Ground cover for walkways

Low Growing Plants To Plant Along Or In A Walkway

Many gardeners love the look of stone walkways, patios and driveways, but these types of hardscapes have their difficulties. Many times, they may look too harsh or are prone to allow difficult to remove weeds to grow. A good solution to both of these problems is to add low growing plants between the stones. Not only do low growing grass and other ground cover plants soften the look of the stone, but they are a low maintenance way to keep weeds away.

Low Growing Plants for Walkways

In order for low garden plants to make good walkway plants, they need to have a few traits. First, they must be somewhat drought tolerant, as walkway stones may not allow much water to reach the roots. Second, they must be tolerant of both heat and cold, as the stones can hold onto both the heat of the sun in summer and the cold in the winter. Lastly, these ground cover plants but be able to take being walked on at least a little bit. Above all, they must be low growing plants.

Here are several low growing grasses and ground cover plants that meet these requirements:

  • Miniature Sweet Flag Grass
  • Ajuga
  • Pussytoes
  • Mountain Rockcress
  • Artemisia
  • Snow in Summer
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Miniature Rush
  • Fleabane
  • Ground Ivy
  • Green Carpet Herniaria
  • Leptinella
  • White Toadflax
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Mazus
  • Dwarf Mondo Grass
  • Golden Marjoram
  • Potentilla
  • Pratia
  • Scotch or Irish Moss
  • Most low growing sedums
  • Soleirolia
  • Creeping thyme
  • Speedwell
  • Violets

While these hardy low garden plants will work between the stones of your walkway, they are not the only options available. If you find a plant you feel will make a good walkway plant, give it a try.

How to Choose Groundcover to Plant Between Pavers?

Published by Armstone

  • Whether you have pavers made from concrete, brick, or stone; whether they’re irregular shaped or uniform; and whether they are in full sun or partial shade, the benefits of planting a groundcover between them can be plenty.

    No matter what type of pavers you have selected to use in your backyard, chances are that you have some kind of a gap between them. These gaps will vary, with walkways generally housing larger gaps than normal pavers so as to give that stepping stone effect.

    When these gaps are neglected they can become a catchall for weeds, and over time your pavers may even begin to shift. While sand can be used to fill the gaps temporarily, over time this will wash away.

    Other options, such as gravel or cement, can do the trick, but if you’re after something with a natural aesthetic appeal you can’t go past groundcover.

    The idea of choosing groundcover to fill the gaps between your pavers might seem like a strange concept initially. We’re taught from an early age to not walk on plants, so including a delicate-looking creeper into your walkway may seem a little odd. But what you may not realise is that there are a number of hard, foot traffic-withstanding varieties of groundcover that are perfect for use in paths, walkways, and anywhere else you’d like to tread.

    When selecting creeping perennials to go between your pavers, it’s important to first make an assessment of your backyard and the climate of the area you live in.

    Matching the plant to the environment will ensure that you get the right look for your garden. Here are some considerations you should make before going out to the nursery.

    * Raven Granite Stepping Stones

    How much sunlight?

    Pay attention to the sun over the course of a day so as to determine whether your garden receives full or direct sun, morning sun with afternoon shade, morning shade with afternoon sun, or mostly shade.

    * Groundcover varieties that enjoy full sun include Creeping Thyme and Dymondia,

    * Sedums, Chamomile, and Cranesbill work well in some shade,

    * Creeping Dogwood, Corsican Sandwort, Sweet Woodruff, and Blue Star Creepers are happy in damp shade.

    How much foot traffic?

    A general rule for creeping perennials is that the more delicate the leaf structure, the less traffic the plant will be able to withstand. As a result, you should try to determine how often the groundcover will be walked on. Will it be several times a day, once a day, or just once a week?

    * Rupturewort is super tough and almost carpet-like, able to handle heavy foot traffic.

    * Its foliage is nice and green, and turns bronze-red during winter,

    * Creeping Wire Vine is another great alternative that can even be mowed!

    How much space is between the pavers?

    Gaps vary widely between stone pavers, and finding plants to suit these gaps is essential. If you plant a fast and wide-spreading plant in a pathway that only provides narrow spaces between stones, the plants will quickly cover the stones or consume you with trimming.

    If your gaps are narrow, you’ll need to look for plants that can be sliced into thin pieces to tuck in. Plants such as Blue Star Creeper and Dwarf Mondo are good for this, as not only are they spread by underground roots but their root ball can also be divided easily using a utility knife. Plants with a single main stem cannot be divided.

    How is soil drainage?

    Take a look at your area to see if it stays continuously damp, dry, or soggy. Whether the site is well-drained or not, there are plants to suit, but finding the right one is important.

    * Varieties that will tolerate consistently moist or damp soil include Mazus, Golden Creeping Jenny, Jewelmint of Corsica and Blue Star Creeper,

    * Sedums and Creeping Thyme prefer better-drained soil.

