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Walkable lawns

Plants that make great lawn alternatives

Whether you want to turn your lawn into a new low-water walkable surface or a mosaic of grassy or blooming perennials, there are plenty of plants to choose from.

White clover is a walkable lawn alternative that works in sun or shade and does not show pet stains. Photo: Ian Baldwin
White clover is a walkable lawn alternative that works in sun or shade and does not show pet stains. Photo: Ian Baldwin
These walkable lawn alternatives use a fraction of the water of conventional lawns. Plus, some are useful in special situations:

  • White clover does not show pet stains.
  • UC verde buffalo grass and Catlin sedge only need mowing once a year.
  • Dymondia is super durable.
  • Kurapia's long roots make it a good choice for hillsides and slopes.
  • Thyme has a lovely fragrance.
  • Red fescue and white clover work in shade.
  • Native Mow Free works in part-shade.

Mendocino reed grass is an attractive California native plant that makes a lovely naturalistic lawn alternative. Photo: Marie Narlock
Mendocino reed grass is an attractive California native plant that makes a lovely naturalistic lawn alternative. Photo: Marie Narlock
These ornamental grasses are not necessarily walkable, but they come in an array of sizes, shapes, and colors. There are many ways to use them:

  • Plant bulbs between grasses for a seasonal meadow effect.
  • Mix with flowering perennials to attract hummingbirds, bees, and beneficial insects.
  • Place among low-growing groundcovers for easy, low-maintenance mix.
  • Place near rocks, boulders, or gravel for attractive contrast.
  • Use as edging for paths and patios.