When Grass won't grow - Try one of these three Turf alternative groundcovers | PITH + VIGOR by Rochelle Greayer

Welcome to the

Pith   Vigor



the Book



Hey There! I’m Rochelle Greayer. I’m a garden designer on TV and IRL. I’m also an author and entrepreneur who thinks she can save the world by teaching everyone a little something about landscape design.



REgister now!

A Free Master Class



Cultivate Your Garden Style


Join the Course Today!

Mix & match plants like a pro!

Do you wish for more great garden magazines in the world? 


So I made some... 


Get IT Now!

Print copies have sold out, but you can still access the digitized 6 Issue Downloadable Collection. 

When Grass won’t grow – Try one of these three Turf alternative groundcovers

proven winners creeping thyme for grass replacement - by rochelle greayer www.pithandvigor.com

We’ve had two straight weeks of rain and constant drizzle and I still can’t get that grass to take root.

Stick a fork in it – I’m done.

That grass isn’t the nice easy stuff that grows just about anywhere else in my garden – all I need to do is spread a little seed. That grass (pronounced through the gritted teeth of frustration) is the culmination of a few years of trying every gimmick, variety, and installation method the turf grass industry offers, and still, I look out upon a couple of weedy tufts and dust.

proven winners ajuga reptans burgundy glow - replacing grass with rochelle greayer www.pithandvigor.com


I’m not sure why that grass  won’t grow – certainly a variety of factors are at play (soil, slope, moisture, exposure, etc) but I’ve finally decided to quit.  As I become the ever-more seasoned gardener, I’ve learned that not only can you not win in a battle with mother nature, but often, the best way forward is to find a mutually agreeable third-party solution.  I think of it as garden diplomacy.  I want lush ground cover (grass) – she (mother nature) doesn’t – so we must find an alternative.

proven winners lamium - replacing grass with rochelle greayer www.pithandvigor.com

I have decided to take a cue from what I see working. I’m hoping that these are options that thrive in a way that grass does not.

  1. Elfin Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) – A few years back, I visited a B&B way up north in Vermont and it was only when I went out for a walk that I noticed the huge expanse of what appeared to be a turf ‘lawn’ wasn’t actually lawn at all… it was thyme! It was green and lush and it smelled heavenly.
  2. Burgundy Glow Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) — Else where in my garden a patch of ajuga has infiltrated the grass and along with the dandelions it creates a thick lovely cover that is beautiful with grass-height purple flowers when un-mowed.  The bees love it, and it is equally nice when mowed – to my mind is every bit as lovely as grass.   Burgundy glow has a lovely variegation in the leaves and I think it will be beautiful with the Thyme and Dead Nettle.
  3. Ghost Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum) – I have some glorious clumps of taller Lamium that are thriving in an even more inhospitable area of my garden.  They are real performers and great addition to a collection of spring bloomers.  This is a bit of an experiment (I admit) but I read that Lamium responds well to mowing — and I am thinking that I can enjoy its blooms early and then mow and enjoy it is silvery green leaves for the rest of the season.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m curious if anyone else has opted to replace turf with a different ground cover.  What did you use and how did it work for you? I’d love a more few ideas! 


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Proven Winners. I am not an employee of Proven Winners and all opinions are my own.

Images courtesy of Proven Winners.


Spread the love

REgister now!

A Free Master Class



Do you Need a
Garden Makeover?

Join my Free Webinar Today!

- Learn my 7-step system to design and build a stunning garden anywhere in the world.

- The 5 mistakes EVERYONE makes when creating a garden. (save yourself time, money, and headaches and get much better results!)

- How to work directly with me (but at a DIY price!) to design and create YOUR own gorgeous garden. 


  1. Rachelle says:

    Under a shady pine tree I went with hostas and a pagoda dogwood.

  2. Marcio says:

    Olá, parabéns pelo Blog!
    Sou da empresa Gramas Paraiso, conte conosco para informações sobre mudas de grama e serviços em geral:

    Um grande abraço!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

join the FrEE 10-day garden Design challenge

Your Garden will look waaayyy better in less than 2 weeks - Promise!

in the weeds?

Sign me up