Alternatives to Grass

Consider these practical, low-maintenance alternatives to a traditional lawn.

Scented Steps

Scented Steps

When laying down paving, plant creeping mints and thymes in sunny crevices and gaps, where they will release scent when stepped on.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

When laying down paving, plant creeping mints and thymes in sunny crevices and gaps, where they will release scent when stepped on.

Groundcover Options 

In a sunny, well-drained garden, spread gravel 1 in (2.5 cm) deep over a geotextile membrane; this will suppress weeds and create a seaside mood. If you plan to lay down paving, it needn’t stay dull and gray. Leave out a slab here and there to make room for a small tree or low shrub, and plant small ferns or creeping Jenny in moist, shady cracks. Plants such as cyclamen, hellebores, or Vinca minor grow well under trees. 

Some, like lilyturf (Liriope) and ajuga, even put up with dry soil. Once they have settled they will take care of themselves, especially if you use mulch to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. 

While grass might not tolerate a very shady, damp area, this is the perfect environment for moss to establish; let it spread, don’t walk on it too often, and plant early-flowering bulbs like snowdrops (Galanthus) or lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). Cyclamen is quite happy growing in the shade cast by trees, providing ground cover and brightening up a shady spot. 

Keep Reading

Next Up

Ideas for Groundcover Alternatives to Grass

Discover alternatives to traditional grass with these creative groundcover landscaping ideas.

Choosing Groundcover Plants for Sun

Learn about groundcover plants that will thrive in sunlight and grow successfully in your lawn and garden spaces.

Choosing Groundcover Plants for Shade

Learn about groundcover plants that will thrive in shade and grow successfully in your lawn and garden spaces.

Alternatives to an Addition

Consider ways to maximize your home's existing space before building more square footage

Seek Cover: Grow Groundcover Plants

Use low-growing perennials and shrubs as groundcovers to cover slopes or to replace high-maintenance lawns.

How to Plant Grasses

The ideal time to plant grasses is during spring or fall when the grass is warm.

How to Grow Lemon Grass

Keep a pot of this easy-to-grow herb on a sunny windowsill, then harvest it fresh for Thai dishes or delicious teas.

How to Plant Ornamental Grasses

Make ornamental grasses a part of your garden with this planting guide.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.