Please recommend an alternative to grass for my back yard.
April 16, 2016 9:58 PM   Subscribe

Low maintenance ground cover needed.

The small backyard of my townhouse is paved with grass pavers: Example image.

Over the years, the grass has gradually been replaced by an assortment of weeds, which I keep "mowed" with an edge trimmer periodically. I'm looking to replace these weeds with a plant that is aesthetically pleasing and low maintenance.

1. How do I kill off the weeds?
2. What plant can I put into the pavers that is pleasing, resistant to footsteps, does not require pesticides, and resistant to being taken over by weeds, preferably without requiring herbicides?

I should mention that my house is in Shanghai, where the temperature ranges from around freezing to hot as hell (mostly hot), and where it rains pretty much every day of the year.
posted by BeaverTerror to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
When it isn't raining do you get a lot of direct sun? Shade? Something in between?
How large an area?

If it's shady enough how about moss? Scroll down to the slurry instructions which seem easiest.
posted by Gotanda at 11:43 PM on April 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've heard thyme is pretty good for that, but I haven't tried it myself.

Otherwise the best bet is usually to find a native plant of some variety as it's already adapted for your climate. I bet a garden centre could help you select a good native grass.
posted by lollusc at 12:46 AM on April 17, 2016

Dwarf Mondo grass?
posted by cecic at 1:56 AM on April 17, 2016

posted by Night_owl at 5:51 AM on April 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I hate lawns, so I feel ya. This site has some alternatives, and I'm in the process if replacing my lawn with clover. I prefer it over grass any day of the week.
posted by patheral at 10:59 AM on April 17, 2016

Not just any thyme, but wooly thyme works really well for this. It can be invasive though.
posted by dbmcd at 11:51 AM on April 17, 2016

I bet your agricultural extension / master gardeners would love to answer this.

Yarrow likes sun, grows well in a variety of climates, and the foliage tolerates walking. Also good for pollinators.
posted by momus_window at 4:27 PM on April 17, 2016

Have you considered artificial grass? For example, the second pic in this page shows something similar to what you might need. It looks perfectly real, needs no maintenance if it's installed correctly, can be swept, vacumed or sprayed with water if it gets a little messy. I have a small patio in my house and have artificial grass on most of it except a small section close to the wall for real flowers. I get lots of compliments on my pretty patio and I never have to worry about mowing or watering, dry spots, mosquitoes, etc.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:34 PM on April 17, 2016

You can take care of the weeds by solarizing the soil. I have actually heard of doing this with black plastic, but most of the articles I found were about using clear. You can also pour boiling water on plants to kill them. I don't think this would be effective for grass, but it works on non-rhizomes with wide leaves pretty well.
posted by annsunny at 4:50 PM on April 17, 2016

Check this out:
posted by bq at 6:25 PM on April 17, 2016

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