5 Rules for Designing Your Lawn, and 2 Ways to Break Them

Grass is a staple of most outdoor spaces. Not only is a lawn a practical empty space, but the luscious growth adds texture and color to what might otherwise be a drab and dull yard. Often, the lawn is the largest feature in a backyard, which means designing it well is incredibly important. Unfortunately, if you are landscaping yourself, without a professional’s help, you might not know a good, grassy garden plan from a bad one.

As in interior design, exterior design boasts a number of rules you would be prudent to follow. Five of the most important rules focus on your lawn since it is likely to be a principal area in your yard. However, you can break these rules – if you know the right and wrong ways to do so. This guide will help you design a beautiful garden space, replete with attractive lawn and grasses, that looks unique to your space and tastes.

Outline Shapes

Before you take any real steps to building your landscape, you should take some time outlining your ideas on paper. Here, you can add the practical spaces you need in your yard, such as patios, kids play areas, and pools or other water features. However, you should avoid trying to fit your lawn into whatever areas are leftover; instead, try to build shapes with your lawn, combining rectangles or circles to give your lawn structure and balance.

Consider Borders

Outdoor spaces tend to look bigger when there are wide borders around your lawn. Using hardscaping or greenery, you should create a boundary to your grassy areas to create the illusion of space and define different regions of your yard.

Assess Access

One of the most common causes of grass decay is heavy traffic. Sure, you should be able to spend time on your grass, but your lawn should not be a byway to more important areas of your yard. Instead, you should install access paths through or around your lawn to save your grass from a premature end. You can place stepping stones through your lawn or make a hardscaped track around its borders.

Add Features

If your yard is nothing but lawn, you might want to add focal points to create visual interest in the sea of green. Some examples include: topiary, bird baths, statues, sundials, arches, and water features. These decorations simply break up the monotony of your lawn’s flat, green expanse and make your yard more appealing to the eye.

Remember Maintenance

Before we get into breaking these lawn design rules, it is important that we touch on one utterly unbreakable, permanently sacred lawn law: Take care of your lawn. Grass is more temperamental than you might expect, and proper maintenance is crucial if you want a luscious, green, good-looking lawn. It is more important than you might expect to mow your lawn to the correct height, water the correct amount, and perform other lawn maintenance tasks at the right time of year.

For example, in the spring, as soon as any snows or frosts disappear, you should be aerating your lawn to give the roots some oxygen and stimulate growth. You should reseed the lawn in summer to fix any brown or bald spots before fall, at which point you should be fertilizing and raking up any debris before snows fall once more. If you can’t keep track of your own lawn’s needs, it is imperative that you hire a professional who can keep your lawn looking and feeling healthy.

Break the Rules: Grass as Border

Your grass probably needs a border, so have you considered… using grass? Grasses come in all sorts of shapes and colors, and ornamental grasses make for gorgeous border material. You can keep your border grass tidy or you can let it run wild – as long as it doesn’t compete for space with your lawn.

Break the Rules: Grass in Containers

If your yard isn’t big enough for a full lawn, you can still enjoy a small splash of grass by planting it in a container. Even if you have a full-sized lawn, you might even add visual with extra grass in artful pots. Ornamental grasses thrive in large pots, and even lawn varieties can grow in troughs with the right soil and watering schedule.


Tags: backyard lawn, design, garden, lawn

Author: Maja Markovski


A 35-year-old female architect with a passion for innovative, sustainable design. I blend creativity and functionality to transform spaces into beautiful, practical environments.


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