If the task of maintaining or trying to achieve a perfect lawn is too time-consuming, expensive, and supply-intensive, consider alternatives to a lush green carpet of grass. Many public areas feature a ground cover (different kinds of plants) that looks just as beautiful as grass without involving the labor and expense. Consider whether a lawn alternative, like the ones below, is right for your yard.
Alternative 1: Lamiastrum Galeobdolon (yellow archangel)— this plant looks great, is low maintenance, can compete with weeds, and grows well under the shade provided by old, large trees.
Alternative 2: Cotoneaster Dammeri —a woody plant that grows best in sun to partial shade. It has round, deep green leaves that turn bronze to purple during fall. During spring, it boasts fragrant white flowers and by late summer, its green fruit turns red.
Alternative 3: Creeping Euonymus—when contained, this is a very attractive alternative to grass. This vinelike plant will climb if provided support. It grows in sunny to shady areas, sporting paired leaves with silvery-white and dark green veins, small green flowers, and pink fruit capsules during fall.
Alternative 4: Hedera Helix (English Ivy)— a climbing, drought-tolerant vine that grows best in soil that is loamy, rich, and acidic. Once established, English Ivy grows aggressively so it must be controlled.
Alternative 5: Liriope Spicata—takes a grasslike form, growing in spreading clumps of 18-inch, dark green leaves featuring a fine texture. During mid to late summer, it grows spiky clusters of white to pale violet flowers. Fruit is berrylike and has a blue-black color. Liriope Spicata is drought tolerant and can handle adverse conditions but can also be invasive.
Alternative 6: Pachysandra Terminalis—requires acidic soil that is well-drained and partial shade to shady conditions. The two to four-inch shiny, oval-shaped leaves are medium green in color and during spring, white flowers bloom that are spikelike and fragrant.
Alternative 7: Carex Pensylvanica—when grass will not grow in an area due to dense shade or dry or nutrient-deprived soil, this sedge is an excellent choice. It forms soft clumps of narrow blades that green in early spring and sparse flowers that typically appear shortly before summer.
Alternative 8: A wildflower meadow is an attractive grass alternative. By incorporating different species of plants, you can create an area that flowers throughout the season and features an abundance of color.
Killing Grass: If the decision is made to kill grass, applying a chemical product is one way to do it. However, there are also organic alternatives. Take an 8 mm or thicker sheet of black plastic and stretch it over the grass you want to remove. Pin the plastic into place using metal stakes and leave it on the area for about six weeks. After removing the plastic, the covered grass will be dead enough to be raked or cleaned out without much effort.