Ground cover to walk on

by Matt Gibson

When you’re considering groundcovers for your yard, is it walkable? Add some color and character to your yard that’s sure to turn heads. Instead of grass, try out the following walkable groundcovers in your lawn or garden beds. Having a nice, well-cut and meticulously maintained lawn without a ton of weeds is fine. A maintained lawn that is obviously cared for with great attention to detail is quite rare these days. But lawns with more eye catching groundcovers will make your yard stand out from the crowd.

Grassless landscaping is on the rise, and other groundcover options are becoming more and more popular. Groundcovers add more texture and color than standard lawns, and have the added benefit of making mowing a thing of the past and landscaping a breeze.

Groundcovers are plants that grow wider than they do tall. Some of our favorites are listed here. These “steppables” are more colorful than grass lawns, they generally require less care than grass, and many provide a nice aroma as well. There are way too many different groundcovers to choose from, but these are our very favorites. Sink your feet in.

Sedum is tough enough to stand up to foot traffic and very easy to care for. Sedum loves the sun and is resistant to heat and drought, so it’s perfect for warmer climate areas that get a lot of direct sunlight. Sedum grows in many different varieties. The best types for groundcovers are the shorter strains. Try Blue Spruce, Dragon’s Blood, Tricolor, Fuldaglut or Kamtschaticum for zones 3 through 9. As an added benefit, most of these produce flowers in the summer that will attract pollinators.

Creeping Jenny

Creeping Jenny’s golden leaves look similar to coins, giving it the nickname moneywort. Creeping Jenny prefers direct sunlight or light shade, can take a good deal of foot traffic, and will thrive with very little care as long as it’s not allowed to totally dry out. In the spring, Creeping Jenny produces pretty yellow flowers that bring in the birds and the bees, and the plant performs well in zones 3 through 8.


Not all varieties of thyme work as a groundcover, but the ones that do offer a beautiful and fragrant lawn bedding that prefers direct sunlight and needs little care. Try mother of thyme, wooly thyme, or creeping thyme for zones 5 through 9. Bonus—your groundcover will provide tasty herb cuttings you can use in cooking.


Soapwort actually got its name because the plant used to be made into soap, as it makes a lather naturally when the leaves come in contact with water. It also makes a fantastic groundcover for zones 3 through 9 and produces pink, red, or white flowers in the spring.


For a dense, bright green bedding with lavender flowers reminiscent of orchids, mazus is a perfect groundcover for zones 5 through 8. You’ll want to keep mazus out of high-traffic areas, however, as it can only handle light foot traffic.

Corsican Mint

Corsican mint prefers sunlight and a bit of shade to direct sun during periods of extreme heat. Its lovely fragrance makes this mint variety a wonderful groundcover—the scent is quite strong after someone lightly trods upon it. Zones 6 through 9 are perfect for Corsican mint. Though the blooms are so tiny that you might not even see them without close inspection, Corsican mint produces tiny lilac flowers in the late summer. Corsican mint does require a bit of maintenance and some light watering when rainfall is scarce.

Creeping Phlox

The needlelike leaves of creeping phlox look great year-round in zones 4 through 8, but just after winter, in early spring, the entirety of the plant becomes plastered with blue, purple, rose, white, or bicolor flowers. Phlox preferes direct sunlight and well-drained soil, and it’s durable enough to walk on throughout the year.


White blooms pop up in the summer against the contrast of gray-to-silvery foliage, which is sure to catch the eyes of passersby. Snow-in-summer prefers very well-drained soil, making it perfect for slopes or rock gardening. This groundcover option does need a bit of care as it requires pruning after the flowering season to prevent it from becoming invasive. Snow-in-summer prefers cooler climates and thrives in zones 3 through 7.

Scotch Moss

Scotch moss doesn’t seem like it can stand up to foot traffic. However, like memory foam, scotch moss just pops right back in place after being stepped on. Thriving in zones 4-8, scotch moss needs lots of water during the summer and comes with a nice bouquet of tiny white flowers in the spring.