    Do you want uniformity or variety?

    A more formal looking outdoor area may call for a uniform effect in planting, but for something a little more fun and natural, you may consider mixing up the uniformity with a variety of plants. This gives the effect that the plants simply blew in with the wind, and offers the added benefit that if one plant doesn’t work, it can quickly be replaced.

    A good recommendation is to aim for something in between the two. Using too many disparate heights and textures can look chaotic while using too few can lead to a mass of nondescript green.

    Subtlety is the key, so look for combinations such as Blue Star creeper between stones, and a taller, more delicate Dianthus along the edges.

    * Avatar Bluestone Organic Stepping Stones

    How quickly do I want the gaps filled?

    If you’re after a faster fill-in period, try breaking slower-spreading plants like Mondo Grass or Blue Star Creeper into smaller bits. If your gaps can handle it, plants such as creeping Jenny and Creeping Wire Vine are both wide-spreading and fast-growing.

    Our 6 Favourite Groundcovers:

    The tiny green leaves of Blue Star Creeper form a dense, low mat between stepping stones and patio pavers, and offer delicate star-shaped flowers in blue. This is a wonderful creeping perennial for moist landscapes.

    2. Mondo Grass

    Mondo Grass spreads rapidly through underground stems to form a soft, shag pile carpet. It makes an excellent border and gap filler for pathways, is drought tolerant, frost tolerant, and can withstand light traffic.

    3. Native Violet

    Native Violet is a fast-spreading creeper, but is very low growing so won’t steamroll other plants. It’s easily separated to fill lots of gaps, loves the moist shade, and offers pretty purple and white flowers most of the year.

    4. Temple Grass

    Temple Grass offers fine, bright leaves and is commonly used for rockeries and between stepping stones. It will develop clumps or ‘lumps’ on the surface, which is generally considered an attractive feature.

    5. Creeping Jenny

    The roundish, chartreuse leaves and yellow flowers of the Creeping Jenny make it a popular groundcover choice. A mat-forming perennial, it grows around 10-20 centimetres tall and roots as it grows.

    6. Creeping Thyme

    Creeping Thyme is one of the best low-growing groundcovers, offering beautiful colours for very low maintenance. Better yet, it can be walked on, making it an ideal fill-in plant.

    We also have this article that we written to Make your Walkway Timless with Stepping Stones

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    Arman Minas

    Director at Armstone A committed and enthusiastic expert, Arman has more than 10 years experience in the stone industry and 20 years in the design space. Arman’s strong, customer focused passion has seen countless projects come to life. At the head of the Armstone team, Arman oversees all aspects of the business.

    Latest posts by Arman Minas (see all)

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    Becky Clark Design Thymus Praecox ‘Coccineus’ ablaze w flower in north Portland parking strip

    Selecting Stepable Path Plants for Portland Landscapes

    Maybe it’s not fair that most people don’t know the finer points of selecting stepable path plants. The truth is planting between pavers successfully without insider knowledge rarely ever results in what I would call low maintenance. It’s a little like Goldilocks and The Three Bears, the plant has to be just right. Remember? The chair and the bed had to be the right size and the porridge had to be the right temperature. If the plant you select is not right for the job, your path or patio can have problems that will take a complete do over to solve.

    Most people don’t want to trial and error plants. They want to know it will work before they put in their time and effort. That is the advantage of hiring a Portland landscape designer. We know what works here and what doesn’t.

    Step on these plants. This keeps them growing low and dense.

    Here’s how I think about selecting stepable path plants.

    I want a plant that doesn’t grow higher than 1″ or 2″ tall maximum. Many stepable plants tend to grow into a hump and must be walked on regularly to keep it from growing into a hump and being a trip hazard. Stepping on the plants frequently will cause them to grow dense and shorter. My grandson Rain helped me plant my flagstone patio. I stepped away and his friend came running in and said “I keep telling him they’re stepables not stompables.” I looked up to see my grandson stomping on the freshly planted ground covers. Surprisingly, the plants survived just fine.

    I want a plant that doesn’t grow over the flagstone too quickly. If you plant a type of stepable that grows too vigorously you will be constantly cutting the plant off of the flagstone. Untended it will completely cover your flagstone. A slower plant might need a trim every year or two.

    What do stepable groundcovers need?

    Most stepable plants require good drainage in order to grow thickly and repel weeds. If they don’t grow thickly, and have bare patches, weed seeds will be able to reach the soil, germinate and thrive.

    I’ve listed plants below for part sun and full sun. I don’t have a stepable plant that thrives in strong shade, regardless of what the plant labels say. I’ve tried several that manage to stay alive in dappled shade but don’t grow thick enough to repel weeds. Another tip: Don’t plant in an area that was infested with weeds. You will need to tackle the weeds first before you plant your stepables.

