Keeping a lush grass lawn can be a lot of work in some regions, especially in Northern California. Instead of dealing with all the necessities of keeping grass healthy throughout the year, you can consider a variety of different options instead.

These options will create the illusion of a lush lawn, but will have drastically lower maintenance requirements. If you hate mowing the lawn, dealing with fertilizer, or sticking to a strict watering schedule, consider some of these lawn alternatives for your Northern California property.

White Clover

Clover is one of the most popular alternatives to standard grass and is popular throughout the entire country. White clover is especially common in California for a variety of reasons, mostly due to its drought resistance and the fact that it can tolerate poor quality soil much better than typical grass lawns.

White clover can be seeded just as a typical lawn would be, and requires much less water to take a good root and get established. You also won’t need to deal with fertilizers which can be both costly and frustrating to get a full even coverage.


One of the more unique options available, this herb looks similar to a fern and can create a thick mat of leafy foliage over your yard. Yarrow is very drought resistant and can also be mowed to keep it thick and low, or left to grow and it may bloom with white flowers.

In California, Yarrow is desirable in many areas and can be easy to get established from seed. It doesn’t need much water at all to get started and is highly tolerant of regular foot traffic. While not commonly seen, Yarrow can be an excellent choice in Northern California.

Red Creeping Thyme

Red thyme can be a very unique looking coverage for your yard and it is much easier than typical grass. It is extremely dense and is good for low to medium levels of foot traffic. Thyme is green almost year round, and in the colder months it takes on a deep bronze coloration.

For an extremely low maintenance alternative to standard grass such as bluegrass or fescue, red thyme is a great choice. When it comes to long term upkeep, it requires very low amounts of watering which makes it a superb choice for desert conditions or drought areas.

Ornamental Grass

While not a proper option for yard coverage, ornamental grasses grow in clumps and can add eye appeal to your property while also helping to reduce the amount of lawn you need to maintain. Various types of large ornamental grass can thrive in almost any type of soil from sandy or clay, to loam and moss.

While ornamental grasses cannot be walked on, they can grow large and attractive. Most ornamental grasses are also highly resistant to pests and disease, as well as root fungus making them perfect for areas where fungus has been known to attack sod or other grass seeds.