image Jeannine Young
Always a bit tricky this aspect of judging.
Lawn is fairly easy to assess, it should be neatly presented – mown (but not just before the judge walks through your gate), edges trimmed and be in excellent health (see image above of a very well presented lawn).
Substitute is a little bit difficult as usually gravel or other mulches or hard surfaces aren’t prone to pests and diseases like lawn and nor does it need to be neatly trimmed. What this substitute should be is free from weeds, neatly racked/swept and be in harmony with the rest of your garden. Hard mulches are absolutely stunning in a cactus/succulent garden as those plants in their natural environment usually do not have swathes of green grass growing with them.