where there is a water shortage.)

  • Janice B. Janice B. on Aug 20, 2015
    Look for shrubs that prefer dry conditions...bottlebrush( there's also a dwarf cultivar), oleander,etc. Eucalyptus mulch has more of an insect deterrent effect. Artificial turf is a possibility, check to be sure your city allows's also pricy. Good luck, I know what it's like to suffer drought...Florida 1998....

  • Cynthia Cynthia on Aug 20, 2015
    The idea of native grasses seems ideal as they are drought tolerant and come in such varieties of foliage, sizes, etc. the house is gorgeous and the landscaping would be carefree and beautiful. Go to your state extension service online and check out plants suitable for your zone and conditions.

  • Constance Marshall Constance Marshall on Aug 20, 2015
    Research dry rock river beds. Add all rock and put maybe a few cacti. Add and old wagon wheel. Use the native grass like Cynthia mentioned,.

  • Lynda Lynda on Aug 20, 2015
    I am a firm believer in "river rock" med size. Then as Constance says put in a few cacti. My yard in the front here in Florida is river rock and I love it. More and more people here are going to rock mainly to conserve. water. We do have some lawn tho.

  • Poiu trews Poiu trews on Aug 20, 2015
    Astroturf! Be the envy of your neighbourhood with the only 'green'!

  • Kay Ellen Tomlinson Kay Ellen Tomlinson on Aug 20, 2015
    If you are in a fire zone remember, Eucalyptus is high in oil and highly flammable, goes up like a Tiki torch. Rather than bark, use gravel, coarse sand or river rock.

  • Judyms9 Judyms9 on Aug 20, 2015
    River rock, but I would not choose cactus because the existing plant life seems adequate and complements your very charming house. Perhaps some "pools" of very low lying succulents amid the river rock might be an option.


  • Bobbie joh Bobbie joh on Aug 20, 2015
    I see you have red chairs on the porch: I'd think about a bouganvillea on the side to climb a bit and pop the color. Smoke bush would also be beautiful next to the side of the house. In the front, I'd go with native grasses and lavender (keeping lavender away from direct path of walking: it will attract pollinators). Same with buddleia, which attracts both insects and butterflies. you could do a lantana for color as well. However, you should really keep the direct front of the porch more "open" - that tile work on the front is lovely, so show it off! You could consider a water feature with recycling water, or a "dry" water feature with river rock, a dry waterfall, and grass plantings. But wait for fall when rain is predicted to establish plantings better and make soil easier to work. Good luck! Zone 9 is so easy to grow!

  • Mandy s Mandy s on Aug 20, 2015
    I can see a tropical / meddertrainean theme. Some queen palms on each side lining the perimeter, then perhaps a 3 tiered fountain in the middle of the main walkway(,walkways curving around it up to the front steps,) use benches and smaller ornamental trees on each side( think islands) then use water saving plants like carpet roses for ground cover( can be planted in curves, circles etc.) You can even put in strips of fake grass, for that green color. I use to live in No. Ca. sold and moved to the desert, don't care for the desert look that much and so I went tropical with Palms and some colored rock, strips of fake grass and some boulders here and there , lantana for color and ground cover. I must say I'm loving it and low maintenance too, GOOD LUCK!

  • Cheryle Fuller Cheryle Fuller on Aug 20, 2015
    You can recycle your grey water into tubs or have the bath or shower drain connected to a water hose. Use 2 1/2" pipe that reduces to 3/4" eventually and water your garden with that. people don;t realize how easy it i to reccle water. since you are pier and beam it wil be fairly easy. YOu can also send that water to a tank, either above or underground. something as simple as a large trash can will work. You can get a hose bib from a garden supply store or plumbing section. It is designed to go through the wall of the tank. We use 500 gallon tanks food grade products were shipped in. Elevate them at least 18" and attach a spigot to the bottom, and your downspouts at the top with a screen to keep out mosquitos. keep your trees well watered.

  • MagnoliaMama MagnoliaMama on Aug 20, 2015
    I would consider a low wooden fence near the sidewalk, which would block the view only of your foundation. Inside the fence I would cover much of the grass with a ground-level wooden deck that would greatly increase your outdoor living space. You could leave several small open areas in the deck so that you could plant drought-tolerant trees and other plants.

