Our Alternate Ground Covers

June 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Mr. E and I are no gardeners, but we enjoy dabbling with our yard. We inherited quite a bit of landscaping from our builder, mostly flowering pear trees and a few bushes, and we’re mostly content with it. Other than that, we’d like to keep our yard fairly natural. By that we mean that we do not mind some plants native to this area taking root, and when we do plant stuff, we try to introduce plantings native to the North East.

One of my very-long-term projects is to use native plants we like in landscaping. I’ve already moved some of them to a new location, trying to propagate them, and will do more eventually.

I especially enjoy seeing what kinds of plants come up and where. To my surprise, in the five years (or so) that we’ve lived here, a few different very low-growing plants have been making inroads on our lawn.

Violets were the first that I identified, early on. We’re getting a bit of a meadow of them on the backyard:

Meadow of Violets

They are definitely spreading. Most of our violets are white and very delicate. Then we have a few plants I cannot I.D.


Ground Cover1


Ground Cover2


Ground Cover3

It’s possible that one and two are two different stages of the same plant; I haven’t checked their growth patterns that obsessively. Three tends to pop up near the edges of our tree enclosures, just like this unidentified small flowering stalk:

Small Unidentified Blossoming Plant

In addition, we have white clover growing close to the ground, plus on the shady sides of our house there is some moss. They all seem to survive mowing just fine. Mowing and manual weeding are the extent of our lawn care – no grub killers, no weed-be-gones, no fertilizer apart from clippings (which we leave on the ground after mowing) and no water apart from rain.

All of these ground covers do have a visual impact. The photo below shows grass plus clover and ground cover one (from above). Clover is the darker green around the middle of the photo, and the ground cover one is the lighter green below it. In the bottom left corner there is also some broadleaf plantain.

Front Lawn w Different Groundcovers

The broadleaf plantain is perhaps more unsightly than the others, but the rabbits that visit our yard seem to enjoy them, so we leave them as a living buffet. 🙂 You can definitely see the variation in the lawn, though, especially after rain and when one area of growth is new, like in the photo above. Nevertheless, I find that I don’t mind the low-growing non-grass ground covers, and Mr. E agrees. We rather enjoy the native variety. I’m no expert, but I would guess that a lawn with more variety is also more disease and drought resistant, and able to bounce back after calamities. Clover is definitely good for the soil, so that we will keep no matter what.

Edit: Edited for clarity.


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