    Here is my favorites list:

    Here’s a close up of ‘Platt’s Black’ Brass Buttons with Star Creeper.

    Stepable Plants for Part Shade/Part Sun:

    Leptinella squalida – New Zealand Brass Buttons. The variety I prefer is ‘Platt’s Black’. The other variety of Brass Buttons I like, ‘LePrinella P. Verdigris’ is a a little fast for pavers but I have used it for paths. I don’t grow either of these in full sun. They spread until they find an environment they don’t like. In my patio they run into too much shade and the strong roots of sword fern and they stop there. These are spreaders so think before planting.

    Mentha requienii – Corsican Mint This is a crowd pleaser because it smells good when you step on the plant. This plant needs some sun, and needs good drainage, too much shade and soil that is too wet in the winter will kill this plant. Full day sun is too much for this plant.

    Stepable Plants for Sun:

    Thymus Serpyllum ‘Elfin’ or ‘Elfin Pink’ – I love this plant and it is truly a flat mat if you step on it regularly. It does get weeds growing into the middle so it’s not maintenance free, but only garden magazines talk about maintenance free landscapes. When it is successful you will have to cut it off of flagstones some but I find it quite manageable.

    Stachys Densiflora ‘Alba’ – Alba Lambs Ear First of all this plant looks nothing like the traditional cottage garden plant (silver furry leafed) Lambs ear. The tiny leaves are fully evergreen, dark green and leathery. I love this plant because it doesn’t let weed seeds in. Plant it on the edges of your path unless you plan to step on it every day, otherwise it will mound up. It takes full sun easily and the flowering period is fantastic! The seed heads are interesting as well.

    My Favorite Stepable Plant

    Azorella Trifurcata ‘Nana’ – Cushion Bolax I have this plant at my vacation house in full morning sun (so 4 hours) and it will take full day sun as well. It occasionally has a dandelion sprout in the middle, but other pesky weeds don’t invade. I find it to be very low maintenance and perfect for a place I only visit every month or two. It will creep over your pavers so plan to trim once every year or two. It’s my favorite filler plant for pavers, paths and as a foreground plant in a planting bed.

    My dog Barley looking at freshly planted Cushion Bolax.

    I love the texture. It goes through a change where the little needles feel like a plastic carpet (which sounds bad but is fun) and then it softens into a pettable surface. The yellow flowers are tiny fat buttons and cute.

    We can often spend a great deal of time selecting and tending to plants for our gardens. But, a commonly overlooked area happens to be the walkways that lead to them. Walkways are the stepping stone to full-blown gardening and deserve as much attention as gardens do.

    There is a range of plants best suited for walkways and choosing them depends on various factors. The type of pavement or stone used for your walkway has an effect on their growth and should be taken into consideration.

    Soil drainage will also affect which plants are best suited for your walkway. The amount of sunlight required for each plant should also be taken into consideration. This way, you can place them in an area where they’ll flourish.

    You should also take into consideration the amount of foot traffic your walkway receives. That way, your plants will remain unscathed during times of heavy traffic.

    Despite the effort that goes into the process, these plants are beautiful and often require little maintenance. Aside from that, they can also breathe life into an otherwise drab walkway.

    From Silver Mound to Daylilies, there are 12 plants for walkways listed below that will add character to both your home and garden.

    1. Astilbes

    Astilbes are good walkway plants. They are perennials and bloom best in the summertime. The best location to plant is in full sun, or light shade location, with slightly moist soil. They have a feathery plumed flower and stand tall. They range from a few inches to several feet tall. They come in a variety of colors such as cream, white, red, pink, and purple. Choosing this beauty in your walkway this summer will have your garden blooming most of the summer.

    2. Big blue lilyturf

    Big blue lilyturf also called Liriope is also a good choice to plant in a walkway. They are a bulb type plant and bloom best in the late summer to fall. It is a tuberous plant that grows in tight clumps and grows anywhere from 12-20 inches tall. The flower that blooms from this plant is white or lavender. The plant leaves are green with a yellow margin going down the length of the plant leaves. What’s great about choosing this particular plant for your walkway is that you can plant it in a sunny or shady area.

    3. Cranesbills

    Cranesbills are a beautiful touch to any pathway. They are perennials that bloom best in summer. It is best to plant them in an area with full sun, or light shade. This plant grows in mounds of green foliage up to 2 feet in diameter with small cup-shaped blossoms. They come in a variety of beautiful colors to brighten anyone’s day including pink, lavender, blue, white, or purple.

    4. Daylilies

    Daylilies will brighten up your walkway with it’s yellow or orange like the lily. They are perennials that bloom best in the summer and fall. This beauty needs full sun but can tolerate afternoon shade. The flower on this plant last only one day most of the time, they open in the morning and fade at dusk. A few will bloom again a second day. However, most plants produce many buds and will stay in bloom for several weeks. The flower size varies from 3-4 ½ inches in diameter, and the plant size can be from 1-3 feet tall. For more tips, here is a tip guide I wrote on Daylilies!