  • Jennifer Lynn Jennifer Lynn on Aug 20, 2015
    Lots of shrubs? Grass is always going to look best but if you don't want it I would just do a bunch of plants.

  • Jan Loomis Jan Loomis on Aug 20, 2015
    I would lighten the color of the roof. It is too dark and makes the house feel heavy.

  • Arlene Fitzpatrick Arlene Fitzpatrick on Aug 20, 2015
    liope? it requires almost no maintenance and only grows about 4-5" and gets upright purple flowers once a year. Very sturdy and will spread - leave room for that.

    • Lin2075127 Lin2075127 on Aug 20, 2015
      @Arlene Fitzpatrick I have a lot of that. It is a great ground cover or spaced as I have it. Actually, there are several kinds of it.

  • Diana Diana on Aug 20, 2015
    Another option would be to "paint" your lawn. has a great product that many California homeowners have started using because of the drought. It's safe and non-toxic and relatively inexpensive. Good luck.

  • Arlene Fitzpatrick Arlene Fitzpatrick on Aug 20, 2015
    I would also paint the paint/concrete and plant some airy bushes in front - bottlebrush would work in CA and would give nice color -- would need to trim them to keep them on the smaller side.

  • Donna Weigel Donna Weigel on Aug 20, 2015
    I would replace the front door, something much lighter and with a window. For the lawn replace it with a desert type look, yuccas, rocks and other drought tolerant plants.

  • Edythe Edythe on Aug 20, 2015
    I just completed a similar project. The plants are a combo dwarf fruit trees plus Mediterranean/native grasses/shrubs and will increase 3-5x their size. Almost all the plants bear flowers. I used mulch, which helps retain water, rather than gravel, which causes water to evaporate quickly, holds heat/cold and increases the home's energy use by 10-20%. Planting occurred at the worst time (late July) but everything is surviving, showing new growth, and flowering.

  • Me Me on Aug 20, 2015
    You can actually create an English garden look with native CA plants. Check out classes at local nurseries and Huntington Gardens in San Marino/Pasadena has classes. Your local nursery may even offer a consultant whose fee can transfer to plants. (Nurseries are getting creative since the drought is costing them too.) Thetr are succulents that look like cabbage plants that would be perfect. And succulents flower so even better. Plus very little water and maintenance -less than the grass. Also-grants are available from most cities to remove the grass and plant water tolerant, that will help with cost. Have fun!

  • Johnchip Johnchip on Aug 20, 2015
    Cedar mulch or pine needle the entire thing like a pine grove.

  • Kay Jefferson Kay Jefferson on Aug 20, 2015
    Check out the turf rebate program through CalWater - You can get a rebate up to $1000 for replacing your lawn with California Native drought tolerant plants. Even if you choose not to apply for the rebate, they have a wealth of information on how to replace your lawn. The application process is not easy, but would be worth it if your application is accepted!

  • Wanda Bourgeois Wanda Bourgeois on Aug 20, 2015
    I had an area that grass wouldn't grow, I went to Home Depot and bought inexpensive rugs that looked like short grass worked wonderful and kept dirt out of the houde just use a leef blower when leaves etc need clearing. no worry about mowing, I love it

  • on Aug 20, 2015
    You'll find some great alternative lawn ideas here. The article also explains what will add the most value to your home:

  • Diane Diane on Aug 20, 2015
    I think artificial turf would be good, otherwise it will look too busy if you add a bunch more plants there. Maybe a lawn ornament or two like a family of turtles or something.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Aug 20, 2015
    Here in AZ, where I live, we use river rock and plants that use little water.

  • Jennifer Jennifer on Aug 20, 2015
    A low ground cover such as periwinkle. Spreads like crazy and has little flowers in the Spring. Evergreen with shiny green leaves.

  • Susan Williams Pernot Susan Williams Pernot on Aug 20, 2015
    succulents like ice plants or dryland type flowers

  • PJ PJ on Aug 20, 2015
    If you do a google search for low maintenance desert landscaping, there are lots of ideas that could be tweeked, also search for low maintenace mountain landscaping, that may give more ideas that work with N California, I've seen beautiful yards in Canmore AB, Canada that use mulch, or cedar chips, native plants and either granite rock (think very large piece of raw stone) or do more of a dry river rock stream bed, as an accent. Or you could do something really pretty with a flagstone path and mulch.

