The lawn is one of the most visible elements of urban green spaces. China, as one of the latest adopters of lawns, has seen a dramatic increase in yearly planted lawn area. However, there is an urgent need for sustainable lawn alternatives in China due to potential threats to the urban environment from intensive maintenance and cultural inadequacy of lawns. This study aims to explore how stakeholders and park visitors relate to lawns and how this affects their decisions in designing, managing and interacting with lawns and lawn alternatives in China by using Xi'an as a case study city. The study uses face-to-face interviews with stakeholders and questionnaires with park visitors as well as observational studies of people's activity on park lawns. Results show that park lawns in Xi'an are subject to high maintenance compared with some European cities and people have limited access to them. Lawn activities differ from western countries due to cultural reasons. The lawn is valued for its ecological and aesthetical values but least appreciated as important places for outdoor activities. Recognition of various functions of lawns, western influences and unavailability of sustainable alternatives are reasons of increasing use of conventional lawns. Physical factors, cultural preferences, limited maintenance budget, local policies, biodiversity-oriented attitudes and unsuitability of current lawn alternatives are factors favouring the search of sustainable lawn alternatives. Park visitors like lawns because of their neatness and green colour, meanwhile they appreciate groundcovers with bright colourful flowers. The establishment of biodiverse lawn alternatives is not welcomed in urban areas but can be accepted in districts with ecological visions, wetland parks and suburban areas. Our findings might lessen the knowledge gaps among decision makers, park visitors and researchers regarding lawns. This study contributes to the knowledge of policy making and planning of sustainable green spaces from region, city to park levels.