    5. Heart-leaved Bergenia

    Heart-leaved bergenia is a perennial type plant, which blooms in early Spring. The flower that blooms is a red-purple flower on a red stem measuring anywhere from 12-18 inches tall. They have an attractive glossy green leaf extending about a foot in width. It is best to plant in an area with full sun exposure with afternoon shade.

    6. Hostas

    Hostas are a lovely addition if you want green beautiful foliage. These are perennials that grow best in a lightly shaded area with rich, moist soil. They produce a blue, white, or lavender fragrant filled bloom on a tall stalk. This is a low-maintenance plant, that easily thrives in areas most plants might not.

    7. King Edward Yarrow

    King Edward Yarrow is a plant that most often thrives in dry soil and in full sun. It will best bloom in summer and is a perennial type plant. It has fragrant foliage with rosy pink flowers that can reach about 2 feet tall.

    8. Lavender

    Any garden with the relaxing fragrance of lavender is as close to an oasis as one can get. It’s best bloom time is mid-Summer and is a perennial type of plant. It grows best in full sun areas. It’s blue-violet flowers grow about 3 feet tall.

    9. Pansies and Violets

    Pansies and Violets are an excellent choice to use in a walkway as they are Annual, biennial or Perennial type plants that bloom from Spring through Fall. They will bloom in either sun filled or shady areas. They bloom in patches of white, purple, or yellow flowers. They are dainty, pretty flowers that last a long time blooming and are a beautiful sight to see bunched up.

    10. Rock Cresses

    Rock cresses is a perfect Springtime perennial to have in your garden. It will do best in a sun-filled area. This plant’s bloom is white to purple flowers that normally grow in bunches that cover the green foliage.

    11. Sea Thrift

    Sea thrift is great for a rocky walkway garden. They are perennials that bloom best in late Spring to Summer in sunny areas. These plants produce green grass-like clumps in your garden. They will bloom in either white, red, or pink flowers and can reach about 8 inches tall.

    12. Silvermound

    Silvermound is feathery like bloom which is used mostly for foliage. This perennial grows best in full sun. It grows in mounds of silky, bushy beautiful silvery foliage. It can range from 12-18 inches tall.


    8 Perfect Plants for Sidewalk Landscaping Ideas

    To learn which plants withstand the challenging conditions of the sidewalk landscaping, keep reading.

    Attributes of Successful Sidewalk Strip Plants

    Stocking a sidewalk strip planting area requires focusing on carefree plants with a tough constitution. These plants for sidewalk landscaping should boast rugged good looks, along with the following traits:

    • Drought-tolerant
    • Short stature (under 36 inches)
    • Low-maintenance (little pruning required)
    • Not picky about soil
    • Robust and able to stake their claim in the harsh setting
    • Perennial (not needing frequent replacement)

    Get started on your sidewalk landscaping by considering a few of these never-say-die plants.

    Arkansas Blue Star (Amsonia hubrichtii)
    This deer-resistant perennial presents strong three-season interest with blue spring blooms, fine-textured summer foliage, and stunning gold fall color. USDA Zones 4-10.

    Size: 2-3 feet tall and wide
    Growing tip: After flowering, cut stems back to 6-8 inches to spur well-branched, fuller plants.

    Blue Fescue (Festuca ovina var. glauca “Elijah Blue”)
    This compact ornamental grass forms neat clumps of blue-green foliage. Wheat-colored seedpods appear in summer. USDA Zones: 5-11.

    Size: 6-18 inches tall by 6-9 inches wide
    Growing tip: This charmer pairs well with purple bloomers and silver foliage. Space tightly to use as a ground cover.

    Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)
    Lavender-blue blossom spikes unfurl in late spring to early summer atop bluish-green foliage. Dark seedpods add winter interest. USDA Zones 3-10.

    Size: 3-4 feet tall and wide
    Growing tip: Plants emerge late in spring. Mark the spot so you don’t disturb the crown.

    English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia “Hidcote”)
    Deep-purple flower wands top silvery gray foliage. Plants are deer- and rabbit-resistant. Both blooms and foliage boast the favored lavender scent. USDA Zones 5-11.

    Size: 12-18 inches tall and wide
    Growing tip: Use gravel for mulch, especially in regions with humid summers. Lavender prefers a lean, low-fertility soil.

    New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax)
    This New Zealand native features eye-catching linear leaves edged or striped in a variety of hues, including pink, purple, red or orange. Look for varieties with bronze or burgundy-purple leaves. USDA Zones 9-11; roots survive in USDA Zones 7-8 in protected locations.

    Size: 1-6 feet tall by 1-3 feet wide. Look for dwarf types in regions where plants are hardy.
    Growing tip: Different varieties offer varying degrees of winter hardiness. Check with local garden centers to discover what options will survive winter in your region.

    Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)
    This native grass forms arching mounds of emerald foliage that burnish gold as autumn ends. Flowers smell like caramel; seedpods open and drop seeds (hence the name). USDA Zones 3-10.

    Size: 2-3 feet tall and wide
    Growing tip: This grass slowly naturalizes and forms spreading clumps but doesn’t self-seed. Birds gobble the seeds, especially juncos and sparrows.

    Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
    Pink petals surround bristly cone centers. Plants self-seed and spread to form a pleasant clump. Look for new varieties with different flower hues, including orange, gold and raspberry. USDA Zones 3-11.

    Size: 24-36 inches tall by 18-24 inches wide
    Growing tip: In late summer, stop removing spent blooms and allow seed heads to ripen. The seeds attract goldfinches and pine siskins.

    Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
    Purple blooms float among scented, fernlike, silver leaves from midsummer to fall. The effect in the garden is airy. Plant with purple coneflower or black-eyed Susan for a pleasing combination. USDA Zones 5-11.

    Size: 36-60 inches tall by 24-48 inches wide
    Growing tip: Clip stems by two-thirds in early spring to encourage well-branched plants.

    Prevent Weed Growth Between Paving Stones

    There are few things more frustrating than grass between pavers on your pathway or patio. Not only do they make the surface look untidy, but weeds are also tedious to remove. We’ll show you how to prevent weed growth between paving stones.

    Looking for a driveway weed killer?

    It’s important to understand how weeds get in between the paving stones in order to prevent them from growing in the future. Weeds don’t grow from the bottom up; they grow when the sand washes out allowing seedlings to fall from the top and into the spaces between your joints.

    Properly installed paving stones will not be easily susceptible to weed growth. And while choosing the best materials for your project will help prevent weed growth, weeds are experts in finding places to grow. Even just a couple seedlings can quickly spread throughout your entire patio.

    Despite how determined weeds can be, there are effective solutions that will prevent and deter weeds from growing. Here’s how to prevent weed growth between paving stones.

    1. Ensure your patio or pathway has a sufficient slope to drain water when it rains. Weeds want to inhabit a cool damp environment; proper drainage will help avoid weed growth.
    2. Regular Sweeping. Brushing your paving stones will prevent seedlings from settling, and will disrupt new weeds from fully establishing a place between your pavers.

    If you already have weed growth between your patio stones, here are some helpful steps:

    1. Remove any large weeds between the joints. Larger weeds are more difficult to remove with a pressure washer so it is best to do this step manually.
    2. Use a pressure washer to remove the existing materials from the joints. This will remove all rooting zones and existing jointing sand. Be sure not to disturb the bedding layer that the paving stones are resting on.
    3. Use an organic solution to ensure all rooting zones have been destroyed. Chemical solutions are quite damaging for the environment, and potentially harmful to pets or children. Non-chemical solutions include white vinegar or boiling water. By pouring either of these solutions over top of the infected areas you will kill already existing weeds and prevent new ones from sprouting.
    4. Let the surface dry and refill with stabilizing sand. Once the surface is dry you can replace the sand between the joints. This is your next step of how to prevent weed growth between paving stones. EnviroSAND has a plant glue that swells into a gel whenever it gets wet, which prevents wash out and acts as a 1st line of defense to weed growth. EnviroSAND also has an elevated pH making it difficult for the seeds to germinate, preventing future weed growth. For installation instructions check out this video.

    All the tips listed above will help control and eliminate weed growth. But the best method of prevention is to use properly installed stabilizing sand between your pavers. Stabilizing sand does not allow seedlings to fall between the pavers and grow. To learn more about how EnviroSAND helps deter weed growth watch this video.

    Envirosand is now available in Canada at Home Depot.

    Easy-to-grow groundcovers aren’t just limited to grass. There are plenty of attractive solutions that suppress weeds and add interest to your yard.

    Groundcovers that feature variegated leaves and bright blooms bring life to areas that might otherwise go unnoticed. Plus, most groundcovers use less water than typical lawns and don’t require mowing.

    To get a groundcover started, dig planting holes twice the size of the plants’ roots, fill partially with compost, add the plant and then backfill with compost enhanced with Bio-tone Starter Plus. Water plants thoroughly after planting.

    5 Ground Covers for Your Yard

    1. Thyme

    Choose this perennial herb to create an aromatic, green carpet. Creeping thyme will grow between the cracks and crevices of stone paths and the pink or white blooms are lovely. Plant in full sun. Thyme is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4-10.

    2. Creeping Juniper

    This evergreen thrives in the heat. It does especially well in poor and sandy soils, drought and hot summers. Use it to fill in slopes, hills or rocky terrain. Plant in full sun. Creeping Juniper is hardy in Zones 3-10.

