A front yard is for the neighbourhood, but a backyard is for your own amusements. If your backyard is a grass-free zone, or if you want to make it one, you have a lot options to use the space. With a little imagination, even small backyards can be transformed into personal spaces that meet the needs of you and your family.
Vegetable or Herb Garden
Instead of growing grass, try vegetables. You can grow veggies most anywhere, including in raised beds, pots or just in the ground. Check with a local nursery or garden club for planting schedules and varieties that are hardy for your zone. If the backyard is very sunny, try planting an herb garden. Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, rosemary and sage thrive in less-than-ideal conditions, so they are good choices for rocky, well-drained soil.
Children at Play
If you want to nudge your children away from television or video games, a backyard playground can help. Depending on your climate and their ages, you can transform a backyard into a play-scape with a sandpit, swings, a jungle gym, basketball court or seasonal hockey rink. Or encourage them to study nature with a fish pond or bird feeders.
Deck or Patio
Consider your backyard an extension of your living space with a deck or patio. You can add to an existing patio or design a new space. Add some outdoor furniture, a built-in barbecue and a fire-pit and you have a place to entertain. For quieter pursuits, consider a screened-in porch with ceiling fans and comfortable wicker chairs.
If you stop encouraging grass, you can help native flora and fauna find a home in your backyard. The Garden for Wildlife program of the National Wildlife Federation provides instructions for creating a backyard that attracts wildlife and restores habitats in urban locations.