If you crave the open look of a lush lawn, low-growing groundcovers may be your best alternative. TOH
landscape contractor Roger Cook warns that many low-growing groundcovers are sold as small plants, and establishing them over a large area can be costly. So he often uses higher-growing groundcovers along the edges or creates a patchwork quilt that mixes high-growing types (such as sweet woodruff, or Galium odoratum
, and ferns) with low growers. He favors bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
) on sandy sites and junipers in sunny spots; where it's okay for plants to die back in winter, he often plants hostas.
Foot-traffic-friendly groundcovers that compete well with weeds and stay relatively short without mowing include mat-forming creeping thyme, grasslike blue sedge (Carex glauca
), and mounding moss phlox (a good choice on hillsides where mowing is difficult). The Plant Info section at Stepables
includes a feature to help you find suitable species according to the amount of foot traffic they will get (and accounts for sun and water needs, as well). With a little searching, you can find a spreading groundcover that gives you the kind of green space that appeals to your sense of style, makes fewer demands on your time—and is easier on the earth.