    3. Sedum

    One of the most dependable perennials you can grow, sedum quickly establishes in any sunny spot. Some sedums provide four seasons of interest, turning red in fall and winter. This low-maintenance, fast spreading plant will grow in even the poorest soil. Plant in full sun. Sedum is hardy in Zones 4-9.

    4. Sweet Woodruff

    Its star-shaped leaves and tiny white flowers make this shade-loving ground cover a favorite for many gardeners. True to its name, sweet woodruff will bring an earthy aroma to your yard. Plant in part to full shade. Sweet woodruff is hardy in Zones 4-8.

    5. Pachysandra

    Pachysandra is a great ground cover for areas where deer are a problem. Plus, it requires little care once it’s established. Be careful, though. While this ground cover is great for deterring deer, it can be poisonous to pets and children. Grow in shade and moist, well-drained soil. Pachysandra is hardy in Zones 4-8.

    Looking for something with more blooms? Find out the top annuals to plant in containers.

    Low-Growing Plants Guide: Border Plants For Your Walkway


    Low-Growing Border Plants

    There’s no doubt about it: A well-designed border along a walkway or path livens up an otherwise dull space. Typically, most gardeners use low-growing plants to line walkways because if someone accidentally treads off the path, stepping on a short plant is easier to recover from than crashing into a hedge.

    This list of 10 plants (mostly ground covers) are perfect for the areas right next to stone, concrete and pavers in lieu of bark or grass.

    Some of these plants will stay put next to the walkway while others will creep over or between the pavers for a softer look.

    Assess the Area

    Select plants according to sunlight and water needs, just as you would in any other part of your yard, however, if the plants are going to touch the walkway make sure that they are also sensitive to changes in temperature as stone can get very hot and cold.

    Most gardeners tend to underestimate the amount of foot traffic the plants might receive, especially if the ground cover is meant to creep between pathway pavers, so though the tendency is to select the plant you like while hoping for the best — try not to do this.

    Measure the space to figure out how many plants you need to buy in order to avoid going over budget or planting too far apart.

    Think about how much elbow grease you want to put in year-round and if the answer is none, go with evergreen plants.

    Does your dog like to lay next to the walkway? Consider these dog-friendly ground covers.

    10 Plants to Use Along Walkways

    1. Blue star creeper (pictured above) —

    Blue star creeper is semi-evergreen so not a great choice for very cold climates as it will lose its leaves, however, in the summer delicate, star-shaped, light-blue flowers bloom.

    It has a soft, lush appearance growing up to a few inches tall but it can take moderate foot traffic which makes it an excellent choice for growing between pavers on walkways.

    Grow it in sun or partial sun and transplant if need be.

    2. Ornamental thymes —

    An easy way to soften the edge of a walkway is to use an ornamental thyme such as wooley thyme, which grows in a dense mat of slightly fuzzy leaves.

    Most ornamental thymes flower, adding small specks of color in the summer, and are relatively low-maintenance plants.

    They can take some foot traffic (avoid in places with heavy foot traffic) but can also creep onto the walkway so plan enough space.

    3. Mondo grass —

    If you’re looking for a contemporary-looking border edging that’s popular in modern or zen gardens, try mondo grass, which also comes in a clumping dwarf form.

    Black mondo grass adds drastic contrast to otherwise green foliage by growing in round, symmetrical clumps.

    Mondo grass does not do well in cold climates, does not need pruning because it grows so slowly and it can be used in place of a traditional lawn.

    4. Beach strawberry —

    A relative to the beloved edible strawberry plant, this much smaller version has glossy leaves and a tendency to grow well in coastal areas, hence its name.

    Pretty white flowers yield red fruit that is sold as a delicacy in South America.

    Beach strawberry can take light foot traffic, is hailed as a native water-wise plant for low irrigation needs and sends out runners to sprout new plants.

    5. Creeping Jenny —

    Creeping Jenny comes in dark green or chartreuse and shoots long, busy stems over walkways to soften the look.

    It’s an evergreen plant that looks great year-round with the chartreuse version sending out tiny yellow flowers in the summer time.

    The plant doesn’t get more than about 6 inches tall but does like moist soil and light foot traffic.

    Plant with reds and dark greens for a tropical look.

    6. Hens and chicks —

    If clumsy guests, tricycles and pets aren’t going to veer off the walkway and you must have succulents, hens and chicks are popular choices.

    These drought-tolerant ground covers spread by growing multiple plants, come in a variety of colors and prefer sun, otherwise they fade to a light green.

    Some hens and chicks grow taller than others so make sure to check the height if you’d like them to rise to the same level as your walkway.

    7. Marigolds —

    Common marigolds grow up to 6 inches tall (though other versions grow quite tall so check the label) and though they shouldn’t be deliberately stepped on, they are hearty plants.

    Choose between yellow, white, red or gold flowers that bloom in mid-summer or mix and match for more color.

