Although grass may be the go-to greenery for most people's front lawns, many are starting to warm up to the idea of using groundcovers in its place. Why? Not only do groundcovers tend to be lower maintenance than grass, but they also require less water and create a higher level of visual interest in outdoor spaces. If you’re sick of mowing, watering, and just dealing with your lawn in general, it may be time to consider switching it out for some groundcover. Here are a few of our favorite grass alternatives:
Groundcovers to Consider
Sedums only grow to be a few inches tall. However, these sun-loving plants boast small, colorful blossoms that attract birds and beneficial insects. Even the foliage comes in a variety of colors, including blue, gold, gray, and burgundy. In addition to being drought-tolerant, this perennial plant also tends to spread rather quickly.
Creeping phlox is a slow-growing perennial groundcover that grows to nearly eight inches tall and produces flowers in a variety of shades, including purple, pink, white, and red. A single plant may even produce two of these colors at the same time. They grow best in full sun and well-drained soil, but they will usually tolerate moist soil as well. Like sedum flowers, phlox flowers will also attract birds and beneficial insects to your yard.
Hens-and-chicks are small succulent plants that resemble flowers and thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. These plants grow less than six inches tall and spread out about a foot wide. They send up pink and/or yellow flowers, but their foliage tends to stay green, gold, or burgundy. Hens-and-chicks have been known to grow well with a variety of other plants, including sedum.
Thyme is more than just an herb — it can also be used as a fragrant groundcover. Growing less than a foot tall, thyme does best in full sun and well-drained soil. The best part? In the spring and summer, you'll be able to enjoy a carpet of pink, blue, and/or white flowers, all of which attract birds and beneficial insects. Since thyme is also drought-tolerant, you won’t need to water it as much during the hot summer months. Try varieties like Spicy Orange, Elfin, and Bressingham.
Sweet woodruff is another fragrant plant that can be used to create a floral carpet on your lawn. Sprouting up to a foot tall, it tends to grow well in clumps, in full to partial shade, and in well-drained soil. To top it all off, it’ll also add a sweet scent to your property.
Why Grow Groundcover Instead of Grass?
Not sure about growing groundcover? Perhaps these benefits will change your mind.
They Save Resources
Replacing grass with groundcover will not only help you reduce your monthly water bill, but it will also give more time to do the things love. Lawn maintenance — mowing, edging, fertilizing, filling in bare spots — can take up a lot of time, especially during the summer months. Groundcover requires less attention once established and does more to help your property stand out.
They're Good for the Environment
Grass may look green, but it’s not very “green” when you consider the herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals that go into making it appear green all year long. In addition to providing a more natural look, groundcovers attract beneficial pollinators to your home. A few particularly fragrant groundcovers have even been known to keep deer away.
They Keep Weeds at Bay
Since most groundcovers grow rather quickly, they may be able to outpace weeds and prevent them from taking over the garden. While you may need to pull the occasional weed or two here and there, groundcovers do a much better job than traditional grass at keeping weeds away.
Things to Keep in Mind Before You Plant
Whatever you decide plant, it’s important to keep the following in mind:
Is the Plant Invasive?
Although fast growth is ideal in a grass alternative, plants that grow fast can sometimes grow too much and become invasive. If a particular plant is considered invasive in your area, you'll have to find a way to contain it so that it doesn’t take over.
Keep Weeds at Bay Until the Groundcover is Well-Established
If you’ve already pulled up a section of grass, consider installing a weed barrier over it before planting the groundcover. Add mulch to increase your chances of keeping weeds away.
Regular Watering in the Beginning
While most groundcovers tend to be drought-tolerant, they will still need regular watering during their first year until they’ve become established.
Are You Allowed to Pull Up Your Lawn?
Many Homeowners' Associations have rules regarding lawns and lawncare. Review these rules to ensure your plans are compliant. Keep in mind that you may be faced with fines if your plans don’t comply.
Have You Considered Other Groundcovers?
These may include mulch, gravel, or even turf. Groundcovers may be low-maintenance, but they’re not “no-maintenance.” If you want a no-maintenance lawn, consider other options aside from living plants. For example, gravel often looks great, especially when you throw a few potted plants into the mix. If you still like the look of grass but hate the maintenance, consider turf.