Lawn Design: How to Create a Lawn to Fit Your Garden & Lifestyle

by Daniel Hunter

A lawn is often the biggest feature in a garden. It’s also the least thought about when it comes to design.

If you want to design a new lawn that’ll;

  1. Have your friends and neighbours jaws drop with envy, and
  2. Serve you and your family well

You need to think beyond short, stripy grass.

The role your lawn plays in the design of your garden is an important one. As such, you should give it some careful consideration.

Get it right and your new lawn will improve the look and feel of your whole garden. At the same time, it’ll be easy to look after. But get it wrong and your whole garden won’t ever look as good as it could (or should). You could even find yourself in an uphill battle to keep it in good health.

So in this article, I’m going to explain everything you need to consider to get the most out of your new lawn. Before you even think about digging up your old one and starting again.

Then I’ll show you some lawn design ideas to get you all inspired and ready to start.

5 Things You Need to Consider When Designing a New Lawn

If you want your lawn to;

  1. Be practical
  2. Look epic, and
  3. Be easy to maintain and look after

You’ll need to consider the following;

1. How You Plan to Use the Lawn

Do you want a family lawn where the kids and dog can play?

You might not have kids and you’d prefer to use your lawn for relaxing in the sun and entertaining friends?

What about a formal lawn that resembles the baize on a billiard table?

You need to think about how you plan to use the lawn first. Not only will this affect the shape but also whether you use grass seed or turf. On top of that, it’ll help you decide on the type of turf you’ll lay or which grass seed you’ll sow.

2. The Size and Shape of Your Garden

The size and shape of your garden will affect the size and shape of your lawn.

For example, circular or oval lawns look good in small gardens. This is because they create a bigger sense of space and make your whole garden feel bigger than it actually is.

Circles and ovals also do well in odd-shaped gardens. The shapes draw the eye into the garden away from the boundaries.

And square or rectangular lawns will make a short, wide garden appear longer.

Sometimes obstacles or unmovable objects will dictate the shape of your lawn. For example, a big tree is likely to cause problems like;

  • Casting lots of shade
  • Outcompeting the grass for water, causing the soil to dry up
  • Dropping leaves in the autumn

In a case like this, you might be better creating a large bed and plant shade-loving shrubs or perennials. Then shape your lawn around the bed.

3. Access Points

One of the most common reasons why lawns deteriorate is through soil compaction. Most often caused by heavy use.

If your lawn has only a single access point, you’re asking for trouble. Constant use will compact the soil and make it difficult for grass to grow. Chances are you’ll end up with hard, bare soil where the grass should be.

So make sure you can access your lawn from as many places as possible, like a path along one edge for example.

Also, if your lawn is a thoroughfare to other parts of the garden you might experience problems. The path you take over the grass might look thin and patchy where the soil has compacted. Install a path either through or around the lawn to avoid this. Stepping stones are a good, cheap option.

4. Garden Features

Features like planted beds, water features and bird tables add interest to a large lawn.

That said, make sure they’re;

  1. Not too close together – You want to be able to get a lawn mower between them
  2. Have defined edges – You want them to be easy to maintain
  3. Are simple in shape – Again, this makes them easy to look after

5. Maintenance

Regardless of how you use your lawn, the shape, access or features, it should be easy to maintain.

When a lawn is easy to look after, it’s a joy. That said, battling to push a lawn mower around tight edges and struggling to keep grass healthy is a pain in the ass.

When you design your lawn, always consider ‘ease of maintenance’ at the heart of it.

8 Easy to Maintain Lawn Ideas

To give you a bit of inspiration, here are 8 lawn designs that are easy to maintain;

1. A Formal Square Lawn For a Formal Garden

a formal lawn

This is a formal lawn done right.

The garden is a Randle Siddeley design. An international landscape architecture and garden design company based in London.

Formal lawns almost always use shapes with crisp, sharp edges. Which, by their nature are easy to maintain. And a square lawn like this begs for a striped finish.

2. Circular Lawn Design Creates a Sense of Space and Interest

a circular lawn

How good does a circular lawn look?!

They can feature in formal or family gardens to create a sense of space and interest. Especially when you combine them with creative lawn stripes. The lawn above was a winner in Allett’s Lawn Stripe Competition.

That said, nothing looks worse than a wonky circle. If you’re tempted by this kind of lawn design, make sure you get it right!

3. A Fun, Creative Shape

path around the lawn

This lawn (it’s actually astroturf but ssshhhh!) has a path right the way around it. As a result, you can get onto it from anywhere and it won’t suffer from soil compaction in a single area.

The shape of this lawn is a pretty fun one. The edges are still easy to maintain because the path also acts as a mowing strip. You’ll be able to run your lawn mower right over the top of it to cut the grass and keep the edges tidy.

4. Semi-Circular Lawn Disguises a Square Garden

a semi circular lawn design

If you look, this garden is square.

The garden designer, Jane Harris, has done a stellar job with this semi-circle lawn. It draws the eye into the garden and the planted borders instead of around the edges of it.

And this shape is dead easy to maintain.

5. Stepping Stones in the Lawn

stepping stones in the lawn

Is your lawn is the link between one area of your garden to another?

If so, you can often see the route you take to get there in the grass.

When you walk across the lawn on a regular basis, the soil gets compacted. As it does, the grass becomes starved of the nutrients it needs. You’ll often see bald spots in those areas.

Installing stepping stones is a cheap and easy way to prevent this from happening.

In the image above, the stones also make it easy to work the borders without wrecking the edges of the lawn.

Always make sure you set stepping stones below the level of the grass. That last thing you want is to hit them with the blade of lawn mower. It’ll do neither of them any good!

6. Multiple Lawns Create Interest and Disguise Oddly-Shaped Garden

multiple lawn design

Why not split your large lawn up into multiple lawns?

This is a cool idea that will help you disguise an odd-shaped garden. It takes the eye away from the boundary and into different areas of interest.

To do this well, you’ll need to link your lawns together as they’ve done in the image above with a path and good planting.

7. Let Your Lawn Meander Through Your Garden

a meandering lawn

Create a relaxing and informal feel to your garden by letting your lawn meander from one area to another.

The works especially well in large gardens.

Make sure that any curves in the edging are free-flowing to make mowing the grass easy.

8. Keep it Family Friendly

a family lawn

If you have an active family with kids, make sure your lawn provides enough space for them to romp around on.

Also, let the grass grow a bit longer to give them a soft surface. Especially if your son like to spend his time drop kicking his little sister!

Keeping the grass a little longer will also give it the ability to recover from all that wear and tear.

Not all lawns need to be bowling green short!

And That, As They Say, Is That!

At the end of the day, a well-designed lawn is one the works for you, and your lifestyle. At the same time, it should be easy to maintain.

You can be as simple or as complicated as you want but the main goal is to keep it as easy to look after as possible.

Some websites feature some crazy designs which, granted, they do look nice. But f!*k me, keeping them looking good would be a massive pain in the ass.

So as the old saying goes…

‘Keep it simple, silly!’

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