    Because of their scent, marigolds are thought to repel bugs naturally, including mosquitoes.

    The other upshot is that marigolds are fairly inexpensive plants to purchase so if a few suffer slug damage, then just replace them.

    8. Dymondia —

    This low-growing ground cover with silver-green leaves is also dog-friendly and perfect for growing between pavers.

    It’s only an inch tall, so make sure to raise the level of dirt next to the walkway or pavers if need be.

    Yellow flowers bloom in warm weather and it’s a moderate grower that can take neglect.

    9. Moss —

    For a truly lush look it is possible to seed moss in even the smallest cracks of a flagstone walkway or similar, which is also an excellent method of weed prevention.

    Even though moss doesn’t have true roots (its nutrients come from the air), it can withstand a decent amount of foot traffic, however, be mindful that it can be slippery.

    Moss likes moist conditions and shade, but some people do use it as a lawn replacement.

    10. Baby tears —

    Talk about an easy-to-care-for plant as baby tears can be grown in containers, between pavers and stone, as well as next to walkways as a border.

    Don’t expect flowers, because there aren’t any, but do expect to pretty much neglect this ground cover other than it likes indirect sunlight and moist soil.

    The small leaves are soft and dark green.

    Plants to Avoid

    Try to stay away from woody, vining plants like ivy as their stems can creep on to the walkway and trip people, plus frequently having to cut these plants back adds on unnecessary maintenance.

    And, of course, stay away from anything with thorns because no one wants guests leaving your home wearing Band-Aids.

    Other Tips

    Keeping areas next to your walkways planted also prevents weeds from growing.

    Consider fragrant plants in areas where guests will frequently wander and don’t be afraid to either work with a strict color palette or go bold by mixing and matching.


    Your Turn…

    Do you have any low-growing plants to add to the list that we may have missed? We would love to hear from you. Please do so in the comments below…

    Whether a small passageway or a primary walkway, paths do so much more than guide you from one place to another. A well-designed pathway brings a new perspective to the garden with an irresistible invitation to visually and mentally devour the treasures that unfold. It becomes the journey by which you can experience your garden while revealing a delightful story along the way.

    Paths serve a practical purpose, as well. They contribute structure and cohesion that interconnect your outdoor environment and pull the garden together. They provide direction — both literally and visually — whether leading down a side yard, wandering through a garden, or serving as the walkway that connects the front gate to the front door. What’s more, paths help keep your feet clean and dry. The journey may vary and the mood a path creates can differ. But the steps you take in building your path are much the same, whether the path is on the straight and narrow or created as an avenue of meandering curves.


    The need for a path often presents itself long before any plans are set into motion, such as a maintenance path for a border or bed, or a primary path leading to a destination like the front entry or garage. In such cases, your path may already be obvious because of existing travel patterns. But even if a trail isn’t clear, you can employ a path to transform an ordinary garden into an unfolding journey of discovery.

    For example, when planning a path that takes you through the garden to a focal point beyond — such as a bench, birdbath, or sculpture of interest — extend your stroll by creating curves that reveal an element of surprise around every corner. A winding path also gives pause to stop along the way and experience the garden unlike before. Create a sense of mystery about what lies beyond the bend by including some element inside each curve to serve as a visual blockade, such as an ornamental shrub, evergreen wall, a flowering vine clambering over an arbor, a large colorful pot or other hardscape item.

    Brick in a lattice pattern, lined with low hedges.

    Straight paths may not arouse the same mystique as a winding path, but they do offer the shortest passage to a specific destination. Their formal appeal creates a sense of balance with a no-nonsense approach that takes you from one point to the next. Placing a visual focal point (such as a water fountain or arbor) at the end of a straight path will help heighten its charm.


    Imagine if all clothes were made only from denim. Though this sturdy material is a workhorse fabric, it lacks the warmth of wool, the crisp lines of a cotton shirt or the luxurious feel of silk. Likewise, the type of path material you choose can set the tone for your walking experience along with the character of the path. Pine needles or bark may be a good choice for a side path in a woodland garden, but not as the main path leading to a Mediterranean courtyard or traditional home.

    Keep these four things in mind when deciding which material to use: accessibility of materials, how practical the material is to the setting, any safety issues (for example, ceramic tile and slate becomes slick when wet or icy, making them poor choices for frequently traveled paths), and how the material might complement your overall home and landscape design.

    Material options include brick, stone (such as flagstone or slate), tile, stamped concrete, concrete pavers, crushed rock and gravel along with wood planks or rounds. Other choices include wood chips, shredded bark, grass, crushed nutshells or seashells, or tumbled glass. For added interest, use a combination of materials, such as a border of pebbles around concrete pavers. You can also personalize surface materials with bits of sea glass or mosaic woven through or placed alongside the path.

    Weathering steel lined with shade-loving greenery.


