10 Drought-Tolerant Lawn Alternatives - Backyard Boss
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

10 Drought-Tolerant Lawn Alternatives

Whether you live somewhere that tends to be dry and warm all summer long or are simply looking to conserve water, there’s one simple answer for keeping your lawn looking green and lush: drought-tolerant lawn alternatives.

While turf lawns are a traditional and visually appealing choice for your yard, they do come with plenty of costs. Things like water and pesticides tend to add up in price while cutting and caring for the lawn can take a lot out of your day. And it’s no secret that time, money, and water are a few things we’d all like to save.

Check out these best drought-tolerant lawn alternatives from stunning, unique choices to options that are a little more traditional. There’s something to suit everyone’s needs and preferences. By the end, your yard will be more of an oasis than ever.

Creeping Charlie

creeping charlie lawn alternative
Image credit: KanphotoSS via shutterstock

While creeping Charlie has traditionally been labeled a weed, it is actually an excellent lawn alternative. In fact, it suppresses the growth of other plants, meaning it will stop other weeds from infesting your yard. With that being said, it is important to keep it out of your garden to avoid a take-over.

Because it spreads so easily, it is also drought tolerant and low-maintenance. Plus, it can survive in shady areas and under foot traffic. Creeping Charlie also merges the classic green turf colour with stunning purple florals for a more aesthetically pleasing lawn.

Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme for lawn alternatives
Image credits: smilla4 via openverse

Able to withstand foot traffic and numerous different weather conditions, creeping thyme is one of the best lawn alternatives on the market. It’s also low-maintenance, requiring very little water and zero mowing. Since it acts as a dense ground cover, it also stops weeds from growing for a seamless and stunning lawn.

That being said, thyme is best for drier climates since it doesn’t like to be overwatered. It can also be on the more expensive side of things and requires installation. But once you’ve planted it, creeping thyme is a beautiful and hassle-free addition to any garden or yard space.

Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses for lawn alternatives
Image credits: Wiandt Kertészet via openverse

Ideal for reducing the amount of turf on your lawn, ornamental grasses are easy to maintain and look great all year round. Plus, they are drought tolerant and can survive easily in most soils.

While they can cover plenty of ground, they aren’t ideal for foot traffic and should instead be a more decorative option. That being said, they don’t require any mowing and will hold their shape throughout all different weather conditions.


Clover for lawn alternatives
Image credits: kahunapulej via openverse

Clover is the ideal option for mixing with or completely replacing traditional turf. They are also beneficial to your yard and garden, acting as a natural soil fertilizer that eliminates the need for fertilization. Plus, clover is drought tolerant, meaning it requires little to no watering.


Moss for lawn alternatives
Image credits: [luis] via openverse
Moss is one of the most similar alternatives to classic turf in terms of its durability and appearance, but it boasts low maintenance. It requires no mowing and little to no water, especially if it’s in a shaded area. It’s also simple to install and there are plenty of varieties to choose from, so the entire process is hassle-free.


Image credits: Lynne Hand via openverse

Chamomile provides plenty in terms of both functionality and aesthetics, requiring very little when it comes to maintenance. The plant is drought tolerant, requires zero mowing, and is a versatile option for gardens and lawns. It also fertilizes the soil, making it the ideal option for pairing with regular turf.

Chamomile also adds a lovely aroma and is a commonly used herb, but some varieties can be toxic to animals so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase! It also prefers more sun, though it can survive in shade as well.

Dutch Clover

Dutch clover for lawn alternatives
Image credits: Chiot’s Run via openverse

Like clover, Dutch clover is a thick, drought resistant, and easy to maintain lawn alternative. It’s also durable, meaning it can handle daily foot traffic. It also requires no mowing and little to no watering, and it’s even naturally pest-resistant.

All these factors make it an excellent option if you’re looking to replace your turf with something more affordable, but that also boasts unique flowers and hassle-free maintenance.

Flower and Shrub Beds

Flower beds in front of house
Image credits: ADD via Pixabay

While there’s something to be said about the beauty of a minimal green lawn, it is a lot more work than many desire. Instead, opt for a field of florals to add dimension and color to your space. Drought tolerant perennials or wildflowers are the way to go, especially if you’re interested in keeping things low-maintenance.

While most plants aren’t ideal for foot traffic, we all know the joy associated with frolicking through a field of flowers. Plus, they’re great for filling in large, empty spaces, keeping the turf to a minimum. On top of that, they don’t require much attention in terms of mowing and are a versatile option for any space.

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff for lawn alternatives
Image credits: May_hokkaido via Pixabay

Sweet woodruff is another low-maintenance option as it requires no mowing and little to no watering. It’s also an edible herb and can handle foot traffic, making it a versatile and multi-functional option for your garden and yard.

On top of that, sweet woodruff is weed resistant, so you don’t have to stress about maintaining your lawn in any way. Plus, it’s ideal for shaded areas and adds dainty, aesthetically pleasing visuals to any space.


Snow in summer for lawn alternatives
Image credits: Elstef via Pixabay

Cerastuim, also known as snow-in-summer, features white blooms and frosty green stems that create a snowy look across your lawn. They are drought resistant and resilient, making them the ideal option for year-round lawn coverage. Because the plants can grow quite high, they are better suited for pairing with regular turf or other lawn alternatives that can handle foot traffic.

In Summary

These low-maintenance lawn alternatives are the ideal way to conserve water as well as time, making them a beneficial option for gardens and yard spaces everywhere. Plus, they add a more unique and eye-catching touch, making your space stand out amongst the crowd of green!

And whether you simply want to minimize your turf lawn or replace it all together, these lawn alternatives are a great place to start. If you’re looking for more lawn alternatives and budget-friendly, eco-conscious, time-saving options, check out these xeriscaping ideas.