  • LAURA P LAURA P on Aug 20, 2015
    Unfortunately artificial turf is not good for the ground. There is a low growing ivy that would look great and several drought resistant plants, some flowering, Check out "drought resistant ground cover" Good luck

  • Sarah A. Victory Sarah A. Victory on Aug 20, 2015
    I realize you didn't say anything about the house but I would put the same stone on the steps as is around the foundation of the house. On the left side of the house I would add another drought tolerant pyramidal shrub. I would also line the walkway on each side w/something like lirope or big blue grass or something that looks neat and does well in N. Calif. Use landscaping edging around your beds around the house and make sure you put down landscape fabric first and then river rock as mulch and you will never need to replace it again. If you use river rock (pea gravel) in your yard you may wish to forego the landscape edging around any beds. Also If you decide to put down river rock where the grass is use a high grade landscape fabric and any weeds will be minimum. Don't forget color in your choices. The more beds and landscaping you use the less yard you will need to concern yourself with. Look at homes in the area for plant ideas that are doing well and you like.If it is not always hot-- do you need an inviting sitting area in the yard? Remember, have fun w/it and make it your own and you don't need to do it all at once. Homes and landscapes evolve w/the personality of it's owners.

  • Shari Veater Shari Veater on Aug 20, 2015
    Why not fake grass? My son in the L.A. area put it down and a good friend who has little hidden put it down by the coast in San looks and feels great!

  • Jordan Le Bouton Jordan Le Bouton on Aug 20, 2015
    This won't probably help you but my front yard of my 1910 house is nothing but weeds. I jokingly said I wanted to cover it in wild flowers and lo and behold I was told good thought. I like that there would be some flowers in front and in the back.

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Aug 20, 2015
    Sounds like you already have ideas. I would run off a bunch of pics of the house and play around sketching in the grasses, etc. until you get what pleases you.

  • Lori T Lori T on Aug 20, 2015
    Black Rock

  • Kaki Mulaki Kaki Mulaki on Aug 20, 2015
    I have seen a yard full of rosemary.

    • Mary Tonningsen Mary Tonningsen on Aug 23, 2015
      @Kaki Mulaki I love rosemary - it gets those pretty little blueish purple flowers and it smells wonderful all year round. And takes hardly any water!

  • Linda Fraser Linda Fraser on Aug 20, 2015
    I would remove the grass and lay down plastic to keep weeds away. Then I would cover with white rocks and make a rock garden. Perhaps put a water feature on one side.

    • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Aug 21, 2015
      @Linda Fraser I was going to do plastic in part of my yard until I was told that plastic and even landscaping fabric or too many rocks can affect surrounding vegetation such as trees and bushes by deprivng them of oxygen.

  • Braznoff Braznoff on Aug 20, 2015
    depends do you want to be able to walk on it???

  • Jean Koshi Jean Koshi on Aug 20, 2015
    Remove the dead grass, cover with a weed barrier and add a few large well placed rocks. Plant a few giant agaves which are drought tolerant. Fill the empty space with wood bark or small gravel. I think a bright colored front door would add pizazz and a pop of color to your house. Good luck with whatever you choose. Aloha from Hawaii!

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Aug 20, 2015
    a dry creek bed would be nice for one area and some plants that take the heat of this area

  • Kathleen Kathleen on Aug 20, 2015
    I would use a variety of native plants, such as a low-spreading Ceanothus accented with Coreopsis. Try contacting your University of California Extension office for your county. They should be able to advise you on native plants for your section of the state.

  • Rita Marie Rita Marie on Aug 20, 2015
    pea gravel and an island with a few large decorative cacti, red gravel path.

  • Kathleen Kathleen on Aug 20, 2015
    Sister in same zone. She did AstroTurf. I would plant tall shrubs on left wall, with heavy silver dollar dark mulch. Mix the stones along the street, not large ones around the edge. Remove the plants from this area.

  • My first instinct was to make bright.

    • See 2 previous
    • Kay Jefferson Kay Jefferson on Jun 05, 2016
      I would love to know what program this is as well!

  • Michael Michael on Aug 20, 2015
    We went to United Water service for ideas on native plants and trees. They were very helpful. Took out all the grass, amended the soil with compost ect. Planted tomatoes and peppers. A bit of zucini in raised beds, and planted native flowers, bushes and ground cover. That and of course, this is an ever evolving project, so, it's never done but we cut our cost of h20 by well over half!! And we have a swing in the front yard now!

