Small Area Grasses We Want to Run Across

Updated on June 4, 2019

Can Small Spaces Have Nice Lawn Areas?

Whether it is environmental motivations, time or physical considerations, or financial need, homeowners are rooting out ways to rethink the time and energy it takes to care for large lawns. Finding the perfect plants for downsizing a lawn can be thorny business unless we familiarize ourselves with the options.

Thinking outside the quadrangle is the best way to uproot old habits when it comes to lawns. Introducing the unexpected to a compact area gives homeowners options for sprucing up their outdoor areas. Check out how some familiar grasses can be used in interesting ways. Using these ideas as springboards for your landscape may be the ticket to your best yard space.

Buffalo Grass
Buffalo Grass | Source

Buffalograss Takes its Job in Stride

As a strong native turf easily planted via plugs, seed, or sod, buffalograss is an uncomplicated friend to small areas. A low grower, it can be left un-mowed, which is a snippet of news that lands it squarely in homeowners’ hearts. Any who are restructuring outdoor spaces in an effort to spend less time and resources on caring for their lawns will also appreciate its drought tolerance.

Needing at least 6 hours of sun each day, buffalograss enjoys sunny places. Understanding its personality is important. Too much attention can knock it back or kill it off. Too much water drowns it out. Too much mowing deprives its owner of one of its best features. Few needs make it ideal for lightweight gardeners.

Though not ideal for high traffic areas, it is plain to see that it’s not the choice for a kids’ play space. Recent varieties are being spotted filling in around patio areas and between flower beds, especially on banks and hillsides.

St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine Grass | Source

Who Knew St. Augustine was so Diverse?

Floratine, one of the St. Augustine class of grasses, likes to amble along the ground, working out well for people who want an easy care green space. Thriving in hot climates, it does not tolerate wet feet or cold shoulders. It does, however, permit close cutting, which is ideal for a small high-traffic lawn area. Floratine was not available before 1959, but its characteristics made it immediately popular.

Other St. Augustines are also high demand grasses due to their tuff turf. Floratam, Raleigh, and Seville have unique features that make them worth planting, and dwarf St. Augustines might be the preferred choice for cooler habitats because they are more grownup about brisker temps and shadier domains.

Choosing from the range of grasses offered in this saint’s group may be just what a turf grass specialist orders for their earth’s veneer. Why not yours?

Find Refined Options in Fescue Grasses

Fine fescue is a great pick for cooler, shadier regions. There are several family members to choose from–creeping red, Chewings, hard, and sheep–all having both similar and opposing traits. Vague enough?

Let’s clear it right up for our purposes. An almost no-care lawn choice can be found in the hard, the Chewings, and the sheep fescues since they do not grow by creeping around day and night.

Hard fescue tolerates heat a little better than its siblings and, with a little care after seeding, it can thrive in more basic soils. Chewings, also grown from seed, has rich green coloring for a dramatic but easy care lawn. The sheep variety is an excellent choice when switching to a naturalized lawn because left unmowed, it invites flowery guests to come and go freely as they play in the wind.

These grassy kinfolk can be employed in small areas with splendid success. Outcomes will likely be better than expected as they are reliable from the ground up.

Zoysiagrass | Source

The Distinct Zoysiagrass

This list would be incomplete without a year-round, high-traffic winner. Though a regular schedule of care is recommended, the amount of time it takes is so minimal, especially for small areas, that anyone who wants to do a little showcase gardening falls in love with it.

Once established zoysiagrass is an enviable lawn, large or small. A gorgeous green late spring to summer and an awesome golden oak from late fall to winter, it offers luxury stomping grounds.

Adding elegant variety to a garden, it seems to want to help decorate the seasons. Presenting a whole new area to enjoy at different times of the year, one of the zoysiagrasses can be a matchless choice for smaller lawns.

It can be mowed short, creating a safer space for kids to play and for the elderly to walk. Though hot months may require regular trims depending on the lawn’s location and use, a real plus during busy, hot summertimes is that it is a fairly slow grower.

While I love my western neighbor’s zoysia lawn, my southern neighbor despises its winter coloring so it’s not for everyone. But remember, to each his own in his own yard!

Perennial Ryegrass is Easily Satisfied (and a Little Witty)

Some of the grasses listed above may brown up in the cold season, but perennial ryegrass comes to the rescue. It can be seeded into other grasses to brighten up an otherwise drab several months of the year. I find its lively green color to be sun on a cloudy day, encouraging us that spring is on its way.

