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A lush grassy lawn has been the focal point of a well-kept garden for many years. However, lawns can be time-consuming and costly to maintain, leading many gardeners to want to replace their grass.

Growing alternative ground cover plants to replace grass can be a viable solution. Ground covers attract beneficial insects to your garden, reduce the need for excessive watering, and limit herbicide use.

If you have an area of lawn that fails to thrive or seems to need constant maintenance, consider planting one of these beautiful ground cover plants instead.

1. Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

Thyme creeping, pink chintz, green background of small inflorescences, background
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Creeping thyme is an excellent alternative to grass, forming a dense mat of lush green foliage that produces tiny, fragrant flowers all summer long. It tolerates drought and a high level of foot traffic and rarely needs mowing. This grass alternative is best suited to areas that have hot, dry summers.

To establish creeping thyme, plant young plugs spaced 6-12 inches apart in the spring or early fall. Mulch around the plants to suppress weeds and water regularly until the plants are well-established.

2. Irish Moss (Sagina subulata)

Sagina subulata
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Irish moss is the perfect grass replacement for areas with shady, moist soil. It forms a dense mossy carpet of tiny leaves and small white flowers. It stays green all year round and readily roots into gaps between stones and rocks.

Plant Irish moss in early spring or fall, spacing the plugs about 6 inches apart. Water regularly until well established, particularly during dry spells.

3. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)

Moneywort, Lysimachia nummularia, Goldilocks plants and yellow flowers lie on sundstone in the garden.
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If you want a grass replacement in a hurry, creeping Jenny is a great option. It grows rapidly and fills in large areas quickly. Creeping Jenny needs very little maintenance once established apart from pruning to control its spread.

Space creeping Jenny seedlings 12-18 inches apart, watering regularly until well established. Mulch around the plants to control weeds and improve water retention. 

4. Blue Star Creeper (Isotoma fluviatilis)

Blue Star Flower, Isotoma fluviatilis
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Blue star creeper is the ideal ground cover for areas under trees or in dappled shade. It can handle foot traffic well once established and requires minimal maintenance. The tiny star-shaped blue flowers look beautiful during the spring months.

To get blue star creeper established, plant young plugs in the spring or fall about 6 inches apart. This plant spreads rapidly but can be contained within the intended area with landscaping fabric.

5. Sedum (Sedum spp.)

Bright bush with pink Inflorescences of succulent Sedum flowers close-up, lat. (Hylotelephium spectabile) - beautiful decorative plant for garden landscape design or garden rockery, alpine slide.
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There are many varieties of sedums, including low-growing cultivars that spread rapidly to cover bare ground. Sedums are perfect for dry, sunny areas where other plants might struggle.

These drought-tolerant plants are very easy to grow from cuttings and require very little water once established.

6. Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

Green leaves, bushes, carpet. Gardening. Home garden, flower bed. Ajuga reptans. Perennial herbaceous plant. Honey plant. Blue inflorescences, pleasant smell
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Bugleweed is a fast-growing ground cover with attractive foliage in green, bronze, and purple shades. It suppresses weeds and spreads rapidly, particularly when grown in partial to full shade.

Plant bugleweed in the spring or fall, spacing the plants 8-12 inches apart. Excessive growth can be controlled by removing unwanted runners.

7. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Bedstraw (Galium odoratum) blooms in spring in the wild in the forest
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Sweet woodruff is an excellent choice for woodland gardens and shaded areas. The green whorled leaves and delicate white flowers create a dense carpet that needs very little maintenance.

Plant sweet woodruff in the spring or fall, spacing plugs 12 inches apart. This plant spreads rapidly to fill in the gaps and cover the soil.

8. Clover (Trifolium repens)

Trifolium repens white clover
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Clover makes an excellent grass replacement, improves soil fertility, and attracts beneficial insects. It is one of the best ground cover plants for areas of high foot traffic and can withstand regular mowing.

Clover is best grown from seed in the early spring or fall, preparing the soil first to create a fine tilth. Water regularly until the seeds germinate and during dry spells.

9. Periwinkle (Vinca minor)

blue periwinkle
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Periwinkle, also known as creeping myrtle, forms a dense mat of glossy green leaves and blue or purple flowers. It is established quickly in shady areas and requires little maintenance.

To grow a periwinkle lawn, plant young plugs about 12 inches apart in spring or fall. Water regularly and prune the outer edges to control the lawn’s spread.

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10. Lamium (Lamium maculatum)

lamium purple dead nettle
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Lamium, or dead nettle, is an attractive ground cover with variegated leaves and small pink, purple, or white flower clusters. It’s an excellent option for shady areas, adding texture and color to your garden while suppressing weeds.

Plant lamium in the spring or fall, spacing the plants 12 inches apart. Keep the soil moist during the establishment phase, after which the plant will tolerate drought well.

11. Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida)

Depositphotos 501420100 L brass buttons scaled e1717158500674
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Brass buttons creates a delicate carpet of fern-like foliage with small, button-shaped yellow flowers. This hardy plant is an excellent alternative to traditional lawns in cooler climates.

Brass buttons should be grown in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil, spacing plug plants 6 inches apart.

12. Silver falls (Dichondra repens)

Dichondra repens
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The small kidney-shaped leaves of silver falls create a soft, green carpet that can withstand light foot traffic. It prefers full sun or partial shade and gives the appearance of a lawn without the need for frequent mowing.

Silver falls can be grown from seed or small plugs and needs consistent moisture until well-established. It can tolerate most soil conditions and will happily trail over rocky or uneven ground.

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Yellow flowers of common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) in garden
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