As an alternative to a traditional lawn, Rene Mettler planted a living mosaic among the flagstones in the courtyard fronting his 200-year-old adobe home in Taos, New Mexico.
Mettler leveled the area, spread 3 inches of sand on top of the existing soil, then set the flagstones securely in the sand in a random pattern, leaving bare seams of at least 2 inches between the stones.
He filled the seams with topsoil, sowed grass seed in them, and watered daily until the seed germinated. Once the grass was well established, he cut back to weekly watering. To keep the grass looking tidy, Mettler runs a lawnmower over it once a month.
To try something similar, use a drought-tolerant grass such as blue grama ( Bouteloua gracilis 'Hachita'), which does well in either sandy or clay soil. You can sow this fast-germinating seed in early fall (until six weeks before the first heavy frost) or wait until spring. As an alternative to seed, grass plugs can be planted in the cracks at 4-inch intervals. Blue grama turns straw-colored in its dormant winter state.
Another plant that grows well between paving stones is creeping thyme; try 'Ohme Garden Carpet' or 'Reiter'.
'Hachita' blue grama (seeds and plugs) and thyme (in 2½-inch pots) are available from High Country Gardens in Santa Fe (800/925-9387).