Groundcovers You Can Step On

Turkish Speedwell (Veronica liwanensis) is a showy, low-maintenance groundcover that easily acts as a crack-filler, delighting any path with beautiful blue blooms.Turkish Speedwell (Veronica liwanensis) is a showy, low-maintenance groundcover that easily acts as a crack-filler, delighting any path with beautiful blue blooms.

By David Salman, Chief Horticulturist

Groundcovers are some of our most versatile and easy-to-grow perennials. Like a well-designed house with floors covered by nice rugs and carpeting, the garden is more beautiful when we use groundcovers to cover bare ground. As the movement encouraging no-lawn landscapes gains momentum, groundcovers take center stage as an alternative to traditional grass lawns. Knowing and understanding the tolerance that different groundcover plants have to foot traffic is a key element in deciding which plants are right for your needs.

To Step or Not To Step

Groundcovers are usually defined as plants that spread much wider than they are tall. They are typically low-growing plants that have stems that root, creating a spreading carpet of stems and leaves as they grow. How a given groundcover holds up underfoot is a key consideration when choosing which ones to plant, though even the toughest grass will be worn down by constant foot - or paw - traffic. I always recommend putting down stepping stones, flagstone, or slate pieces to provide a hard surface where there are paths in your yard, and interplanting with groundcovers that have better durability underfoot.

Remember, not every area of your yard needs groundcovers that tolerate being walked on. Before redoing any area, study where the paths are, and use the most traffic-tolerant groundcovers to surround the stepping stones. Elsewhere, being able to tolerate footsteps is much less important. 

Read on to find our ratings for the most and least durable groundcover plants. 

Creeping Gold Buttons (Cotula Tiffindel Gold) is a beautiful, drought-resistant alternative lawn subsitute, which requires very low-care. A High Country Gardens Introduction.Creeping Gold Buttons (Cotula Tiffindel Gold) is a beautiful, drought-resistant alternative lawn subsitute, which requires very low-care. A High Country Gardens Introduction.
Creeping Gold Buttons (Cotula Tiffindel Gold) is a beautiful, drought-resistant alternative lawn subsitute, which requires very low-care. A High Country Gardens Introduction.
Thyme Leaf Speedwell (Veronica oltensis) is quick growing, durable, and easily a garden favorite when it comes to groundcovers you can step on.Thyme Leaf Speedwell (Veronica oltensis) is quick growing, durable, and easily a garden favorite when it comes to groundcovers you can step on.
Thyme Leaf Speedwell (Veronica oltensis) is quick growing, durable, and easily a garden favorite when it comes to groundcovers you can step on.

Not Durable

Best For Flower Beds And Borders Where They Will Not Be Stepped On

*These groundcovers are the fastest growing varieties (You might even call them "galloping groundcovers")

White Nancy Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) is the perfect groundcover for a shady area and takes moderate foot traffic.White Nancy Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) is the perfect groundcover for a shady area and takes moderate foot traffic.
White Nancy Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum) is the perfect groundcover for a shady area and takes moderate foot traffic.
If you have an area that needs to be filled, but no foot traffic, Creeping Hummingbird Trumpet Fire Chalice (Zauschneria garrettii Orange Carpet®) is the quintessential, dramatic groundcover for you.If you have an area that needs to be filled, but no foot traffic, Creeping Hummingbird Trumpet Fire Chalice (Zauschneria garrettii Orange Carpet®) is the quintessential, dramatic groundcover for you.
If you have an area that needs to be filled, but no foot traffic, Creeping Hummingbird Trumpet Fire Chalice (Zauschneria garrettii Orange Carpet®) is the quintessential, dramatic groundcover for you.

Groundcover Maintenance

Groundcovers are some of our best low care perennials.

Deadheading: Keep them looking their best by "deadheading" them when they finish blooming. This can be done by hand with hedge trimmers or with a lawnmower adjusted to a higher setting. It just needs to be done once per season.

Fertilizing: Groundcovers growing in healthy living soil will be the most resilient, so apply a mix of Yum Yum Mix, compost or earthworm castings, and granular molasses broadcast over the foliage and watered in. Do this in mid- to late fall (or mid-spring if you forget in the fall).

Shop Groundcovers

Text By David Salman

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