The blooms of portulaca come in a wide variety of colors. Like scotch moss, the needlelike leaves of portulaca pop back into place after you step on them. Great in zones 9 through 11, the blooms of portulaca are a sight to behold. Though a bit of trimming is necessary if you want to use portulaca as a groundcover, but once you see it in bloom, you’ll agree that it’s well worth the hassle. Though many groundcovers are meant to be walked on, some are more durable than others— with enough foot traffic, even grass will start to wear thin. Take a look at your lawn, and take note of where the most heavily used areas are. Consider adding some stepping stones in those areas to keep foot traffic on plants to a minimum. The stepstones are not a mandatory addition, however, as the many groundcovers listed here can stand up to some stepping

Want to Learn More about Groundcovers?

Better Homes & Gardens covers Walkable Groundcovers

Fine Gardening covers Plants for Pathways

High Country Gardens covers Groundcovers You Can Step On

Timber Press covers Ground Covers You Can Walk On

Ground Covers – Walkable and Worthy Alternatives to Grass

Groundcovers – Walkable and Worthy

There are dozens of great options if you are looking for an alternative to grass, or a supplement for your gardening needs! Here are some ideas that will not only make your yard pop with beauty, add fluffy and varied texture, flowering beauty, rich colors, and just about all of these you can walk on a little, or maybe even a lot! And as a bonus most are not as thirsty as grass and can even be considered drought tolerant or requiring less water than grass.

Chocolate Chip – If it sounds like chocolate it’s good for me! You’ll love this one, formally known as Ajuga because it will grow in shady spots like under a tree. It has dark green leaves with bronzeish coloring, hence the Chocolate name. And the flowers are gorgeous. Purple to blue that stand about 4 inches high! This one is not drought tolerant but it’s deer resistant and it can handle occasional walking on it.

Silver Kisses – Another great name! It offers tiny daisies that are just 1 to 2 inches tall in the Spring and Summer. It likes full sun for that showtime, but it will self-seed and keep going once it’s up and running. And if you have clay soil, Silver Kisses are for you!
I love the foliage too that has a silver fern look to it! This one is drought tolerant, can handle occasional daily foot traffic but it is not deer resistant.

Rupture Wort – Green Carpet
This plant is super tough and like a carpet can handle heavy foot traffic areas. The foliage is nice and green and turns bronze-red in the winter. And while it delivers tiny white blossoms, they are so small it won’t attract bees. And the added bonus it is just about as rugged as grass.

Count it to need less water cause it’s drought tolerant too and loves partial shade to sun.

Blue Star Creeper – This can be used instead of lawn in a number of places, in the garden, on pavers, in containers or near the pool. The pretty blue blooms that look like little stars last just about all season and in warmer climates it can remain evergreen all year. But if you live in a hot part of the country it will need some share in the summer. This is also almost as rugged as grass but it likes some water and can handle full sun to partial shade.

Creeping Wire Vine
Not the most attractive name but if you have a rock garden you will love this groundcover option. It spreads quickly and you can mow it once a year to freshen and thicken it! The round leaves turn bronze color in the fall. It is really low maintenance not caring much about soil quality or much water and loves full sun to part shade and yes it is almost as sturdy as grass, plus deer are not attracted to this!

Scotch Moss loves clay soil and even needs it! IT’s the moss with that gorgeous lime- to yellow color in its leaves! It delivers star shaped white flowers in the spring and looks great against grey stone.
Irish moss is less fussy about the type of soil. And stays a deep green color with fluffy foliage.
Both mosses like full sun to partial shade but they also like water and believe it or not for as delicate as it appears, these mosses are almost as sturdy as grass so don’t let them fool you!

