Groundcover alternatives to combat chafer beetles

Credit: Flickr / mmwm


Q: Help! Since the chafer beetle reached our neighbourhood, our lawn has been a disaster—what groundcover can we plant to replace it?

Moss, weeds, thatch and now chafer beetle all offer good reasons to switch the green lawn patch to a green groundcover patch, particularly if you’re dealing with a small space.

The female chafer beetle particularly likes the lawn as a place to deposit eggs as it’s a favourable host for larvae through to their emergence the following year as an adult. Here are four chafer-resistant alternatives to a lawn, offering flowers, colour and fragrance without sacrificing the option of light foot traffic:

Brass buttons (Leptinella squalida): My favourite is the bronze-leaved variety Platt’s black. Dark green is also available. This is probably the lowest growing (maximum of 5 cm/ 2 in.) of all of my recommendations and the best groundcover for areas with heavy foot traffic. Brass buttons bloom June through July with either yellow or white blossoms and tolerate sun to part shade. Hardy to zone 5.

Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus): Another beautiful creeping groundcover with masses of hairy green miniature leaves (pictured above), sometimes also featuring an abundance of pink blossoms that bloom in June and July. Grows to a maximum of 5 cm (2 in.) and prefers poor, dry, rocky soil in a sunny location. When walked on, you’ll enjoy the herbal thyme fragrance but only light foot traffic is tolerated by this relatively fast growing deer-proof evergreen option. Hardy to zone 5.

Creeping chamomile or Roman chamomile (Chama-emelum nobile):
A popular herb that can handle light foot traffic, creeping chamomile grows 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in.) in preferred sun or part shade. The attractive ferny leaves move gently in a breeze and offer a light herbal fragrance. Enjoy white daisy-like flowers in June and July. Mow or shear after blooming. Hardy to zone 4.

Dutch white clover (Trifolium repens): White clover—yes, just like the clover we try to eliminate from our lawns—is normally sown by seed so a large area can be planted very affordably. It is relatively low growing at 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in.) and can tolerate light foot traffic. Dutch white clover grows well in shade or full sun, is drought tolerant and stays green through the hottest part of the summer. However, the white ball-shaped blossoms above the leaves that are present May through September unfortunately attract bees. Hardy to zone 4.