Less lawn can result in outdoor living spaces that demand less of your time and energy—not to mention less water, gas, and electricity. Fall's cooler temperatures make now a good time to set the wheels in motion for a new and improved yard.
Less-lawn solution: If you live where every house flaunts an immaculate, weed-free front lawn, giving up grass entirely might read as an act of rebellion. But you can gradually shift toward a front yard that's more garden than lawn by establishing deep planting beds that curve along the front and sides of the house.
Experiment with designs by laying out garden hose in a gentle curve, then bring out the mower and test to make sure that whatever lawn remains takes a shape that's easy to trim. If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, also factor in the area that individual sprinkler heads spray: Plug heads you don't need, or convert them to supply a water-efficient drip irrigation system for the new planting beds. Your yard will be lushly planted—and easy to maintain—if you add wide borders with low-care perennials and shrubs to the mix.