  • Arleen M Arleen M on Aug 20, 2015
    not sure what to replace the lawn with but, place planter boxes on the railings to add some color. If you wash your dishes in a dish tub you can use that water for the planters. Add some soil moist to the planter soil to slowly release the water back into the soil to help conserve it. Also, check out local garden centers for options on plants that grow in your area that don't need much water. Have fun!

  • Gwen Gwen on Aug 20, 2015
    I'm not sure where you live but I live in zone 9 CA Central Valley. People not familiar with our very hot summers but farther north in the valley cooler nights would not understand how to transition. But in my hometown ( Turlock) The Greenery has Cal Poly horticulturists as owners and give help and tips and suggestions. Unfortunately AstroTurf in Fairfield works for it is closer to the Bay Area but not with heat. It's proven to produce deadly gases and becomes extremely hot. Modesto, Sacramento, Visalia and Bakersfield to name just a few other cities have excellent privately owned nurseries that are able to help. All native grasses?? I'd think on that. I did that once. They die in the winter and are very very sharp edged and hard to cut back. They spread and grow very overpowering for your small area. I have Heavenly Bamboo Nandina the short bush one that has color interest in winter of deep burgundy. It faces west and also on my south side in front of mature cypress. They do very well and do not grow tall. I'd even ask about a small tree. For we do need oxygen desperately. Tree roots go down deep and survive better than say annuals in drought. Pea gravel? Be prepared for it to be a litter box ( keeping it real) and hard to rake your leaves out of. I put all my trees and plants on a drip watering system but I am no expert and a tree was not getting enough! Go to a sprinkler store that will help to convert your flowerbeds into drip watering. I've also seen a trend to doing raised box gardening in that area of grass. It looked really sharp. For we can because of our temperate winters have spring, summer, fall and winter harvests. Somehow the thought of living surrounded by rocks which give no oxygen to clean our valley's dirty air and natives which die back can be accessories but maybe not the full use of your lawn area? Remember, the owners of these locally non big box nurseries come with a wealth of experience and even expertise for our very need. How to best plant for drought but also an El Niño as well.

  • Sheri N Sheri N on Aug 20, 2015
    I've seen a type of meadow grass that only grows 6-8 inches high per year and you only have to mow it down once in the spring. There is a Catalog nursery in Arizona that sells it in plugs. I was thinking about using it for my front yard. You could also mix some wild flower seeds in with it, soften the edges of your flower beds and sidewalk and your done! Also the plus is the meadow grass is xeriscape frendly! you only have to water about once a month!

  • Lorraine Lorraine on Aug 20, 2015
    The left side of the yard on the wall side,take out grass and fill in with stone that matches what's on your house, or a concrete faux finish. In the shape of a fan from the corner(wall and sidewalk) would be the point and the fan arch where your small edging garden on wall side is to the end of your walk way and sidewalk join. You can put conversation seating, mabe a small fire pit or bowl? Potted large scale drought tolerant grasses large stones? And even paint that wall a soft green that's in your stones. Ad more river rock beyond the fan corner and put in the smaller Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile) or smaller ornamental grasses.paint the walk way to complement your porch and the patio,mimic the arch shape on the other side with the river rocks and plantings but maybe black wood chip mulch and a Center grouping of the biggest agapanthus with large decorative stones. We live in Lincoln CA but we're renting so we can't do anything about what we have. But I still plan it as if I could change it.

  • Nancy Evans Nancy Evans on Aug 20, 2015
    New artificial turf. Looks and feels like real.

  • Jamie K Jamie K on Aug 20, 2015
    If the photo loaded, I plan to do this on a smaller scale. A mix of decking square and rock.

  • Rene Rene on Aug 20, 2015
    Widen you flower beds around the house and walkway, maybe a sitting are off to the side. Are you able to change the front walkway to curve over to the driveway? Fill in with mulch or the stones you are all ready using.

  • Cynthia Cynthia on Aug 20, 2015
    I'm a huge fan of decomposed granite. i have it in both my front & back yard & i live in san diego, where we are on strict water rations. do xeriscape & use gorgeous ceramic urns as focal points, you never have to water or replace them so could be a wash cost wise. also, don't do a dry river bed, it's so over done. maybe you could put a cute pad w/pavers or slabs of slate to match the front of your house & put a small outdoor cafe table & 2 chairs?

