Low-maintenance Ground Covers Instead of Grass

Skip the labour-intensive grass lawn and opt instead for an easy-care, sustainable ground cover

Choosing to cover a bare area in the backyard with grass is the easy option—but it’s not your only choice

Maintaining a lawn requires regular care, weeding and fertilizing. Alternatively, a carefully selected ground cover requires little upkeep and reduces the impact on the environment.

Here are some ground covers to consider for your garden…

Don’t know your Climate Zone? Check here

Vinca minor (Periwinkle)

  • Popular groundcover
  • Rapid spreading once established
  • Evergreen
  • Soft foliage
  • Attractive purple flowers
  • Dependable for sun or part shade
  • Possible lawn substitute for visual areas
  • Hardy to Zone 4

Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese pachysandra)

  • Good for tough areas
  • Lush evergreen foliage
  • Creamy white flowers in spring
  • Good solid ground cover
  • Moderately slow to fill out
  • Possible lawn substitute for visual areas
  • Hardy to Zone 4

Trifolium repens (white Dutch clover)

  • Grows well in areas with clay subsoil
  • Low growing (4-8” high)
  • Stays green through drought periods
  • Attracts beneficial insects
  • Be wary of bee allergies
  • Will tolerate mowing
  • Hardy to Zone 4

Gaultheria shallon (Salal)

  • Native evergreen groundcover
  • Full lush foliage
  • Medium growing up to 1m
  • Good as small accent groundcover
  • Good for large areas
  • Can be aggressive when established
  • Drought tolerant
  • Edible berries
  • Hardy to Zone 6

Arenaria balearica (Corsican sandwort)

  • Fine textured 2” high
  • Thick mat of bright green leaves
  • Small flowers in mid to late spring
  • Very hardy
  • Adaptable to shady places
  • Possible lawn substitute for low
  • traffic or between pavers
  • Hardy to Zone 4

Sedum acre ‘Aureum’ (golden stonecrop)

  • Vigorous and spreading
  • Ground hugging carpet
  • Bright golden leaves in spring
  • Yellow flowers June to August
  • Drought tolerant
  • Possible lawn alternative for large spaces
  • Hardy to Zone 4