What Real Estate Experts Really Think About Grass-Free Front Yards

published May 16, 2022
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Curb appeal isn’t always about having a manicured lawn. For homeowners who prefer a little less maintenance — or perhaps live where it’s too dry to even have a lawn — pavers and other kinds of hardscaping are often the go-to options. But those aren’t the only ways to achieve an attractive yet grass-free yard.

A Lovely Yard Without the Lawn

Joe Raboine, the director of residential hardscapes at Belgard, a manufacturer of pavers, wall products, and outdoor living solutions, says grass-free lawns have been growing in popularity in the Western U.S. as a way to combat droughts. It’s part of a landscaping technique known as

Kristina Morales of Kristina Morales Real Estate says the decision to go grass-free largely depends on what it’s like in your local area. “In heavily wooded neighborhoods, it’s normal to see large natural areas,” she says, noting that in some arid regions, grass simply won’t grow. “In those places, a well-managed yard full of plants and shrubs or rock gardens with cactus will catch the eye of homebuyers,” she explains.

But if you live in an area where lawns are more common, Morales warns homeowners not to overpersonalize their properties with other options.

“When you personalize a home, including the yard, you won’t appeal to the largest number of potential buyers when you sell,” she says. “If your yard is taken up with plants and ground coverings with little or no grass, it won’t be a favorite of families with children.”

Options for Grass-Free Lawns

Raboine says that if a homeowner would prefer not to have plants to maintain, decorative gravel is an option, with countless choices for both scale and color. Artificial turf is another option that comes in a variety of styles and pile heights — there’s even types for dog owners that minimize bacteria and cleanup. He says with the correct installation, artificial turf can last for decades.

A wildflower yard could also work in the right setting, Morales says, and it might even help your property stand out in a good way. “Native wildflower yards help the local ecosystem by reducing water use and supporting pollination. This appeals to a growing number of homebuyers.”

Pavers, of course, are a good move for a low-maintenance backyard. Raboine says that permeable pavers, like the ones Belgard makes, help reduce water use because they are installed with stones or other aggregates underneath that can redirect rainwater to underground aquifers, where the water can be filtered and recycled.

“Any of [these] options, if designed well, will not necessarily hinder home value — it may even enhance it,” Raboine says. He does note, however, that “a lush green lawn is still a staple of the American home, and most buyers would prefer to have at least some lawn where they can entertain and relax.” 

Morales notes that many newly built homes are part of planned urban developments (PUDs) which have strict guidelines for what owners can and can’t do to their properties — or at least their front yards. Morales says that you can likely do something natural in the backyard, and depending on where you live, it could be a hit with buyers.

Raboine agrees and recommends to homeowners who are intrigued by xeriscaping to first check in with a homeowner’s association, if there is one, for any limitations on what you can do with your landscape.

“You don’t want your home to stand out from the surrounding houses in a negative way,” Raboine says.