Alternatives To Grass: Learn About Lawn Alternatives In Cold Climates

Patch Of Rocks And Moss
moss lawn
(Image credit: Chris Steer)

Maintaining a lawn is a lot of work and when you add up the cost of water, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides you'll find that it is also expensive. Read on to find out about cold area grass alternatives that are easy on your budget and your time.

Alternatives to Grass

Groundcovers and other lawn alternatives in cold climates are easier to care for and more environmentally friendly than traditional lawns. When you replace your lawn with plants that don't need mowing, you eliminate the exhaust that your lawnmower and string trimmer produce. In addition, you won't need the lawn chemicals that can seep into groundwater and runoff. Here are some cold hardy plants for lawns:

  • Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia)- Pussytoes are sturdy plants that grow well in poor soil and never need watering. Pale pink blossoms appear in spring atop plants that range from 6 to 18 inches (15-46 cm.) tall.
  • Wild Ginger (Asarum canadensa)-These quick-spreading plants survive winters in the coldest climates. Wild ginger grows about 6 inches (15 cm.) tall and needs supplemental water in dry climates.
  • Angelita Daisy (Hymenoxys acaulis)- The one foot (31 cm.) tall, pine-like foliage of Angelita daisy plants looks great year-round and the bloom season lasts a long time. It's best for small areas. Angelita daisy needs occasional watering in dry climates and frequent deadheading.
  • Prostrate Juniper (Juniperus sp.)- These short shrubs grow about 2 feet (61 cm.) tall, and they are great for wide areas. They can grow up to 5 feet (1.5 m.) wide and need constant cutting back if they are planted in narrow areas. Otherwise, they rarely need pruning. They need an occasional rinse with the hose to get rid of spider mites. Full sun scalds prostrate juniper in USDA zones warmer than 5.

Other Cold Area Grass Alternatives

Various types of mulch also provide alternatives to lawns. Stone and gravel mulch look good in most settings. Shredded bark or hardwood are organic mulches that have a more natural look, and they add nutrients to the soil as they break down. Organic mulches look best in a natural or woodland setting. Mosses are another cool region lawn substitute that you might consider. These tiny plants form a lush carpet that needs very little maintenance, but the cost is higher than most groundcovers-- unless you plant some already growing on your property. Moss can add a feeling of peace and tranquility to your landscape, especially when mixed with pavers or stones.

Jackie Carroll

Jackie Carroll has written over 500 articles for Gardening Know How on a wide range of topics.