Ground covers are plants that grow low and cover the ground like a carpet. If they are also walkable and evergreen, they can act as an ideal lawn replacement. Not all groundcover plants have a certain degree of tread resistance. The plant expert reveals which ones have proven to be sturdy and do well in place of lawns.

1. Feather upholstery (Cotula)

Hard-wearing and hard-wearing, this hardy upholstery perennial is reminiscent of mini ferns in its green colour. With heavy traffic, walkways can arise. The Cotula can be trimmed like a traditional lawn, creating a straight, neat appearance that resembles a traditional lawn compared to all other groundcovers. Cutting is not absolutely necessary, however, as the creeping plant only grows slightly in height. Some varieties are hardy and form a copper-red to black foliage over the winter period.

  • Growth height: five – depending on location and care also up to ten centimeters
  • Flowering period: May to August
  • flowers: inconspicuous yellow
  • Flowers smell pleasantly of honey
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Evergreen depending on the variety
  • Depending on the variety, hardy

2. Haselwurz (Asarum europaeum)

The hazel root belongs to the slow-growing ground covers. It is a real eye-catcher, especially because of the very shiny leaves. Its roots smell like ginger. As an alternative to a lawn, it is less tread-resistant than many other lawn substitutes. Unattractive walkways can result if there is a high level of stress caused by walking.

  • Growth height: five to ten centimeters
  • Bell-shaped flowers in red-purple (often “hidden” under the leaves
  • Flowering time: March and April
  • Ideal for planting in shady locations
  • Blossoms scatter a light pepper scent
  • periwinkle
  • hardy

3. Horn-Sauerklee (Oxalis corniculata)

The horn sorrel, also known as yellow sorrel, is actually an annual plant. However, it mostly only dies above ground, while root suckers in the ground usually survive the winter and ensure budding again in the following spring. The leaves have a sour-fruity taste and are refreshing in salad dressings, for example. Some swear by the healing power of sour clover and use it to treat various physical ailments.

  • Growth height: up to 20 centimeters – rarely higher
  • Flower color: lemon yellow
  • Flowering time: May to October/November (until the first frost)
  • Requires slightly acidic soil conditions
  • Location: likes shady
  • Conditionally hardy
  • No wintergreen
Note: Horned wood-sorrel is very rampant and is a weed. Care should be taken when planting this groundcover intentionally for a walkable area, as it can sometimes take years to completely remove when no longer desired.

4. Mauerpfeffer (Sedum acre)

For smaller areas, the sharp stonecrop is ideal as a ground cover and lawn substitute. This ground cover is a cushion-forming, creeping and walkable perennial that offers a pleasant feeling when walking with bare feet. Stonecrop is considered to be very robust and easy to care for. He usually forgives care mistakes. Particularly noteworthy is the lush growth of flowers, which fills every garden with a summery flair.

  • Growth height: five to 15 centimeters
  • Flowering period: June to August
  • flowers: star-shaped, yellow
  • Preferred location: full sun
  • Copes well with prolonged drought
  • hardy
  • Evergreen ground cover

5. Pfennigkraut (Lysimachia nummularia)

Pennywort is also known by the names coinwort and penny loosestrife As a ground cover, it is characterized by its enormous robustness and ease of care, which is why it is ideal for use as a walkable area and lawn replacement. However, it is less suitable for daily playing and romping because bald spots form and growth is restricted. If you want a lawn-like look, you can cut the pennywort with the lawnmower and thus keep the growth height under control.

  • Growth height: five to ten centimeters – sometimes higher
  • Flowering period: May to July
  • Flower color: bright yellow
  • Preferred location: semi-shade, also does well in the sun
  • periwinkle
  • hardy

6. Purple Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

The purple deadnettle belongs to the mint family and is best known as a medicinal plant. As a substitute for a lawn, it is characterized by dense growth that covers soil well. Unlike most other ground covers, it should occasionally be pruned in height to be considered a worthy lawn substitute.