  • PattyV PattyV on Aug 20, 2015
    Drought resistant high grasses to your left. planter beds placed randoming thoughout the front. The remaining areas covered with gravel and large rocks to outline pathways around beds.

  • Janie Janie on Aug 20, 2015
    can make a couple or so accent beds with surrounding small boulders or flagstone and planted with drought resistant lavender, rosemary etc. If you like artichokes, they may even work although not drought resistant. Violetta stays smallish and is a cute type of artichoke plant. You have to order however from a nursery. You get the hot sun in afternoons but if you have semi-shade from say, large trees, how about the ever popular and oh so Victorian hydrangea? Great for foundation planting. In the areas surrounding the the beds and filling in your landscape, gravel. Not unlike in the the photos. You can also search the web for Victorian landscape ideas, gardens etc. Here are a couple photos for ideas on the accent beds. You can use your imagination for what you like. I'd like to see when you complete your project! ................Uh oh! Sorry, cant get the images to copy. Here is a link to check some photos out:;_ylt=AwrTcdS9ndZVBToAROInnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTE0c3AzaWpzBGNvbG8DZ3ExBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDUFJEQ1RMMV8xBHNlYwNzYw--?p=Victorian+Gardens+Landscape+Design&fr=chrf-yff38&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002 One of the photos reminds me of your home and has decorator wrought iron flower bed edging along the front of the home. Then there are others in the gallery that have examples of accent beds. Good luck with your project!

  • Marci N Marci N on Aug 21, 2015
    You can always go with Astro turf? LOL I just came home from there and my brother actually painted his lawn green for his wedding. We have a church up here in Oregon that has a cool labyrinth in rocks. It's really relaxing and pretty? Or I have seen where they try to emulate a dry river or stream bed. Use desert plants, yucca, sage, and drought resistant plants. Succulents are good for that. I know up here on the coast we have sand that blows like crazy, so a lit of people use bark. But the fire danger is there. Better to go with rock in such a dry area.

  • Deborah Deborah on Aug 21, 2015
    Repurpose some of the river stones you are already using to edge decomposed granite patio sitting area near the wall as well as a path to driveway. Stain concrete to match. Can use the river stones and a few larger boulders to create a natural looking dry stream bed across the yard from the front of the tree by the wall running by the sitting area and crossing the walkway, running diagonally across the corner of the other side of the yard, crossing the sidewalk to pick it up again on the median area by the driveway. Fill in all the areas between with drought tolerant once established plants such as dymondia, wooly thyme, oregano (all ground covers), rosemary, lavender, salvias, gaura (for larger mounding plants. I would use a few larger shrubs/small trees near the wall and layer out with the smaller plants. If you like really large plants, pride of madeira is large and architectural in appearance with huge purple flowers when in bloom, and looks great when uplit at night.

  • Theresa Cady Theresa Cady on Aug 21, 2015
    Creeping thyme. It will take some foot traffic, stays under 4" tall, and doesn't require the watering that grass lawns need. Plus, you can eat it. Bark mulch as an accent to the thyme, a few big rocks.

  • Lynda Wilson Lynda Wilson on Aug 21, 2015
    Small enough areas to put artificial grass, expensive, but will pay off in the future. Be sure to research, some are cool to the bare feet and work best for pets in the heat.

  • Diane Diane on Aug 21, 2015
    The problem with rocks is that they reflect a lot of heat. Not sure you would want too many more.

  • Sherri Sherri on Aug 21, 2015
    There are lots of beautiful CA natives to choose from for a drought tolerant garden. Easy choices are lavender, salvia (sages) and ceanothus for your perennials. Here are a couple of good websites to get you going. Have fun! You don't have to give up flowers and greenery to be drought tolerant!

  • Mary Bennett Helmers Mary Bennett Helmers on Aug 21, 2015
    Drought tolerant native plants! Only need water for establishment and you can attract native butterflies and other pollinators. The California native plant society at can provide great info about what plants should do well in your area.

  • Francine Davies Francine Davies on Aug 21, 2015
    Circular seating area on one side defined by bender board, filled with either pea gravel or stepping stones with gravel in between the stones. Line the outside area with period drought tolerant plants. Stone pathway from driveway across old lawn to front walk: bird bath and drought tolerant plants between pathway and sidewalk. Add one or two small, whimsical statues within the plantings from that period.

