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 acts as a crack-filler, delighting 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. And as the movement encouraging lawn-less landscapes gains momentum, groundcovers take center stage as lawn grasses are removed. Knowing and understanding their tolerance to foot traffic is a key element in deciding what are the right groundcovers for your needs.

To Step or Not Step

Groundcovers are usually defined as plants that spread much wider than they are tall. And they are typically 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. But even the toughest grass will be worn down by constant foot (paw) traffic. So 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.

Levels of Traffic Tolerance

As you might suspect some groundcovers wear better under foot than others. Complete list below.

Exclusive to High Country Gardens, Creeping Gold Buttons (Cotula Tiffindel Gold) is a beautiful, drought-resistant alternative lawn subsitute, which requires very low-care.
Exclusive to High Country Gardens, Creeping Gold Buttons (Cotula Tiffindel Gold) is a beautiful, drought-resistant alternative lawn subsitute, which requires very low-care.
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.
White Nancy Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum White Nancy) is the perfect groundcover for a shady area and takes moderate foot traffic.
White Nancy Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum White Nancy) 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.

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. 

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).

Groundcovers | Alternative Lawns

Text and Photos By David Salman

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