For some people a perfect area of closely mown grass is the height of their ambition while others may be attracted by the prospect of a ground cover that consumes less water and needs little maintenance. One of the qualities of grass that few other plants can equal is its ability to withstand feet, but here are six ground covers that are walkable. This article by Lauren Dunec Hoang which comes from the Houzz website describes these six plants.
A ground cover plant that can replace a traditional lawn grass often has to satisfy a wide range of criteria. Primarily, the plant must be walkable: It has to be very resilient, able to recover quickly from being trodden upon and also have a flat, low-growing habit ? ideally without large clumps or twiggy branches. For lawn replacements or anything planted in large swaths, in a dry climate, we?re also looking for a ground cover that thrives in low-water conditions. Plus, we?d like it to be generally low-maintenance and look good year-round.
While it?s tough to find many plants that fit every criterion on our list, the following six score high marks in almost all of those categories. They?re low-water, walkable ground covers that are friendly to feet and the environment.Gardeners in mild climates can plant ground covers now so they can establish over winter and be ready to spring into growth in the new year. In cold-winter climates, gardeners should plan now and wait until spring to plant.
1. Creeping Thyme
(Thymus pseudolanuginosus and T. serpyllum)
Native to Europe and North Africa
Useful as a lawn replacement and planted between pavers, creeping thyme is a very versatile, walkable ground cover that grows to about 4 inches tall. ?Elfin? thyme is one of the lowest-growing varieties (staying below 2 inches) but doesn?t spread to form a mat as quickly as woolly thyme (T. pseudolanuginosus). When crushed, thyme leaves give off a pleasant herbal scent.
Walkability: All thyme varieties tolerate moderate food traffic, but those with a silvery, fuzzy appearance like woolly thyme (T. pseudolanuginosus) are the toughest and often stay fairly flat, rather than forming mounds.2. Sanddune Sedge
Native to California and western North AmericaCarex are the most widely used for lawn replacement, largely because they look like traditional turf but take far less water and maintenance (mowing is optional). This sedge grows in clumps about 6 to 8 inches tall if left unmown. It can be kept shorter if mowed four to eight times a year, depending on desired look.
Because of its mounding growth habit, sanddune sedge shouldn?t be planted between pavers where it?s difficult to mow, and clumps can swallow stepping stones before long. Of all the walkable ground covers, it?s one of the toughest in terms of foot traffic and, when mowed low, can be used in parking strips.
Walkability: Very tolerant of heavy foot traffic once established, but its clumping growth habit doesn?t make it a smooth surface for a stroll or kicking around a soccer ball. For the look and height of a traditional lawn, mow once a month in the warm season, less in winter. Sanddune sedge planted in light shade is less trample-proof than when planted in full sun.