    A dry-laid path — which uses surface materials dry-laid over packed sand or a combination of sand and crushed gravel — is easier to build than solid materials set in concrete or mortar. To construct a dry-laid path, first prepare the area by excavating the site and leveling the surface. Ensure proper drainage by sloping the path away from foundations and other permanent structures — about 1/4 inch per foot should be fine.

    Depending on the material chosen, you will need to dig out your path to a depth of 3 to 7 inches. Smaller depths will accommodate loose materials — such as bark, crushed gravel or stone — which can be set directly on firm soil. Solid materials are laid on top of a 2-inch base of sand, or 2-inch layer of crushed gravel followed by a 2-inch layer of sand. Always include the thickness of the surface material when calculating how deep you need to dig.

    If weeds are an issue, line the excavated pathway with landscape fabric or weed barrier (never plastic sheeting), then edge your path to keep surface materials in place once laid. Edging options include strips of metal or wood as well as bricks, concrete or stone. Next, fill the path with your base: a 2-inch layer of 3/4-minus crushed stone or gravel topped by a 2-inch layer of sand or stone dust raked smooth. Pack each layer down using a drum roller or hand tamper.

    Lay your pavers or surface material of choice, firmly setting them in place or tamping them down with a rubber mallet. Once the path material is in place, sweep sand between the pavers to fill in the small cracks. Larger cracks can be filled with decomposed granite, pebbles or gravel.

    Pavers and river rock.

    Now the only thing left to do is to soften the path edges with an intriguing mix of colorful and fragrant plants. Add an artfully placed bench or chair as well as a birdbath and/or bird feeder somewhere along the path. Then take a stroll with eyes wide open and watch the magic unfold.


    Once you’ve decided the direction your path will take, think about how that path will be used. Main garden paths and primary paths leading to entrance areas should be wide enough to allow two people to walk side by side: A minimum width of 4 feet is good; 5 feet is better. Plan on a width of 3 feet for garden paths, landscape paths for general use, or any path on which a wheelbarrow will travel. You can go even smaller on secondary or side paths, which are typically 2 feet wide. Be sure to factor in any plants that may crowd a path’s edge. Fences, tall hedges or a vine-covered trellis also can crowd a path. Placing paths at least 2 feet away from such structures will allow ample room for passers-by.


    Whether planting ground covers in the spaces between pavers or alongside a path’s edge, or bordering a pathway with fragrant and colorful herbs and flowers, always use a potting mix or amend your native soil to the consistency of a light potting mix. That way plants can easily establish their roots and quickly fill in the spaces.

    Blue Star Creeper (Pratia pedunculata)

    Check your local nursery or garden center for ground-hugging species that can handle foot traffic from occasional to heavy, or look for a tag that says “Stepables.” Here are some worthy candidates:

    ‘Green Carpet’

    (Herniaria glabra)


    miniature daisy

    (Bellium minutum)


    blue star creeper

    (Pratia pedunculata)


    Irish or Scotch moss

    (Sagina subulata


    S. subulata glabrata




    Arenaria montana


    Corsican mint

    (Mentha requienii)


    creeping thyme

    (Thymus praecox




    T. serpyllum)


    woolly thyme

    (Thymus pseudolanuginosus)

    Improve the growing conditions when you carve out the soil for your new stone path. It’s difficult to grow anything in a trampled area. The soil gets so compacted that roots cannot deliver water and nutrients to the plant. Add good drainage as well as a layer of topsoil at least 1 in. deep around the stones so your ground cover can thrive.

    Finally, help your new ground cover prosper with a weekly soaking (the plants need to stay moist) and a weekly hand weeding. And if you’d like to keep the plants short between the stones, consider varieties that tolerate mowing, such as thyme and ajuga.

    Next, check out our favorite flower bed ideas for full sun.

    Here are four common examples.

    Creeping Thyme
    Thymus serpyllum
    Zones: 4 through 9 (most of U.S.)
    Height: 2 to 4 in.
    Plant spreads 12 in.
    Full sun to shade
    Withstands heavy traffic

    Carpet Bugleweed
    Ajuga reptans
    Zones: 3 through 9
    Height: 4 to 6 in.
    Plant spreads 12 to 18 in.
    Full sun to partial shade
    Withstands moderate traffic

    Creeping Jenny
    (Creeping Charlie, Moneywort)
    Lysimachia nummularia
    Zones: 4 through 8
    Height: 2 to 4 in.
    Plant spreads 18 to 23 in.
    Partial shade
    Withstands moderate traffic

    Dead Nettle
    (Creeping Lamium)
    Lamium maculatum
    Zones: 4 through 8
    Height: 6 to 8 in.
    Plant spreads 12 to 23 in.
    Partial to full shade
    Withstands moderate traffic

    Flagstone Garden Path

    Plant plugs of your desired plants between the stones and they’ll fill in the gaps within a few years.

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