Ground cover, hardscape, or clover -- anything but grass

Category:  Landscaping Ideas
Description:  If you love green grass but not the lawn, you might want to consider replacing with groundcover, rock, native plants, or all the above.
Author: Lori Beehner
Sunday, July 27, 2014

A lush green carpet of grass is cool and inviting -- if you are lucky enough to have the time, money, and energy to sink into caring for it -- but keeping it looking nice is a lot of work. If you are tired of the feeding, watering, cutting, aerating, reseeding, and fighting back the moss and dandelions, it might be time to consider a grass alternatives for your lawn.

In this blog, we have a few ideas for lawn and grass alternatives that do not require constant maintenance and weekly mowing such as groundcover, hardscapes, clover lawn, native plants, or a landscape design that integrates a combination of these.

Replace lawn with hardscapes

There are so many attractive and creative ways to use hardscapes in the landscape. A large grassy area could be converted into a patio, reflective pool, meandering brook, fountain, or pleasant walkways with cement or stone benches. Hardscape materials may require some maintenance/cleaning during the year, but far less work than a large lawn.

Replace lawn with ground cover

Not all ground covers are the same. Some are flat, thick, and hardy like moss plants. Others grow as high as a foot off the ground and have pretty flowers, such as Myrtle.

There are several ground covers that can take the place of grass; but first, here are a few important factors to consider if you are thinking about replacing a grass area or lawn with a ground cover alternative:

  • Planting ground cover does not mean you will eliminate weeds, especially in the early stages before the plant has filled-in. Although the plants will spread, you may want to plant your ground cover plants close together so to avoid as much weed growth as possible.
  • Some ground covers will tolerate foot traffic and others will not. Even ground covers that look like a green carpet and are meant for being walked on, may be overwhelmed by too much company. Create a walkway through areas that tend to receive a lot of direct traffic.
  • How quickly does the plant spread and will it need to have a border? You will want to answer this question before selecting the ground cover as this will affect your landscape design.
  • Is the area full sun or part shade? Most groundcovers like at least 6 hours of sun each day, but there are some that will grow in the shade. Keep a record of how much direct sun shines on the garden space at various times of the year, then plant accordingly.

If you are looking for a grass alternative that gives a similar appearance as grass, you may want to try your luck with a clover lawn. Some homeowners have replaced their grass lawn with a clover lawn because it is easier to grow, spreads nicely, and looks green all year.

It usually looks best to use a variety of hardscapes materials of different colors when designing a large area.

Combine ground cover and hardscapes in landscape design

If you put tufts of grass or groundcover in lattice patio bricks, you can create a combination of a lawn and patio. This can also be used as a walkway or driveway. It works well when the driveway is not steep; too steep and your car may not have enough traction when the surface is wet.

Another idea that we often use in our landscape design, is to plant Thyme between slabs of flagstone that has been set in sand. This give a natural look that fits nicely with the landscape design of many different home styles. It can tolerate foot traffic...and you can even clip some to use in cooking, if you choose.

Using a combination of ground cover and hardscape materials offers less maintenance than a full lawn, but still keeps the soft cool touch.

Using native plants as an alternative to grass

Native plants such as Salal and Kinnikinnick are excellent choices to use in a landscape design because they grow so well in this part of the country. If you are interested in switching to a clover lawn, this is also a native plant and should grow very well in most areas of a yard -- shade or sun.

Whether you choose to replace your green (or not-so-green) pasture with a hardscape, clover lawn or a combination of rock and ground covers, it will be a big job. We want you to know that we are here to help. Contact our office by phone, email, or request a consultation through our website. We want you to see green without having to work for it.

Share our services with your family and friends.