Planted by seed it is a splendid choice for small lawns. It does not have time to spread since it dies out (in most areas) when summer comes. Of course, in areas that stay cool the entire year, it’s a magnificent choice. Some mowing may be required in the not so cold months, but it does not grow fast in really chilly weather so ryegrass is basically no-mow then.

It is quite cheery when established correctly and left to dance in the breeze, though trimming with a mower is acceptable for more formal locations. This grass also makes a patio pot a merry spot in wintertime. When ryegrass is happy, everybody’s happy!

We have planted it in the fall season along with fescue to help loosen the soil so the fescue would have an easier time taking hold. This trick makes for easier planting of the summer grass while giving us that cheerful Irish green throughout wintertime.

A Mow Free Mix Frees Mankind

Freedom sums it all up. Compact lawns, less time, lower costs, fewer earthly resources all add up to freedom for homeowners to enjoy life more fully. Mow free spaces needing the least amount of care are very appealing and mow free grasses can also be used in pots for xeriscape outdoor areas.

One note about some mow free grass seed mixes is that they have an herbicidal effect, meaning that they naturally deal with undesirable undergrowth. If a simple-to-care-for green lawn is preferred, no mow options should be considered.

A motivated mastermind become entrepreneur has developed a brand of no-mow grass seed that continues to receive rave reviews. He named it after his mother and many say it is a pearl of a product. Considered a jewel in freedom fighters for lawns it has become a gem in the string of options that the little lawn movement brags about.

Dwarf Mondo Grass
Dwarf Mondo Grass | Source

Dwarf Mondo is Something Worth Monkeying Around With

How does mowing once a year sound? With some neat varieties to choose from dwarf mondos are a super-duper choice for replacing a lawn area that must be mowed frequently. Its usefulness for health issues is a neat study, but its use in borders, pots, and to fill in lawns is better known.

An evergreen, the dwarf mondo’s name speaks for its size. Its varieties grow in compact clumps that will intertwine and choke out weeds, seeding itself profusely. It can be a very economical choice for homeowners who already have a pot or a stand because it transplants so easily.

Limiting care for outdoor areas in some cases translates into using only potted plants. Mondo grasses are easy show-off stand alones in decorative containers, or they can be combined with other hardy green things in large planters. Varying foliage sizes and colors add greatly to their desirability.

Dymondia is a Diamond in the World of Grasses

Beautiful coloring is only one reason to embrace dymondia for a small lawn area. Commonly called silver carpet, this pretty princess is not a delicate damsel when planted correctly but this choice is probably not the best for children's jousting and jostling about.

A soft grayish green carpet is the effect it radiates across a yard space. Stepping stones throughout the planting area help protect the carpeting from heavy traffic. In a small area this exotic show stopper has proven itself to give homeowners something to crow about.

Water conservation in distressed areas is a huge concern. The issue is a stumper for those who do not understand the earth’s closed water system, but those in need of the resource focus on water conservation with a single-mindedness that leads them to plants like dymondia. Well known to require a mere 10% of the water that a typical lawn calls for means it is a refreshing option to any concentrating on water reserves.

This little plant also works hard for those who go to a zero lawn alternative because it is another grass that is pretty in pots. Homeowners and renters can enjoy its charms even in cold areas if the plantings are in containers that can be brought indoors during frosty seasons.

Sweet Flag

For the coldest regions this colonizing sweetie is a wetlands plant saluted for its use in small spaces. Though found growing wild in the best and worst our marshlands have to offer, sweet flag greets buyers with a bright assortment for mixing and matching in small damp yards and even in xeriscapes with a water feature.

Celebrated for its grass-like foliage, in bloom it has been described as a miniature cattail. Sweet flag is actually an old favorite across the world. Its aroma is part of the reason, but being deer resistant and having medicinal properties does not hurt its popularity. Doing well in potted plantings this ornamental ground cover is also distinctive in rock gardens with adequate moisture.

Its long history provides much reading for those interested. Today, we know the plant’s allure has not flagged. From historians to perfumers, sweet flag remains in high demand.

Living large is very often accomplished by going small!

Asters are Stars in Small Yards

It’s no wonder asters are making star appearances in small space gardens. They are a downsizing gardener’s dream come true. With a wide range of bloom colors, they may have broad or thin petals, are enjoyed by butterflies and birds, and many endure drought well, so, what’s not to applaud?

As a perennial, the old-fashioned aster makes gardening easy in border areas, rock gardens, or in potted arrangements. A lawn filled with aster plants allows meadowy flowers to flourish seasonally.

Taller asters can be used in tighter spaces, but shorter, more compact varieties will most often be used in lawns. Disease resistant varieties would obviously be a good choice for those who want to keep their gardening to a minimum.

