April 22, 2021 5 min read

Cheaper and hassle-free grass lawn alternatives? Yes, you read it just right.

Today’s lawns are a symbol of the American dream. Although originally created by European aristocrats in the 17th century as status symbols, they can be expensive and time-consuming through mowing, watering, feeding, weeding, and edging.

Traditional turf lawns come with some serious costs — like fuel for mowers, fertilizers and pesticides, not to mention the cost of hiring landscape professionals to care for your lawn. That is why many homeowners are now looking for grass lawns alternatives that require little or no water,  and are cheap, eco-friendly, and time-saving.

Are you one of them? Do you also want to save money and time, limit your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals, and still have a great-looking yard?

You are in the right place!

The  developing water shortage crisis in the U.S.  has prompted many homeowners to turn to low-maintenance lawn alternatives. The good news is there are plenty of options — everything from micro clover to flower beds are all sharing sustainability as a common denominator.

But wait - we understand that minimizing your turf lawn — or replacing it altogether — is a big project. But that will absolutely pay off and will benefit you in the long run.

You’ll have several different and unique lawn alternatives to choose from with their own set of benefits based on your lawn’s type, size, or growing region. Are you ready? Here we go!

Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

Creeping thyme, also known commonly as ‘Mother of Thyme,’ is an easily grown, spreading thyme variety, and a full sun lover. It is best grown in moderately fertile, average to dry and well-drained soil, but can also be grown in poor soil and isdrought tolerant.  

It is excellent planted as a lawn substitute as it releases a nice scent when it is walked on. It also attracts butterflies and adds character to rock gardens where it will sprawl beautifully  over small rocks. It grows up to 3 inches tall (8cm) and will spread overtime by up to 12 inches (30 cm). Creeping thyme is virtually pest and disease free. 

Groundcovers don't just provide color and interest in winter; they can also help control erosion and suppress weeds that try to sprout when the weather warms up. It’s not suitable for heavy foot traffic.


After a decade gracing European lawns, microclover has arrived in North America as the next big thing in lawn alternatives. Its tiny leaves are about one third the size of traditional clover, and it doesn’t clump together, making it look less like a weed and more like the even green lawns people love. 

Microclover is more drought tolerant and needs less fertilizer and mowing than most lawn grasses. This means it keeps your lawn looking greener and lusher throughout the spring and summer. It also flowers less than white clover, reducing the chances that children (and adults) will suffer bee stings when playing outside. 

At present, the seed can be somewhat costly for large areas, but homeowners can get around this by blending microclover with grasses and other plants. 

It doesn’t grow well in shade, so it is only suitable for areas receiving direct sunlight. 

In the old days, prior to the invention of chemical weed killers and fertilizers, microclover was included in lawn seed mixes. Microclover and grass actually work well together, as the clover pulls fertilizer out of the air and brings it down to the soil to be absorbed.

Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses and grass-like plants are valued in home landscapes for their hardiness, ease of care, dramatic appearance, and the wide variety of colors, textures, and sizes available. 

Ornamental grass replacements for lawns require less maintenance, as well as less water. Care varies by species, but might include trimming 2-3 times a season or annual pruning. If mulched while it grows in, it also requires no edging, minimal fertilization and easier weeding. Once established, watering requirements range from once or twice a week to zero supplemental watering.

Unlike lawn or turfgrass varieties, ornamental grasses are meant to grow—not be cut or mown—and most are not used as ground covers. Once you start landscaping with ornamental grasses you will be amazed by how many varieties, sizes, shapes, and colors are available. 

They sway easily in the wind, adding the appeal of movements and rustling sounds to the landscape. Their rapid growth and changing appearance throughout the year add seasonal interest.

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff plants (Galium odoratum) are primarily used as a flowering ground cover or edging for shady areas in a landscape. An often-forgotten herb that has star-shaped whorls of leaves and lacy white flowers, it can add interesting texture and spark to a deeply shaded part of the garden. 

It was originally grown for the fresh smell the leaves give off and was used as a type of air freshener. It has some medicinal uses and is also an edible plant that tastes like vanilla. 

Sweet woodruff is exceptionally easy to grow and readily adapts to a wide range for soil and moisture conditions. It is a deer-resistant plant and is considered one of the few rabbit-proof flowers. 

It quickly spreads by creeping roots and is self-seeding. It  can end up becoming too aggressive in some gardens if the conditions are ideal. Controlling the plant might require periodic mowing with alawnmowerset at a high blade height.

The plant can suffer in conditions that are too hot and dry, requiring water to resurrect it. However, withholding water also can be a means of taming its spread. It is generally a suitable ground cover for dry shade, and even full-blown drought rarely kills the plant. Furthermore, sweet woodruff typically has no serious issues with diseases or pests.

Sweet woodruff generally requires no feeding, but a new plant might benefit from an all-purpose fertilizer to help it get started, especially if soil conditions are poor. 


Curious about the name? Snow-in-summer is a perennial flower that gets its common name from its blooming habit. It blooms abundantly in the early summer with a blanket of notched pristine white flowers that suggest a fresh snowfall. 

This ground cover is just as admired for its delicate, woolly, silver leaves as for its charming flowers. Snow-in-summer makes an excellent ground cover for dry, sunny areas. 

This plant prefers full sun conditions. It can develop fungal problems in shady locations. It is often used in rock gardens or as a cover to fill in after spring bulbs are finished. It also can be used to fill in pockets in stone walls. 

It is very easy to maintain but will spread rapidly and may become invasive, even earning the nicknamemouse-ear chickweed. The plant spreads quickly by reseeding and sending out runners. However, a 5-inch (12.7 cm.) deep edge will usually keep this plant in its borders. 

This plant generally does not need feeding; it prefers rather poor soils.

Having a beautiful yard doesn't have to be too expensive and time-consuming!

If you’re looking for all-natural eco-friendly pest control products to help you with your new project, Kitchen Botanicals offers organic garden pest control products to protect your garden and create a balance of organisms.

Our garden insect control products reduce harm to pollinators and other beneficial insects, allowing them to protect your yard. 

Feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how to start? You’re not alone!Join our community to learn more, get some tips, be inspired or inspire others by sharing your experience with gardening .

We want to hear what your struggles and success are. Happy gardening!

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