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’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 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.
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 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