John Creech

The spreading, low growing sedums are standards in rock gardens, where they spill over the stones and seem to require no care what-so-ever. They are also a varied lot, with succulent like foliage in round or spiky leaves tinted blue, yellow, purple and emerald green. They form tight mats that usually don’t get taller than 6″, and reach that height only when in bloom. Sedums are capable of rooting along their stems, where they make contact with the ground. The foliage may get darker in the fall and is very often evergreen. They can be a bit slick to walk on, but are nice between pavers and encircling patios.

White Diamonds– Okay, you had me at White Diamonds ( I’m mixing mine with the Chocolate Chips) This ground cover is as gorgeous as it sounds with little sparkles that shimmer when water hits its leaves. It offers small white star like flowers in the summer and the foliage is almost blue and the star in this ground cover! It loves full sun to partial sun and can handle occasional foot traffic. And the added bonus it doesn’t require much watering!

Bird’s Foot Trefoil ( we are calling Truffle) – It offers small yellow to orange flowers in the summer over the green foliage that is a great option as an alternative to grass. It does great in clay soil and you can even mow near it or on it! It loves full sun to partial shade and doesn’t require much water! And as an added bonus or two, it has a nice fragrance and yet it is deer resistant.
Mazus – If you are a purple person you must have Mazus in your garden! Tiny flowers but a dense mat of deep bluish purple flowers with yellow centers! They look a bit like snag dragons! It’s not invasive and works great in a rock garden. There is also a white variety. For all this beauty it does require moist soil but you can walk on it occasionally and it works in full sun to partial shade.

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Ground Covers – Walkable and Worthy Alternatives to Grass

Top 7 Plants You Can Use For High Traffic Areas

Won’t it be perfect if no one trampled your landscape? But it sounds too good to be true right? Well, you might not be able to ensure that people stay on the landscape paths and they don’t opt for shortcuts through the landscape but there is a way out.

You just need to add a few types of plants that offer beauty as well as toughness in your high-traffic landscape. Want to know about these amazing plants? Just keep scrolling!

  1. Creeping Blue Mazus or Mazus Reptans

These are a perfect option to add between the stepping stones. You can even use them as a lawn substitute. It thrives in part sun or full sun. This plant blossoms in May and June with pale purple flowers that have yellow and white speckled centers.

  1. Ajuga Reptans or Burgundy Glow Ajuga

It is also known as the bugle weed. It spreads quickly and features green and creamy white variegated leaves that have lilac blooms. It prefers part shade or full shade.

  1. Ice Plant or Delosperma

This plant can grow well in heat or drought prone areas as it loves full sun. It also has succulent-like foliage which is in vogue at the moment. This plant is very easy to grow and it blooms June through September with daisy-like flowers.

It is also an excellent option that can be used for tumbling over a wall, between stepping stones or as a ground cover because it has a cascading growth habit. Apart from being perfect for foot traffic, it is also excellent for use in the front border of a landscaped bed or a container.

  1. Golden Creeping Jenny or Lysimachia Nummularia

It is a very fast spreader with cheerful and bright foliage. It will brighten the rock garden or look wonderful between stepping stones. You can also use it as a container plant as it spills prettily over the edges of your pots.

  1. Moss Pinks or Phlox Subulata

This plant usually blooms in mid or late spring but can create a carpet of pink or purple blooms. Its foliage is evergreen that adds great texture to various paths and rock gardens. This is considered as one of the toughest ground covers for flower lovers.

  1. Sedum

As there are too many varieties of Sedum, all of them can’t be mentioned here. But it is assured that any variety you pick will serve as the perfect option for high foot traffic areas.

Two Best Choices of Landscape Experts

The two best options chosen by scores of skillful landscapers are Sedum Floriferum ‘Weihenstephaner Gold’ and Sedum Rupestre ‘Angelina’.

The former one offers yellow golden flowers in June and July. In the fall, the finely textured, fleshy foliage usually turns red.

‘Angelina’ a beautiful option as well. The tips of this almost neon yellow evergreen typically turn reddish-orange during the months of fall and winter. It blooms with yellow flowers during the early summer period.

