Replacing lawn


I have dismal grass in my small back yard that I’d like to replace with ground cover. I have a strip of vegetables and flowers on the sunnier side, and a strip of hostas and solomon seal which grow well on the shadier side that I want to keep. The grassy part in the middle is partial sun, fairly sandy soil, weedy. What’s a low maintenance, attractive ground cover I can keep under control. I don’t want it to take over my vegetable/flower bed. Is clover good? Other suggestions? Can ground cover handle some light walking? Do I need to pull out the grass first, which is very patchy, or can I just seed/plant something? Hopefully maintenance will be much easier than mowing, which I hate! Thanks.



Thanks for your question.

I’ve got a few resources for you to look through. The first comes from the City of Guelph. They list a wide variety of native and non-native choices and for most of them tell you what kind of foot traffic it can take and moisture and sun needs. Clover is the only one that will stand up to heavy foot traffic and dog pee. There are a few more that will tolerate medium food traffic.

Toronto Master Gardeners have a gardening guide on broad-leaf ground covers but I don’t think most of these will stand up to being walked on. Maybe you can have more than 1 type of ground cover and in low traffic areas you could use one of these.

This link has information from another Toronto Master Gardener about what ground covers not to choose as some are invasive.…for-garden-ditch/

Ground covers will be less work than grass after the first few years. At first you will need to weed the ground-cover area and you will need to water more at first too, until the plants get established.

Clover has many  advantages and a few disadvantages. For the most resistance to food traffic, a grass clover combination is best. That could be easier for you as you can overseed your patchy grass without having to dig it up for a 100% clover lawn. Rake lawn roughly, perhaps apply top soil and then seed with clover and water. This might require a little weeding first – dandelions, plantain and other large-leaf weeds, if you have them.

Here is an article by Bob Vila on the pros and cons of clover.

Good luck with your project.