Contribute photos of groundcovers that can replace lawns!



Lawn Reformers are getting lots of questions about specific plants that can be used en masse to create a low, lawn-like expanse in the landscape and we're frustrated by the lack of detailed, regionally specific information about the plants people are asking about – Carexes, buffalo grass, low-input grass mixes like No-Mow, and creeping perennials like Sedums and thymes.

SO, we've created a new Flickr group for photos of these plants in landscapes, with details like shade, sun, drought-tolerant, region and what maintenance may be required.  Check it out here – the Lawn Alternatives Flickr Group. 

Our goal is to create a searchable database to act as a resource for those looking for lawn substitutions appropriate for their own specific cultural conditions.  


We are interested in low-growing groundcovers up to two feet tall. Ideally, they will have been in the ground for at least two years. They can be mowable or not, but should be appropriate planted en masse.

(We are NOT looking for garden design alternatives such as a mix of perennials, gravel gardens, etc. Design alternatives to lawns may be shared at our FLickr group for No-Lawn, Small-Lawn and Alternative Lawn Gardens.)


  • NAME OF PLANT(s): Please title the photo with the plant depicted in it, like "Carex pensylvanica" – Latin and common names both if you know them. 
  • DESCRIPTION: The more information you can share, the better! At a minimum, include the location (Southwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, etc.), date of installation, and cultural conditions. Other helpful information includes maintenance required, how it was installed (seed, plugs, nursery pots or sod) and basic cultural conditions, such as amount of sun and water required. 


Again, the more the better, as this will greatly improve the search function of the site. Key tags to include are:

  • USDA Zone
  • Full Sun, Part Sun or Shade
  • Drought Tolerant, Low Water, Moderate Water
  • Evergreen, Deciduous
  • State and or region where the photo was taken
  • Native, if applicable


  • To contribute, first create a Flickr account if you don't already have one (it's free).
  • Within your Flickr account, please set your email notifications so that you'll be notified when someone comments on a photo (by saying yes to emails about "activity on you or your photos").  That way, you can answer questions that people may have about the plants you've posted about, and this resource will be even more helpful.


  • Landscape designers and landscape architects
  • Public gardens
  • Homeowners

Growers and nurseries may not post, although we encourage them to have homeowners or designers who have experience with their plants share their photos.

Like the one in this photo?  Please upload it to our other Flickr group – for No-Lawn,  Small-Lawn and Alternative Lawn Gardens.

Top photos, from left: Prairie dropseed, UC Verde Buffalo grass, and Liriope spicata.  Lower photo and garden by Pam Penick in Austin, TX.


  1. Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’ would make an excellent lawn replacement for shade to part shade. Drought tolerant. It grows 8 to 10 inches tall. It’s green early in spring, and the foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season. I don’t believe I’ve ever had to weed in an established patch of this plant.

    But I haven’t used it as a lawn replacement yet. Here’s a photo of it growing on my boulevard/hell strip.

    Doing a google image search, I found this page that features a photo of G. macrorrhizum covering a large area.

  2. This is a great idea, but please do include at least the USDA zone for each picture so we have an idea at a glance if the plant might grow in our gardens.

  3. really? no lawns? i dote on garden rant and really appreciate you all’s activism, but where do modern kids get to play and learn to appreciate bugs, grass, flowers, trees, and clouds if not for lawns?

  4. Ellen, I agree, and lawns will always be with us – that’s why the Lawn Reform Coalition isn’t JUST about replacing lawns but about more sustainable types of turfgrass, and eco-friendly care of all lawns. Some in the Coalition are definitely anti-lawn – and they tend to live in desert climates where – but I’m not. I got rid of my own lawn simply because I was bored with it.

    I just reread your comment and have to add that while lawn is usually best for play, more diverse types of gardens/yards are probably better for teaching kids about bugs, flowers and trees, right?

  5. GREAT idea… I want to replace my small yard with a sustainable grass my kids can play on, but won’t turn to a brown scrubland every summer. I can’t figure out which would work (Buffalo grass? Dunno!). I don’t want to water it for an hour every two days just to keep it usable!

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