"Grass is near the palace."
Translation:Возле дворца трава.
The existence of both things are both known, otherwise it would be a question of there being a palace near the grass, if I understand from other lessons. Kind of like having a brother or sister, when stating as such it's confirming existence, but by having a relation of where both items are, i.e. near, they both are determined already.
Во́зле is a preposition and, together with a noun it modifies (дворца́), it constitutes an indivisible phrase. You could insert other words modifying the noun (e.g. возле краси́вого дворца́ 'near the beautiful palace'), but not completely unrelated words.
Sorry, yes, it's definitely a preposition! I'll need to fix my message. (Upd: fixed it)
«Возле трава дворца» would mean nothing, since во́зле requires genitive, and трава́ is nominative. It could work if there was a masculine noun тра́в (near the palace's трав), but we don't have such a noun.
I think this would mean «The grass is near the palace», but I’m not sure.
I could be wrong in my attempt to apply this elsewhere, but I found your word order explanation of something similar on another thread to be extremely helpful. It's still awkward for me but having that framework in which to think of it has been very useful.
Or, it doesn't apply here at all and I don't understand it as well as I think I do. That's entirely possible, likely even! Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken.
Thanks! This is applicable here.
Since the time I wrote that post I've found a description of word order in Rosenthal. Basically, it confirms my intuition about the old/new information (topic-comment relation), but there's another dimension to it: sometimes the word order is fixed.
An example of the fixed word order is the position of adjectives, I've decribed it here yesterday: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/11877095 — it has nothing to do with what's new information.