The Q&A Archives: Durable Ground Covers

Question: I have a flagstone walkway and am wanting to plant a ground cover between the stones. I have planted Thyme (lemon and creeping) and almost all have died. I also have a big dog. I don't know if the full sun, the heat off the flagstone, or the urine from the dog is cooking the plants. I am looking for options and wondered if planting Clover would be a good one. There is no lawn, so spreading would not be a problem, and all my beds are raised 18-36 inches.

Answer: Groundcovers that will survive between walkways are difficult to find in the West. There isn't alot that can take our sun and aridity. Most of those types of plants prefer a more moist and "woodland" environment. I know a nursery wholesaler who is trying to develop/find a surefire plant for this use.

Sagina subulata, commonly called Irish Moss, or Scotch Moss, is a possibility. It takes full sun and regular water, but although it's called moss, it doesn't require the woodsy environment associated with a moss. It needs good drainage and can take some foot traffic.

Arenaria or sandwort can be 2-4 inches high, spreads invasively if given enough water. It prefers ample water.

Two species of Trifolium are typically used in place of lawn. T. fragiferum (strawberry clover) and T. repens (white clover). They full sun or partial shade and don't need as much water as the other two once established. I don't have experience with them but my reference shows they tolerate heat, aridity and moderate salinity, all conditions in the West. I hope this info helps!

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