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Tired of mowing lawns and endless watering? Replace your grass with these top ground covers for a low-water alternative. 

Top  Ground Covers to Replace Lawn

Grass is a popular choice for ground cover adding greenery and a play space to your garden. Yet, many sought alternatives mainly as most low-growing ground covers can survive with little water and don’t require mowing. Some of these top ground covers will grow quickly and can be planted en masse or in between stone paving. Several can also tolerate moderate to heavy foot traffic once established.

If you’re planning on updating your outdoor space when the warming weather rolls around, consider one of these 6 top ground covers to replace your tired looking lawn.

1. Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

top ground covers
Creeping Thyme ground cover| Image source: Gardenia.net

Creeping Thyme is the ideal walkable woolly ground cover to replace lawn or plant in between your stone pavers. It’s quick to grow and is visually pleasing with its clusters of pinkish-purple flowers. When trodden on, T. serpyllum gives off a pleasant scent and attracts plenty of wildlife including butterflies and hummingbirds.

Creeping Thyme can grow to 3 inches tall and spreads up to 1 foot. It prefers full sun and is best grown in well-drained dry soil requiring low to moderate water. As a low-maintenance ground cover, it will only need cutting back to maintain your desired appearance.

2. Beach Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)

top ground covers
Beach Strawberry ground cover | Image source: plantmaster.com

Native to the North America West Coast, Beach Strawberry is an easy growing evergreen plant that will tolerate a moderate level of foot traffic. It’s not as soft and smooth to walk on like other Green Carpet, but springs back well to restore appearance.

In Spring, F. chiloensis will display white flowers and in summer, red berries that are edible. It can quickly spread up to 3 feet wide and grow up to 6 inches tall, however, can be mowed or trimmed in the spring to reduce the height. Beach Strawberry will establish itself in gardens of full sun to light shade and will tolerate moist to dry soil types.

3. Green Carpet (Herniaria Glabra)

top ground covers
Green Carpet ground cover| Image source: The Spruce

The vibrant green H. Glabra is a popular low growing ground cover that can effortlessly spread up to 2 feet. Soft to walk on, Green Carpet can tolerate a decent amount of foot traffic and is considered almost indestructible (perfect for those without a green thumb). It’s also extremely drought tolerant requiring little water thanks to it’s single, long tap root system.

In early summer, Green Carpet can grow lime-green or white flowers that are very small and inconspicuous. In the winter, the tiny green leaves change to a warm bronze colour adding seasonal interest to your garden. Best grown in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil. As a hardy ground cover, it should survive in nutritionally poor soils also.

4. Sanddune Sedge (Carex pansa)

top ground covers
Carex Pansa ground cover | Image source: plantbenefits.blogspot

A popular alternative for lawn is the Carex and loved for its wild, meadow-like aesthetic. Sanddune Sedge grows in clumps to about 8 inches tall but can be mown seasonally to achieve a traditional turf appearance. Unlike many of our other top ground covers listed, Carex isn’t suitable planted between stone steepers or used as a play area due to their mounding appearance. It is, however, very resilient against foot traffic once established.

The Sanddune Sedge will tolerate full sun to light shade and is drought-tolerant requiring very little water once matured.

5. ‘Emerald Carpet’ (Arctostaphylos)

top ground covers
Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’ | Image source: Green Acres Nursery

Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’ Manzanita is a drought-tolerant evergreen ground cover native to North America. The lush green foliage spreads up to 5 feet but never exceeding 14 inches tall. In spring, small white-pink flowers bloom with fruit that resembles little apples, attracting plenty of birds and butterflies.

While the Emerald Carpet rates very highly for its resilience against foot traffic, its uneven surface and shrub-like texture isn’t pleasant to walk on. Best suited planted in pathways positioned in full sun that only require occasional access.