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Aug 21, 2015
    My aunt in San Diego finally let ice plant grown for her back lawn. It is green, grows low, and is drough tolerant. Mix in some tall grasses and other drought tolerant species and you should get a nice job.

  • Kayo Frazier Kayo Frazier on Aug 22, 2015
    Here's my 2 cents...You might have to do some research to see if these plants are drought resistant. However, I think these plants will help w/ mosquitoes around your house & some of them can be pretty.

  • Barbara Barbara on Aug 22, 2015
    Agree with Francis Davies.

  • Jean Jean on Aug 23, 2015
    Though I live in Pennsylvania now (usually green and lush) I am originally from Arizona. Take a page from their desert landscaping techniques and put in rock. Green rock for the grass areas if you must…but after the initial outlay in expense and effort it is virtually maintenance-free. Your drought has been going on for a while hasn’t it? You can add areas of drought-resistance plants or not as you see fit. My one brother (in Gilbert, AZ) also left a small grassy square in one back corner for his dog’sconvenience but this could be solved by walking your animal (if you have one) instead of letting it go in the back yard – good for you both. Also mosquitos AND MOST OTHER BUGS are cut down quite a bit as there is no place for the water to pool (if the rock areas are laid correctly). I’ve seen some stunning desert yards. You might look on the internet for ideas. Good luck!

  • Mar2067780 Mar2067780 on Aug 26, 2015
    creeping thyme everywere its low and has pretty pink flowers great for the bees and butterflys and smells great when you walk on it , I have some in my back yard, I love it,

  • Kyn Kyn on Aug 30, 2015
    How about succulents? Most of them can survive the desert, why not that lawn? Interspersed w/grasses. Or how about a container garden?

  • Laurie Laurie on Sep 01, 2015
    Let us know what you decide on. :)

  • Pat whitmus Pat whitmus on Sep 06, 2015
    How about a dry riverbed winding thru the yard. Accent with various dry grasses and cactus that bloom. Add a few pots of low maintenance flowering shrubs for added color.

  • Joys Collins Joys Collins on Sep 17, 2015
    cobblestones and some big potted plant or two along with some homemade globes or bell lights...wheelbarrel of flowers spilling over....make it your our with the things you love good day to you !

  • Lotus-e Lotus-e on Oct 02, 2015
    thanks for those lovely ideas. for 2 years now I have had no lawn. Just sand and the odd weed, I grown some veg in containers, also some herbs. I have fruit trees, not much fruit , as I try and water them every now and then, it is spring here, hoping the drought will be broken this coming rainy season. Hoping for the same for you in California...

  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Oct 05, 2015
    How about california poppies? They don't need much, and the foliage is a fantastic color

  • Jenna Anderson Jenna Anderson on Dec 10, 2015
    a small fountain and some colorful rocks

  • Allen Kang Allen Kang on Jan 05, 2016
    You have a wonderful garden.

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Jan 06, 2016
    Have you decided on a ourse of action yet?

  • Laurie Laurie on Jan 06, 2016

  • Marilyn Bates Marilyn Bates on Jan 07, 2016
    Current plans are to repaint steps in gray, paint trim on screen door red to match front door and plant grasses along the the path interspersed with rocks. Can't do much now because of El Nino!!!

    • Bonny McDaniel Bonny McDaniel on Jan 08, 2016
      @Marilyn Bates Do you mean ornamental grasses? I think that would be a great way to landscape. I live just down the hill from you and we are filling in much of our backyard with different ornamental grasses. I'm trying to find a source for some nice river rocks, also.

  • Dfm Dfm on Jan 29, 2016
    i live in part of the u.s. known as 'the land between 2 rivers" some part of my yard is underwater at least twice a summer. i've been working on drainage solutions...i've done the dry river thing, it does require maintenance. much more than i anticipated. have you thought about a raised bed filled with sand...and just rake some cool pattern in it?

  • Pandalana Williams Pandalana Williams on Jun 04, 2016
    You idea sounds lovely. Mulch and low water needed plants. I found this link for you: Also, maybe a dry creek bed running through part of it. You could relocate those lovely rocks, as mulch would be much prettier there. And, all together like that up front is probably making it hotter there in the late day sun.