Groundcovers are plants that grow thick and close to the ground but, unlike lawns, don't require mowing. Some groundcovers are sturdier and better able to withstand foot traffic than others, so when choosing a groundcover (or any plant), be sure to match its requirements for sun, soil, water and hardiness with the characteristics of your yard.
Some groundcover species can be added to an existing grass lawn to create diversity and reduce your need for external inputs. For example, dutch white clover, thyme, and chamomile. Clover is especially beneficial because it takes nitrogen from the air and fixes it in the soil, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers. For more detailed information on the benefits of clover, and how to establish it in your lawn, please visit the Ecology Action Centre's Pesticide Bylaw Project webpage.
If you happen to live near a natural area, it is important to choose groundcovers that are non-invasive. Some species, like periwinkle, have a reputation for completely taking over a forest floor, displacing the native woodland species that would otherwise be found there.
Image provided by the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens, Acadia University