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Don’t Stay Off The Lawn, Grow These 11 Walkable Ground Cover Plants Instead

Don’t Stay Off The Lawn, Grow These 11 Walkable Ground Cover Plants Instead

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In a sea of unwalkable lawns, it can be pretty tiring to find the perfect one for your yard, especially if you have kids and pets running around all the time.

Well, let me introduce you to the world of walkable ground cover plants, where beauty meets functionality! 

Walkable ground cover plants are a delightful addition to any landscape, offering not only aesthetic appeal but also practical benefits. 

These low-growing plants have the remarkable ability to withstand foot traffic, making them perfect for pathways, between stepping stones, or even as an alternative to traditional lawns. 

We have picked the best ones that are also easy to take care of. With plenty of options, I am sure you will find one that transforms your garden into a beautiful scene! 

1. Thyme

Plant size: 4 inches tall, 12 inches spread

Ideal settings: Sunny dry areas, rock gardens, herb gardens, border plant

Garden benefits: Attracting pollinators, suppressing weed growth

Hardiness zones: USDA 2 through 9

Thyme (Thymus spp.) is a versatile herb that produces small, narrow leaves and clusters of tiny flowers in shades of pink, purple, or white, depending on the type of thyme. Most of them have tough leaves, which makes them walkable! 

They release a delightful aroma when brushed against or crushed, and their flowers have strong fragrances that can attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. 

Creeping thyme is one of the best ground cover plants to suppress weed growth since they grow densely and release chemicals that can prevent seeds from germinating and developing further. 

These herbs thrive in full sun, although they can tolerate some shade as well. It can tolerate different soil conditions but thrives in a well-draining, preferably alkaline, soil. Regular watering during the initial stages of growth helps establish strong roots. 

Once established, these plants are drought tolerant. They are generally hardy and can tolerate colder climates as well.

2. Corsican Mint

Plant size: 3 inches tall, 12 inches spread

Ideal settings: Edging paths, shaded walkways, between stepping stones

Garden benefits: Ground cover, reduces soil erosion, prevents weed growth

Hardiness zones: USDA 6 through 9 

Corsican mint, otherwise known as Mentha requienii, is a low-growing perennial herb that forms a dense mat of small, round leaves and tiny purple flowers. It has a strong scent that resembles peppermint.

This mint thrives in partial shade to full shade conditions, making it perfect for shaded gardens. It prefers growing in moist soil, which is why regular watering is essential, especially during dry periods.

Well-draining soil is also recommended, along with misting to maintain high humidity levels. This herb is not frost-tolerant so you should bring it indoors during the winter months, that is, if you live in a colder climate. 

3. Soleirola Solerolii

Plant size: 4 inches tall, 36 inches spread 

Ideal settings: Shady areas, humid and damp areas

Garden benefits: Decorative ground cover, prevent weed growth

Hardiness zones: USDA 9 through 11

Soleirola solerolii, commonly known as Baby’s Tears or Mind-Your-Own-Business, is a walkable ground cover plant with tiny, round leaves that grow rather densely, creating a lush and vibrant appearance. 

It has a cascading growth habit, which is why it is an excellent choice for rock gardens, hanging baskets, or even as a filler between larger plants. 

Baby’s tears thrive in bright, indirect sunlight or partial shade. They can be used as lawn grass alternatives in shaded areas. Be careful though as these baby plants cannot tolerate heavy footfall! 

These plants prefer moist soil and are great options for areas where other plants may struggle due to high humidity or poor drainage.

They require regular watering – don’t let the soil dry out completely. Misting is also beneficial, especially if the plant is grown indoors. They are not frost-tolerant so bring them indoors if you live somewhere cold. 

4. Mazus Reptans

Plant size: 2 inches tall, 12 inches spread

Ideal settings: Between pavers, along walkways, rock gardens

Garden benefits: Attracting pollinators, natural weed barrier

Hardiness zones: USDA 5 through 8 

Here is yet another low-growing perennial that can be walked all over!

Mazus reptans forms a dense ground cover with its small, round leaves. The plant also exhibits lovely flowers in shades of blue, lavender, or white, creating a vibrant carpet-like effect in the garden. 

What’s also beneficial is that the plant spreads rather quickly and can fill in bare spaces in no time! 

Mazus reptans thrives in full sun to partial shade. It prefers consistently moist soil so frequent watering is required. The plant can benefit from a layer of organic mulch.  

This plant is relatively low-maintenance but may require occasional trimming to keep it in bounds and prevent it from spreading too aggressively.

5. Pennyroyal

Plant size: 10 inches tall, 60 inches spread

Ideal settings: Shady, damp areas, between stepping stones, along pathways

Garden benefits: Natural insect repellent, attracting pollinators, reducing soil erosion

Hardiness zones: USDA 6 through 9 

Let’s talk about another member of the mint family called Pennyroyal, otherwise known as Mentha pulegium. This is a low-growing herb that produces small, oval leaves with distinctive minty fragrances.

Besides these delicate leaves, the herb also exhibits tiny lavender flowers that add beauty to its overall appearance! 

Since it spreads quickly, pennyroyal can be used as a walkable ground cover. This unusual plant thrives in full sun to partial shade. The plant prefers well-draining soil and can tolerate drought conditions, which is why it is perfect for xeriscaping.  

