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. 

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