Grass is not the only plant that tolerates foot traffic. Many small, creeping perennials thrive underfoot in walkways, patios and footpaths. Mosses and herbs are attractive and fragrant additions to backyards and patio landscapes. Although they are miniature in size, they can quickly cover large areas and stand up to conditions that larger plants can't survive. Plant them between patio stones, along walkways and in rock gardens for a natural, soft look.
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Irish and Scotch Moss
Irish and Scotch moss, sagina subulata, are flowering ground covers that resemble moss but aren't true mosses. Irish moss is dark green while Scotch moss is bright chartreuse green. They grow in rocky soil in a variety of light conditions from full sun to light shade. They spread easily and tolerate foot traffic, making them ideal for planting between stones on paths and walkways.
Ajuga, dwarf bugleweed, is a dense, spreading ground cover with striking dark foliage in a variety of colours, including almost black, chocolate brown and burgundy, and purple flowers. It grows well in dark shade or full sun and prefers moist, well-drained soil. Ajuga has a central stalk that grows upright and needs occasional clipping or mowing.
Blue Star Creeper
Blue star creeper, isotoma fluviatillis, is a creeping perennial with small, delicate, light-blue flowers. It is a rugged plant that grows in shade or sun and flowers continuously. Blue star creeper grows best in partial shade or filtered light and moist growing conditions and doesn't tolerate high heat or drought. It spreads quickly in optimal conditions and can become invasive.
Woolly thyme, thymus praecox, is a creeping perennial herb with grey-green round leaves. It is a slow-growing plant that needs well-drained alkaline soil and a sunny location. It is very fragrant and, when stepped on, releases its pleasant fragrance into the air. It has tubular pink, lavender or white flowers that attract bees. It is a culinary herb that can be used fresh or dried.
Golden Creeping Jenny
Golden creeping Jenny, lysimachia nummularia 'aurea', also called moneywort, is a low, creeping perennial with round yellow leaves. It is very hardy and adaptable to different light and soil conditions. It grows quickly and blooms with yellow flowers all summer long. It grows equally well in pathways and containers.
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- "Native Ferns, Moss, and Grasses: From Emerald Carpet to Amber Wave, Serene and Sensuous Plants for the Garden"; William Cullina; 2008
- "Landscaping from the Ground Up"; Sara Jane Von Trapp; 1997
- "Black & Decker: The Complete Guide to Patios & Walkways : Money-Saving Do-It-Yourself Projects for Improving Outdoor Living Space"; Editors of CPI; 2010
- "Paths and Walkways (For Your Garden)"; Daria Price Bowman; 1997