Let’s face it, keeping one’s lawn looking good is high maintenance and not exactly a water-wise exercise. How about replacing some sections of lawn with tough groundcovers? Some of them are really versatile and easy to grow, and many are drought-resistant too, making them a great alternative to grass.
Mosses (for shady spaces), thyme, yarrow and penny royal all make a practical alternative to lawn, which is high maintenance and consumes water and fertiliser. These groundcovers can be used between pavers in areas with high traffic or on their own in less-trodden spaces.
Dichondra repens (wonder lawn) is an excellent alternative to lawn in sun or part shade. Its bright green foliage is attractive alone or between pavers and best of all, it does not need too much water. Feed wonder lawn occasionally with any lawn fertiliser and it will reward you with a lush carpet of green.
For sunny, heavily-trafficked areas, Dymondia magaretae is a good bet and even produces tiny yellow flowers that are pretty against the silvery leaves. It will tolerate quite a lot of foot traffic and looks attractive between pavers as well. Mentha pulgium (penny royal) is pretty and fragrant and handles a medium amount of traffic quite well.
For slopes and spaces where foot traffic is not necessary, there are quite a few options. Aptenia cordifolia with its dainty pink flowers is a hardy, succulent groundcover that will look attractive most of the year with barely any attention (except for the occasional cut back).
In shady, difficult spaces where grass is going to be a battle, there are also options. Creeping foxglove (Asystasia gangetica) will adapt to almost any conditions as long as it receives some water. It is good for large shady spaces, under trees or on slopes and has attractive white flowers that are loved by bees. It can become a bit invasive though, so be careful where you use it.
Written by Pat Ingarfield
Featured image: Ice Tea