Whether you are hoping to conserve water, cut down on time spent weeding and mowing, or just want to make the most of your outdoor space, these 10 backyards prove that low maintenance doesn’t have to mean boring. They get it right with a party-ready bocce ball court, alfresco dining areas and more.
1. Bocce ball court. With a bocce ball court, fire pit and minimal plantings, this water-wise Austin, Texas, backyard is primed for parties. String lights around the perimeter illuminate the court at night and add to the ambiance.
2. Small on lawn, big on play. A central rectangle of lawn offers comfy play space for little ones without giving over the entire backyard to grass. Surrounding the center green are cement and gravel paths leading to a fire pit, covered seating area and deck.
3. Cool urban hangout. This small San Francisco backyard was transformed from a jumbled mishmash of potted plants and wonky brickwork into a flowing space ideal for relaxing with friends. An outdoor living room positioned at the highest point in the yard provides a lookout over neighboring Bernal Hill, while the Cor-Ten steel fire pit creates a welcoming spot to gather in the evening.
4. No mowing needed. Artificial turf forms the centerpiece of this small city garden in London, where a real lawn would be challenging to care for. Surrounding the artificial turf with real plants and trees, as seen here, is a good way to help the fake stuff blend in.
5. Private putting green. For a golfer, having a private putting green may just be the ultimate backyard accessory. A seating area next to the artificial turf green allows spectators to lounge in comfort.
6. Sweet and petite. This Alabama backyard may be small but it still manages to pack in tons of features, from the raised deck dining area to the office shed. A hanging chair, gas fire table and mini-lawn area provide nooks to explore.
7. Room for entertaining. This luxurious yard was designed with entertaining in mind, with a series of outdoor rooms spanning the length of the yard. Shown in the foreground is a comfy outdoor living room zone with ample seating for a crowd. A path meanders by a small green space and ends at an outdoor fireplace and dining table.
8. Chic Mediterranean. Enjoy leisurely alfresco feasts on your own Mediterranean-style patio. Here, a long table sits between two rows of olive trees with an outdoor kitchen and fireplace on one end. The arrangement is ideal for preparing — and savoring — a meal.
9. Hot tub. Unthirsty plantings and a hot tub nestled into a flagstone patio give this Southern California backyard a lush look. At the opposite end, a rustic stone fire pit continues the naturalistic look.
10. Outdoor cinema. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy dinner and a movie outdoors when it looks this good? Crisscrossing string lights overhead boost the ambiance and wide doors provide easy indoor-outdoor flow.