Many people find that caring for a large lawn takes too much time and effort. By shrinking the lawn, you can also reduce lawn maintenance. Here's a list of groundcovers that make a good alternative to grass.
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Creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) is one of the more common groundcovers used in sunny areas. The cultivar 'Prince of Wales' is low-growing and turns a burgundy color in the fall. 'Bar Harbor' is also low-growing. It will cascade over rock walls and take foot traffic if necessary. 'Icy Blue' is an improvement over 'Blue Mat' because it doesn't become bald in the center. All junipers require full sun or light shade. Most are slow growing and require good drainage.
Daylilies are versatile, easy-care perennials that can be grown as groundcovers. They require full sun and aren't fussy about soil. These hardy plants should be divided, as needed, in fall or early spring. Feed spring and fall with a balanced fertilizer.
Tiarella is a shade-loving perennial often used in rock gardens. It makes an attractive groundcover but won't withstand foot traffic. Tiarella bears racemes of fluffy blooms, and the foliage of some varieties colors attractively in fall. The plants spread by rhizomes.
Ivy (Hedera), a perennial, has no special growing requirements except protection from hot sun. It thrives in poor soil conditions. Because of its tendency to take over, it must be prevented from growing into trees. Plants should be spaced 12" apart.
Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon' is a moisture-loving perennial that grows in sun or shade and spreads from rhizomes. The leaves resemble English ivy but are multicolored in hues of green, pale yellow and red. Plants may spread aggressively. 'Chameleon' grows 6" to 12" tall, and plants should be spaced 24" apart.
Ajuga is a low-growing perennial that requires full sun or partial shade. Blue flowers are borne on spikes in spring or early summer, and several varieties have attractive variegated foliage.
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