The 1819 Aster Revolution is remembered as such because protesters wore the flower. Today, the aster is joining a different kind of revolution, one of helping people create outdoor living spaces that are more natural and easier to maintain. This star is again becoming a lead player in a major drama.

Which Will You Choose?

Transitioning from ranging high-maintenance lawns to naturalized spaces divided into smaller tracts with engaging interest and effective sustainability is well worth the effort. The rewards benefit homeowners and their neighborhoods.

These days, achieving the dream of living large is often accomplished by going small. Do it in small steps and see where it takes you! If you already have ideas and plans share them below to help others expand their thinking on grassy areas they are working on.

Have you considered downsizing your lawn area?

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Questions & Answers

    Are you considering a hardy grass for a small lawn space?

    Submit a Comment
    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


      6 weeks ago from the short journey

      Thank you, Ramona, for letting us know you found this useful!

    • ramonabeckbritman profile image


      6 weeks ago from Arkansas

      My husband does all the yard work. He pampers his grass. I will have to show him your article about all the different grasses to choose. Very good information here.

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


      14 months ago from the short journey

      Dale Anderson:

      Hey, thanks for leaving a comment on the fact that this will be helpful to you as you make the decision for your rental property. When it comes to renters things can be a bit unstable. It can be a good idea to use a dependable property manager.

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 

      14 months ago from The High Seas

      Will be reading this to my wife later today. We have been talking about what to do with our backyard after the renters let all the grass die (damned renters!)

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


      20 months ago from the short journey

      There are so many factors to consider when trying to make the best choice about grass. We've used 2 at a time before, but not 3. So glad it worked out well and thanks for sharing it here!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      We have primarily St. Augustine grass here in the Houston area. When we lived in Wisconsin many years ago we had a combination of 3 different grasses that we seeded and it did well. Interesting subject and educational as to what types of grass do well in the different growing conditions.

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


      21 months ago from the short journey

      Finding what works in your zone is the best place to start but your ideas sound like good ones. Snow does not bother rye grass in our area.

      I am planning to do some research on whether rye can be planted in winter over dormant zoysia. Not sure it will work but it would be pretty!

    • Nancy Owens profile image

      Nancy Owens 

      21 months ago from USA

      So, I'm thinking that I might like to try some buffalo grass. I like the slow growing idea for my larger orchard area.

      But I also like the idea of a green lawn in winter, and did not know rye grass would stay green. Hmmm... I'll have to factor in the snow cover thing, too. Might give a small area a try.

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from the short journey

      Marlene Bertrand:

      That sounds like a great choice for your needs. I've been letting rye grass grow roots into some hard soil and it will add nitrogen when it dies off. By then we should be ready to make final decisions on downsizing lawn area and choosing the best grasses for the different areas. Thanks much for coming by and adding your comment!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      2 years ago from USA

      Excellent article about the various kinds of grasses. I didn't know there were so many types of grasses to choose from. I'm leaning toward the Buffalograss as being my favorite to serve my need for not having to mow the grass so much.

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from the short journey


      So appreciate that you came by and let me hear from you on this newest post. It was really interesting to learn about grasses that are close to care free as I was researching the future of our green spaces.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      RTalloni, you certainly know your grasses. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. The St. Augustine is the one I hear of most often. Your suggestions are very practical. A good lesson on small area grasses!

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from the short journey

      Carb Diva:

      How lovely to know that this has already been useful to you! While this may be a springboard to the perfect grass for your situation, it's great to know that the hub has been helpful to you. Thanks much for stopping in to read and comment!

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from the short journey


      Thanks for stopping in and letting me know that this gave you some direction!

    • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from the short journey

      Kaili Bisson:

      Thanks bunches for letting me know you found this interesting and (hopefully) useful! :)

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      This could not have come at a better time. My lawn of 20+ years has become almost non-existent. It is now more moss and weed than actual grass. My climate "used to be" quite wet, but in the past 2 years we have had an unusually dry and hot summer. I have heard that this year, #3, will be more of the same. It's time to re-examine the type of grass that we typically use in my corner of the world--usually a mix of fine fescue and perennial rye. Thank you for all of the information--you have put all of the research in one handy place for me.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great article. I am looking into Pearl's Premium it may be just the ticket. Thanks

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 

      3 years ago from Canada

      Hi RTalloni, what an informative hub. There were a couple here I had not heard of before; they might not survive our winters. My hubby is lawn-obsessed, so some hardy, low-growing stuff might be just the answer.


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