Trade in turf for groundcovers that bring low-maintenance beauty to landscapes.
By Julie A. MartensMore in Outdoors
Lawn alternative plants have varying degrees of durability. Many alternatives can withstand light foot traffic, and a few can stand up to regular foot steps. Depending on where you’re replacing lawn, if you create a path through the groundcover with steppers (as seen below), you won’t have to worry about durability issues.
In regions with harsh winters, take into consideration how your lawn alternative will look during dormancy. Will plants provide any color, or do stems become bare and empty? Can foliage retain some hue during winter, or will it fade to a pale shade? Some lawn alternatives are evergreen and offer color during winter months. Others are perennials that die to the ground.
Lawns planted with more than turf typically attract more wildlife, including birds, beneficial insects and butterflies. If you intend to use your non-turf area for barefoot activities, keep in mind that flowering groundcovers will attract stinging insects. It’s a good idea to avoid using these types of plants around swimming pools or children’s play areas.
As you work to establish plants in the landscape, don’t overlook weeding and watering during the first year of growth. Follow planting instructions carefully to ensure plants develop deep roots, which will help them survive drought in future years. It’s also a good idea to cover soil with several sheets of newspaper when planting groundcovers. Tuck plants into soil by planting directly through the paper. Place two inches of mulch over the paper to reduce sprouting weeds until groundcovers establish.
A narrow, shady side yard with minimal foot traffic is the perfect place to grow Corsican mint (Mentha requienii). Add stepping stones to guide feet and protect your groundcover investment.