  • periwinkle
  • Growth height: up to 45 centimeters (uncut)
  • Flower color: crimson
  • Flowering time: March to October
  • Does well on barren, stony or sandy soil, where otherwise hardly anything grows
  • Required location: partially shaded to shaded
  • Exceptionally hardy

7. Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

Roman chamomile is extremely sturdy and is one of the best alternatives for a lawn, although constant stress similar to sport, such as children running around or dogs romping around, can severely restrict otherwise rapid growth. Walking within normal limits, on the other hand, stimulates their growth.

  • Growth height: about 15 centimeters
  • Flowering period: June to September
  • Flower color: typically white with a yellow center
  • Strong spreading
  • Preferred location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Wintergreen to evergreen
  • hardy

8. Knotweed (Muehlenbeckia axillaris)

A walkable area can be ideally created with knotweed as ground cover. The green foliage turns reddish-brown in autumn and brings color to the barren autumn landscape. It is particularly easy to care for and also forms a dense cushion that proves to be step-resistant for normal walking.

  • Growth height: five to ten centimeters
  • Growth width per plant up to 1.5 meters
  • Flowering period: June to July
  • flowers: star-shaped, yellow-green
  • Preferred location: sunny
  • wintergreen
  • Frostfest

9. Star Moss (Sagina Subulata)

Star moss, which is not real moss but belongs to the fattening herbs, exudes a touch of elegance. Due to its lawn-like growth, it can easily replace a conventional lawn, which is why it is also very popular with garden owners.

  • Growth height: about five centimeters
  • Growth: cushion-like
  • Flowering period: June to August
  • Blossoms. star-shaped, white
  • Preferred location: semi-shady to shady
  • periwinkle
  • Hardy to minus 15 degrees Celsius

Carpet Polymy (Mentha pulegium ssp. Repens)

As a dense and low-growing ground cover that is conditionally step-resistant, the carpet pennyroyal is an ideal lawn substitute. It is relatively soft, so that it can also be walked on barefoot.

  • Growth height: about five centimeters
  • Flowering time: July to August/September
  • Flowers: blooms profusely in pink to delicate lilac
  • Preferred location: semi-shade
  • hardy
  • periwinkle

11. Teppichverbene ‚Summer Pearls‘ (Phyla nodiflora)

The “Summer Pearls” variety of Japanese carpet verbena is extremely hard-wearing and even allows you to play soccer. This is a perennial that is fast-growing and covers about one square meter in a few months.

  • periwinkle
  • Blooms from May to October
  • Flower color_ white-pink
  • Slightly sweet scented
  • Tolerates dryness and wetness alike
  • Forms little or no unsightly “walkways”
  • Required location: sunny
  • hardy

12. Thymian (Thymus)

While most thyme cultivars grow upright, there are special creeping cultivars that lie like a soft cushion over the ground and are therefore available as ground cover and can be planted in place of a lawn. Walk-on types of thyme such as the vigorously flowering Thymus cherlerioides or Thymus praecox Minor (very flat and hard-wearing) and Atropurpurea are hard-wearing.

  • Growth height: between two and ten centimeters
  • Dense, rapid growth
  • Flowering period: April to August
  • Flower color: depending on the variety, reddish, violet, soft lilac, white-lilac
  • Wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum) ideal as a “scented lawn”
  • Preferred location: sunny
  • Evergreen and hardy
Tip: Thyme attracts bees. Close to the ground, this can become a problem, especially for the feet, if a bee is accidentally stepped on. For this reason, this groundcover should only be walked on with shoes as a substitute for lawn.

13. Zwergmispel (Cotoneaster)

The cotoneaster offers a real gem as a walkable groundcover and ideal lawn replacement. The color contrasts between the foliage, flowers and fruits are a feast for the eyes. The plant, which comes from the rose family, is characterized above all by its ability to drive out weeds. As a lawn substitute, cotoneasters are perfect for smaller areas.

  • Growth height: up to 15 centimeters
  • Flower color: white, cream, pink, violet, red
  • Flowering period: May to July/August
  • Loves moist soil
  • Forms red berries
  • Preferred location: sunny
  • Evergreen and hardy

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