Low maintenance ground cover
If you’re looking for an alternative, consider replacing some or all of your high-maintenance turf with ground covers that form walkable “carpets, ” and innovative grasses that require little or no water or mowing once established.
In turn, you’ll reduce the need for irrigation, stop washing harmful chemicals into the watershed, add depth and texture to your landscape, and spend your spare time enjoying your yard instead of manicuring it.
Creeping Perennials, Clover, and Other Ground Covers
There’s a ground cover to meet most needs, whether you’re planting a pathway, a hedge, or a broad swath of green. They run the gamut of foliage textures and colors, and many have wonderful flowers. Some varieties are ground-hugging and feel delicious under bare feet. Others grow up to two feet tall, making them ideal as barriers or landscape punctuation.
Look for attributes that meet your needs: child-durable, deer-resistant, drought-tolerant, shade-loving. Mixing them up is not only aesthetically pleasing, it’s also good for the landscape: Diversity increases resistance to pests and disease and reduces the need for fertilizer and pesticides. Here are some popular choices.
Creeping perennials: Tight to the ground, these plants are especially good for cushy green carpets. They keep out weeds and allow air, water, and nutrients to get to plant roots. Many work equally well in rock gardens or in crevices between stepping stones, in full or partial sun. These include mat-forming New Zealand Brass Buttons (Cotula squalida) and Scotch or Irish Moss (Sagina subulata), which isn’t a moss at all but a perennial that forms a cushiony blooming carpet.
Some, like Blue Star Creeper (Laurentia fluviatilis), which has tiny green foliage, bear up to heavy foot traffic. Creeping Jenny (Convolvulus arvensis) has an extensive root system that makes it quick to spread and tough to kill. That’s a good thing if you’re looking for a tough turf alternative but a problem if it creeps into beds where you don’t want it.