What are Some Alternatives to Grass?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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There are a number of alternatives to grass for the lawn and garden, and many of them are probably available at your local garden store. It is well worth considering these alternatives, as many are far easier to care for than grass, in addition to being more environmentally friendly. This article focuses on grass alternatives, which can be used like lawns, allowing you to have a lawn for recreation and walking pleasure. You can also pursue alternatives to grass which will change the nature of the space, turning it into an ornamental feature rather than a functional one, should you so choose.

Before exploring the alternatives to grass, it might help to know why grass is objectionable to some people. Grass first caught on in Europe in the Middle Ages, when large greens were a sign of status, and it hasn't gone out of fashion since. However, is is extremely hard to maintain a grass lawn. Grass requires a lot of water, constant trimming, and some sort of weed management, or it will quickly grow unkempt. In areas with drought conditions, a grass lawn can eat up a lot of water, and people who want to pursue more natural gardening routes may also want to consider grass alternatives.


One of the best alternatives to grass is a native groundcover. You can get some ideas by taking nature walks in your area, and looking at which groundcovers are walkable. Perhaps the best such example is moss, which grows abundantly all over the world. Many mosses are very pleasant to walk on, with a soft, springy texture, and they will stay green all year. Moss is best suited to shade gardening, as it needs to stay moist and cool.

You can also look into herbal groundcovers like creeping thyme and Corsican mint. These groundcovers will quickly creep across the area, covering it thoroughly with a rich living carpet of greenery, and they also smell delicious when you walk on them. These groundcovers are great alternatives because they stay low to the ground, requiring no mowing, and they will develop a dense, matted texture which feels very pleasant on bare feet. Clover is another good alternative.

Your local garden store may have some additional suggestions. If you don't mind losing the ability to walk on the space, there are a number of groundcover options available to you, and you could add stepping stones or a gravel path for navigation. You could also replace a grass lawn with a rock garden, taking advantage of the principles of xeriscaping by inserting a few drought tolerant plants, and you might also want to consider planting flower beds, bushes, and grasses to create a textured landscape instead of a flat grass lawn.


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Post 3

@Rotergirl: That sounds like a good idea. Thanks! I really need something for that bare dirt patch. I also want to get some stepping stones so we don't slide in the mud after a rain because, naturally, the driveway is on that side.

Post 2

@Lostnfound: You might also think about vinca as a ground cover. It does really well in the shade. My mom had vinca along the side of the house and covering a stump in her yard. It produces these pretty lavender flowers and has dark green leaves. It's a really nice look for a yard, especially close to the house and around trees and so forth.

Post 1

Part of my yard is so shady, the only thing that will grow is moss. Right now, it's mostly dirt and I need to get some nice moss that will grow underneath all that shade. It looks crappy in the summer to have half the yard grassy and the other half looking like a neglected chicken yard.

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