Something other Than Grass – Part IV – Low Water Groundcover

In my first story of the series Something Other Than Grass, I discussed that there are plants that can be used as an alternative to grass. The alternative species include:

· Ornamental Grasses
· Plants that love the shade
· Plants that love sun
· Low water ground covers
· Acid-Tolerant Plants

I noted that ornamental grasses were different species than turf grass and that many of them did not require mowing. I pointed out that there were types of ornamental grasses that grow into tufts and sprays, stands or flowing and shimmering sweeps.

In Part II of the series, I discussed other alternatives to grass that do well in the shade. This includes moss, Creeping Charlie, also known as ground ivy, gill-on-the-ground, creeping jenny, catsfoot, alehoof and tunhoof.

In Part III I discussed alternatives to grass that thrive in sunlight. I noted that one of the best species with this capability to serve as a substitute for grass is Thyme. For example, it thrives in direct sunlight or in partly sunny locations. The plant creates a mat-like ground cover that showcases some colors and it can resist low amount of foot traffic. Moreover, the flora spreads easily and requires less water than grass.

In Part IV of the series, I will discuss low water ground covers that serve as great alternatives to grass.

One plant you may not consider is Anemone. Although it is not considered to be a ground cover, this plant acts like it is. It flourishes in late spring and in the fall it blossoms. It grows about 2-inches wide and does extremely well in the Rocky Mountain region.

It features rhizome, a continuous growing underground stem that offers lateral shoots and adventitious roots in intervals. It does well in an assortment of soil conditions and also performs well in partial shade to sunny locations and in dry soil. Also known as windflower, it serves well in a rock garden and flourishes in zones 4-9.

By the way, they should not be consumed because they are poisonous in large quantities.

Stonecrop is another good flora for this purpose. There are a variety that showcases a range of colors including green, yellow and red. The flower varies in height, showiness, and color. Several species grow low on the ground and can thrive in poor, stony soil in hot, dry environments and very cold winters. It performs well in alkaline western dirt or more acidic soils.

Some varieties of stonecrop you may want to consider include:

· Borsch’s Stonecrop. This is a short-lived perennial that have stems that ascend from short rootstock between 4cm to 12cm. The leaves are oval and about 2mm to 6mm long. The flowers feature yellow petals and are about 5mm to 7mm long. It thrives in central Washington south to north central Oregon and east to

Entire Leaf Stonecrop (Courtesy: Ian Brookes at

Entire Leaf Stonecrop
(Courtesy: Ian Brookes at

Lanceleaf Stonecrop (Courtesy: Em Meier at

Lanceleaf Stonecrop
(Courtesy: Em Meier at

western Idaho and Montana.
· Entire-Leaf Stonecrop. An Herbaceous plant, it grows 3cm to 5cm tall with leaves that appear similar to blades and are oval and taper at each end. The pedals are dark red and sometimes yellowish at the base and include erect pistillate flowers and 4mm to 9mm fruit. It thrives in western North America south to California and New Mexico.
· Gold-Moss. Flora that includes 2cm to 10cm long erect stems that may be branched and 3mm to 5mm long oval leaves attached to a base without a stalk with yellow petals that are 4mm to 5mm long and spreads 5mm to 6mm. Native to Europe, the species was introduced to much of the northern United States adjacent to Canada.
· Lanceleaf Stonecrop. Flora with 5mm to 20mm creeping branched stems with short, leafy sterile shoots. Showcases flowers with yellow petals and tapered leaves. It thrives in Alaska south to Canada, California and Nebraska.
· Narrow-Petal Stonecrop. It features 2cm to 15cm erect or ascending stems that are clustered from a woody short-branch. It features 4mm to 20mm oblong leaves and flowers with 2mm to 3mm red oval petals. It flourishes in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada south to Colorado and California.
· Red-Pod Stonecrop. It features 10cm to 35cm erect or ascending stems that are clustered from a short wooden branch, 10mm to 25mm long leaves with pink petals that are 7mm to 10mm long. It thrives in Montana south to Utah, Colorado, and Arizona.
· Water Pigmy-Weed. A small glabrous annual with 1cm to 4cm prostrate to ascending stems, 3mm to 6mm long leaves that are united around the stem and solitary flowers with 1mm to 2mm long white petals. That is distributed in a spotty manner throughout the northern hemisphere of North America.
· Weak-Stemmed Stonecrop. A glabrous perennial herb that features decumbent, branched stems that bear erect rosette blossoms with 4mm to 7mm elliptic blade pale green, speckled pink, or pink or red leaves and straw colored, purple striped fruit. Thrives in Idaho to Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah.

Weak Stem Stonecrop

Weak Stem Stonecrop (Courtesy: Myrna Attaway at

(Next time: Acid-Tolerant Plants)


Written by Robert Janis for LawnEq - Your specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable manufacturers.