Groundcovers You Can Step On

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

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 lawn-less 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 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 under foot 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.

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

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 your forget in the fall).

Text and Photos By David Salman

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Shop Groundcovers | Alternative Lawns

  1. Low Work and Water Dwarf Fescue Grass Seed close up

    Our 'Low Work and Water' Dwarf Fescue Lawn Seed Mix will create the ideal low water, low maintenance, low-growing turf grass for yards and play areas. Enjoy the beauty and benefits o...

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    As low as $34.95
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  2. Gazania linearis Colorado Gold, Photo by David Staats

    Gazania Colorado Gold® (Colorado Gold® Treasure Flower) is a long-blooming, cold hardy perennial that covers itself with bright-yellow daisy-type flowers....

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  3. Saponaria ocymoides, Soapwart Photo Courtesy of Walter's Gardens Inc.

    4-5" x 15-18" wide. This Old World wildflower is an outstanding groundcover for sun and part sun areas. It blooms in late spring with a profusion of bright pink, pollinator attractin...

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    Saponaria ocymoides Rock Soapwort Saponaria ocymoides
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    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
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  4. Pterocephalus depressus, Pink Carpeting Pincushion Flower

    Carpeting Pincushion flower is a fantastic groundcover new to cultivation. It blooms beginning in late spring with huge mauve-pink flowers that sit right ontop of the plant's crinkl...

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    Carpeting Pincushion Flower (Pterocephalus) Carpeting Pincushion Flower Pterocephalus depressus
    As low as $10.99 Sale $8.24
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    Carpeting Pincushion flower is a fantastic groundcover new to cultivation. It blooms beginning in late spring with huge mauve-pink flowers that sit right ontop of the plant's crinkled evergreen foliage. Closely related to Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower). Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
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  5. Cerastium tomentosum, Jumbo Snow-in-Summer

    This jumbo snow-in-summer has large stems and leaves and was discovered growing in a Santa Fe, NM. Its larger size and vigor make it an excellent lawn substitute, producing a carpet ...

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    Sale Price I Save 25%
    $8.99 Sale $6.74
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    This jumbo snow-in-summer has large stems and leaves and was discovered growing in a Santa Fe, NM. Its larger size and vigor make it an excellent lawn substitute, producing a carpet of white blooms in late spring. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric). 4-5" x 15-18" wide.
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  6. Photo Courtesy of PlantMaster.com

    Thymus Reiter (Reiter Creeping Thyme) is one of the most vigorous creeping thymes with its stems of olive-green foliage rooting as they spread across the soil. Blooming in mid-summer...

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  7. Prunella grandiflora Bella Blue, Self-Heal Bella Blue

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    Sale Price I Save 25%
    $8.99 Sale $6.74
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  8. Red and Orange Delosperma Red Mountain® Flame, Delosperma x PWWG0S, Red Mountainand Flame Cold Hardy Ice Plant

    Delosperma Red Mountain® Flame is a tough, vigorous cold hardy Ice Plant with large blazing orange-red flowers in late spring and early summer. Delosperma Red Mountain Flame Ice ...

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