This plant can spread vigorously, so regular trimming and containment may be necessary to prevent it from invading other areas of the garden. 

6. Ajuga Reptans 

Plant size: 6 inches tall, 12 inches spread

Ideal settings: Shaded areas under trees, along borders, or as a ground cover 

Garden benefits: Prevents soil erosion and weed growth, attracting pollinators

Hardiness zones: USDA 4 through 9

Ajuga reptans, otherwise known as Bugleweed, is one of the most powerful weed-killing plants out there! 

This perennial is known for its attractive foliage and spikes of flowers. The leaves are typically dark green or variegated, and the flowers range from purple to blue, pink, or white. 

Bugleweed forms a dense ground cover that can endure traffic from feet and even cars! 

Bugleweed grows best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers moist, well-draining soil. However, it can tolerate different soil conditions, including clay or slightly alkaline soils. Occasional watering and pruning will keep the plant happy and healthy! 

7. Alyssum

Plant size: 8 inches tall, 18 inches spread

Ideal settings: Rock gardens, along borders, paving edges, or as a ground cover 

Garden benefits: Repelling deer, attracting bees and butterflies, suppressing weed growth

Hardiness zones: USDA 3 through 7 

Alyssum is a lovely colorful flower for your garden that produces clusters of tiny, fragrant flowers with white, pink, lavender, or yellow colors. Alyssum has small, lance-shaped leaves and a low, spreading growth habit.

These leaves and flowers can spread quickly and create a charming colorful carpet! 

Besides its endurance to high foot traffic, alyssum is also known for tolerating extended periods of drought. However, adequate watering helps promote healthy growth and abundant flowering.

It thrives in full sun, but can grow in partial shade as well. The plant can tolerate various soil types, including sandy or rocky soils. 

8. Lithodora Diffusa 

Plant size: 6 inches tall, 18 inches spread

Ideal settings: Rock gardens, borders, or as a ground cover in dry areas

Garden benefits: Evergreen foliage provides year-round interest, attracting pollinators

Hardiness zones: USDA 6 through 9

Here is another walkable ground cover plant that originates from the Mediterranean region. Lithodora diffusa is a vibrant perennial with small, glossy leaves and deep blue, star-shaped flowers. 

This plant can make your garden look like it came straight out of a fairy tale! 

Lithodora has a trailing growth habit, making it ideal for cascading over walls or in rock gardens. It is also great for pathways and gravel gardens

Full sun or partial shade are ideal conditions for Lithodora diffusa. It thrives in well-draining soil, such as loamy or sandy. The plant should be watered during dry periods. Adding mulch can help with moisture retention. 

9. Chamomile Nobile

Plant size: 6 inches tall, 12 inches spread

Ideal settings: Rock gardens, between pavers, borders

Garden benefits: Creating a soothing atmosphere, attracting pollinators

Hardiness zones: USDA 4 through 9

Chamomile nobile is a lovely perennial herb that produces feathery leaves and daisy-like flowers. It has a spreading growth habit and forms a lush carpet of foliage, which is why it can be used in smaller backyards or low-traffic areas, or as an aromatic place to lie down.

This herb can grow in both full sun and partial shade. It prefers slightly alkaline soil but can adapt to different types of soil. Chamomile should be watered during long dry periods. Trimming back after flowering can encourage new growth.

You can grow it together with mint as it is a great chamomile companion plant

10. Creeping Jenny

Plant size: 6 inches tall, 18 inches spread

Ideal settings: Shady slopes, filling bare spots, or growing as a trailing plant in containers

Garden benefits: Preventing weed growth, attracting beneficial insects

Hardiness zones: USDA 3 through 9 

With its trailing stems and rounded, bright yellow-green leaves, this hardy perennial plant creates a wonderful walkable ground cover. Weed establishment and growth are reduced thanks to its robust growth. 

Creeping Jenny also produces vibrant yellow flowers during the summer, adding a pop of color to its lush foliage. 

This plant is relatively low-maintenance and can tolerate light foot traffic. Regular pruning or trimming can help control its spread and maintain a tidy appearance.

Creeping Jenny thrives in both direct sunlight and light shade. It can endure brief dry periods but prefers regularly damp environments. Consistent watering is required to keep the plant healthy, especially during hot and dry months.

11. Moss 

Plant size: 4 inches tall, 36 inches spread

Ideal settings: Rock gardens, woodland gardens, or as a ground cover under trees

Garden benefits: Purify air, retain moisture, support biodiversity

Hardiness zones: USDA 4 through 9 

We are ending our list with a unique and versatile moss. This plant forms a dense mat of tiny, delicate green foliage that can be grown as lawn alternatives. 

Even though we are often trying to get rid of moss, why not just let it grow and have a moss lawn instead?

Moss Acres stated: “Sheet moss is durable – it can be walked upon, and once established in a shady area, does not require watering to survive – it only helps keep it looking lush during periods of drought. Mosses are actually much more resilient than grass during droughts.” 

Moss thrives in shaded or partially shaded areas with high humidity and moisture. It prefers acidic soil and can tolerate poor soil conditions. It benefits from regular misting and watering. 

Lawn moss is relatively low-maintenance and doesn’t require mowing or trimming like traditional lawns.