Grass is a perfect option for most yards. Depending on the type of grass and frequency of watering or rainfall, a lawn may need to be cut once or twice a week during the growing season. Consider replacing the grass in a small yard or a portion of a large yard with low-growing evergreen plants. These plants help reduce erosion and require little to no maintenance compared to grass. By choosing evergreen plants, the green color lasts year-around. Some plants even provide flowers.
Buglewood (Ajuga reptans), also known as carpetweed, grows to about 6 inches tall. Buglewood is cold hardy in USDA planting zones 4 through 10a. In the spring, 6-inch tall spikes of blue, white, or pink blooms appear. For added interest, look for varieties where the glossy leaves are red, yellow, or pink. Buglewood prefers shade, but will grow in full sun in northern planting zones.
Dwarf juniper (Juniperus procumbens) grows to about 18 inches tall. This low-growing groundcover is an evergreen shrub that spreads 4 to 6 feet. Dwarf juniper in cold hardy in USDA planting zones 5 to 9. The shrub grows in full sun to part shade. A big plus for choosing dwarf juniper as a replacement for grass is that this evergreen can handle dry to moist soil conditions.
Trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis) is a perennial is USDA planting south of zone 7. If you live in or north of USDA zone 8, trailing lantana grows as an annual. Blooms of purple or white display from late spring to first frost. This drought-tolerant plant grows about 1 foot tall and 4 feet wide. Plant in full sun.
Lily turf (Liriope muscari) is a perennial grass. The long, slender leaves are variegated (creamy center surrounded by green) and stand out in the landscape. Lily turf is cold hardy in USDA planting zones 5 through 10. The plants form a root ball that can be dug up and divided about every three years to increase coverage area. In late summer to early fall, spirals of lavender colored flowers display. For a dense array of green leaves, set plants about 12 inches apart in full sun to part shade. In early spring, mow or cut back the plants to the clump level.
Big Leaf Periwinkle
Big leaf periwinkle (Vinca major) grows quickly to a height of about 12 inches. Suitable for USDA planting zones 6 through 9, periwinkle prefers partial shade to full shade. The dark green leaves are 1 to 3 inches long. In the spring, big leaf periwinkle sets 2-inch blue blooms.
Source: Ground Covers, Texas Agrilife Extension Service, Texas A&M System
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