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Fields of Green: 5 Favorite Lawn Substitutes

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Fields of Green: 5 Favorite Lawn Substitutes

May 26, 2021

Ah, the scent of freshly mowed grass. And… lawn mower noise, grass allergies, proliferation of chemical fertilizers, obscene water consumption, and continual war with lawn intruders (of the “weed” variety). The suburban romance with groomed grass turf is over.

The good news for those who still want a field of green is the abundance of lawn substitutes that can accommodate foot traffic, pet traffic, and rounds of lawn games.

Plant of mix of clover varieties to attract pollinators and to create a meadow. You can mow a path through the flowers. Eight varieties of Clover Seeds at prices starting at \$5.95 per pound are available from American Meadows. Photograph by Justine Hand.
Above: Plant of mix of clover varieties to attract pollinators and to create a meadow. You can mow a path through the flowers. Eight varieties of Clover Seeds at prices starting at $5.95 per pound are available from American Meadows. Photograph by Justine Hand.
Photograph courtesy of Great Garden Plants. Surprisingly nearly as rugged as ordinary grass, Blue Star Creeper (Isotoma fluviatillis) ground cover is fast growing and can take heavy foot traffic. It creates a floral meadow in the spring and summer. Hardy in zones 5 to 9; \$\1\2.99 for a \1-quart pot at Great Garden Plants.
Above: Photograph courtesy of Great Garden Plants. Surprisingly nearly as rugged as ordinary grass, Blue Star Creeper (Isotoma fluviatillis) ground cover is fast growing and can take heavy foot traffic. It creates a floral meadow in the spring and summer. Hardy in zones 5 to 9; $12.99 for a 1-quart pot at Great Garden Plants.
Green Carpet Rupturewort (Herniaria glabra) is so-called for its abundance of tiny leaves that grow in a very low flat manner to create a dense evergreen carpet. It turns a reddish color in winter. Hardy in zones 5 to 9; \$4.95 for a 3-inch pot at Mountain Valley Growers.
Above: Green Carpet Rupturewort (Herniaria glabra) is so-called for its abundance of tiny leaves that grow in a very low flat manner to create a dense evergreen carpet. It turns a reddish color in winter. Hardy in zones 5 to 9; $4.95 for a 3-inch pot at Mountain Valley Growers.
Consider replacing your lawn with moss. &#8\2\20;It creates the perfect soft patch as a lawn alternative and really hugs the path stones and bench, making them really stand out,&#8\2\2\1; says landscape designer Brook Klausing of the Irish moss he used in this Brooklyn garden. See more of it in Brooklyn Backyard Visit: A Developer-Built Home Finds Its Outer Cool. Irish Moss is \$5.\29 for three from Direct Gardening. Photograph by Douglas Lyle Thompson, courtesy of Brook Landscape.
Above: Consider replacing your lawn with moss. “It creates the perfect soft patch as a lawn alternative and really hugs the path stones and bench, making them really stand out,” says landscape designer Brook Klausing of the Irish moss he used in this Brooklyn garden. See more of it in Brooklyn Backyard Visit: A Developer-Built Home Finds Its Outer Cool. Irish Moss is $5.29 for three from Direct Gardening. Photograph by Douglas Lyle Thompson, courtesy of Brook Landscape.
Very drought-tolerant, low-growing Elfin Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) forms a tight solid mat of green foliage that blooms with light pink flowers in summer. The sun-loving plant is a vigorous creeper that stands up to foot traffic. And, did I mention the scent? \$\1\2.95 at Greenwood Nursery.
Above: Very drought-tolerant, low-growing Elfin Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) forms a tight solid mat of green foliage that blooms with light pink flowers in summer. The sun-loving plant is a vigorous creeper that stands up to foot traffic. And, did I mention the scent? $12.95 at Greenwood Nursery.

N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published on March 21, 2013.

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Product summary  

Grasses

Irish Moss

$5.29 USD from Direct Gardening

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