  1. Creeping Thyme

Many people love Thymus praecox ‘Pink Chintz’. It is a low grower that starts blooming in May and June. When you choose this option, tiny pink flowers will cover the fuzzy leaves. It is also a drought-tolerant plant.

You can even step on it and then sniff it. When you do, you will be rewarded with an herby and pleasing scent. So, it’s a nice option for places that have heavy foot traffic.

How to Use Plants to Direct Foot Traffic

You can use plants to direct pedestrians in high foot traffic areas. An easy way is to plant thorny barberries and pyracantha as a way to direct the pedestrian traffic away from the landscaped beds while encouraging people to use an existing path because obviously, no one prefers to get snagged by thorns.

It is also a good idea to use a grouping of large planters which can steer people in the direction you want them to opt for. In some cases, rows of closely-planted shrubs or hedges are also excellent for keeping people out.

No matter which option seems best to you, you should talk to a landscape expert before making a decision so that you can choose only viable plants for high traffic areas that need minimal maintenance.

Herb ground covers such as creeping thyme make fragrant stepables for a large lawn or hillside you are wanting to plant, you might want to consider a bulk . Understanding which is the best for foot traffic is key for any garden. and carpeting, the garden is more beautiful when we use groundcovers to cover bare ground. How a given groundcover holds up under foot, is a key consideration when. And as a bonus most are not as thirsty as grass and can even be considered It offers tiny daisies that are just 1 to 2 inches tall in the Spring and Summer. This one is drought tolerant, can handle occasional daily foot traffic but it is not deer.

STEPABLES are problem solving creeping perennials that alleviate every day landscaping All Terrain Ground Covers will help you succeed with your larger. STEPABLES. Our Project Perfect® All Terrain Ground™ Cover plant line contains over 40 Consider what your site will look like in the middle of summer. This is the most stressful time of year for plants due to lack of water and high heat. Instead of building a solid brick or concrete walkway, consider adding a living Many mat-forming plants are also tough enough to tolerate light foot traffic. just 3 inches tall but pacts a big impact when it spreads across the ground surface.

This is considered as one of the toughest ground covers for flower lovers. You can use plants to direct pedestrians in high foot traffic areas. Walkability: Very tolerant of heavy foot traffic once established, but its Plants stay low to the ground (from 1 to 6 inches tall, depending on. Plants that can tolerate foot traffic deserve a spot in every garden. to Zone 3 and is a fast growing ground cover plant perfect for paths. Growing inches tall and inches wide, this pathway plant likes to stay moist.

Understanding which is the best for foot traffic is key for any garden. and carpeting, the garden is more beautiful when we use groundcovers to cover bare ground. How a given groundcover holds up under foot, is a key consideration when. And as a bonus most are not as thirsty as grass and can even be considered It offers tiny daisies that are just 1 to 2 inches tall in the Spring and Summer. This one is drought tolerant, can handle occasional daily foot traffic but it is not deer. Tiny plants that tolerate foot traffic, plant in place of lawns, use in rock herniaria glabra- green carpet rupturewort drought tolerant, high traffic, good for kids and.

Stepables Plants for Pathways Boost Curb Appeal >>>> Let’s face it, not all plants can . Red Creeping Thyme. grows 3 inches tall max. no mowing needed ever. beautiful .. I have what I would call a normal size bird bath & I use 7 pennies. COM – Plants that tolerate foot traffic Ground Covering, Lawn And Garden. To choose the right plants for pathways, consider each plant’s foot-traffic USDA Hardiness Zones 5–9), a 1-inch to 3-inch-tall ground cover, is good for use in a. Low-Maintenance Lawn Alternatives: Ground Cover If you want a yard that demands less time, money, and water, consider these Others grow up to two feet tall, making them ideal as barriers or landscape punctuation. Look for In fact, a clover lawn (or, for high-traffic areas, a clover-grass mix) has many advantages.

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