Yards with no grass: See how these South Buffalo gardeners did it

grassless front yard in South Buffalo NY
A stone path curves through the front yard of Paul and Paula Moloney in South Buffalo. Surprise! There is no grass. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Paul and Paula Moloney have lived in their house on Tuscarora Road in South Buffalo for less than three years, but they have transformed their landscaping by taking one thing out.


There’s no grass in the front yard. No grass in the back, either.

“We both hate lawns,” Paul said, “and I don’t like mowing lawns. I never have luck with lawns; they always looked like crap.”

garden with window box in South Buffalo
This area nearest the house already had plants, but the Moloneys replaced many of those plants with their own choices. The hostas were already there but have grown larger in the last three years. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
grassless front yard in South Buffalo NY
The garden behind the path was established first and is fuller than the bed in front. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

The couple started with the garden area nearest the house, which already had garden plants. They pulled out plants they didn’t care for and planted other things, including a witch-hazel shrub.

“There’s a lot of stuff that we don’t know the names for,” Paul said. “We were just trying stuff. And some things didn’t work.”

His suggestion for other gardeners is to come up with a design plan.

“We were just winging it,” he said. “Go to garden walks, see what you like and see what plants works. If something doesn’t work, move it, based on your light conditions.”

small stones stacked in garden in South Buffalo
Small, stacked stones are a charming feature in the newer bed in the front garden. It fills in some space, too. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

Last year they put in the path as well as the bed that is closer to the sidewalk.

“Once the front fills in, it should look nice,” Paul said.

The redbud tree in that bed was planted the first year the Moloneys moved in. The spring-flowering tree “is pretty when it buds,” he said. “We like trees.”

The backyard is also grassless. The seating area, covered with paving stones, is circled by garden beds.

A fun feature of the backyard is a fireplace grate that, using electricity, can glow at night.

Tip: When the Moloneys moved in, they worked with an electrician to put electrical outlets outside. Since they hadn’t placed the large paving stones yet, they were able to have the wiring easily installed in the ground.

The next project will be their hellstrip, the area between the street and sidewalk, where the City of Buffalo is going to plant a tree. Then the Moloneys will place a few pavers where they will set the garbage and recycling cans. It will also allow people to step out when they park on the street. Don’t expect grass.

“There will likely be a lot of ground cover there,” Paul said.

chairs on large stone pavers in grassless backyard in South Buffalo
Electrical wiring was installed before the stone pavers were placed in the now grassless backyard. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
fireplace grate as decoration in garden in South Buffalo
A fireplace grate is one of the ornaments in the gardens that circle the backyard. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

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