School Grounds TRAnSfoRmAtiOn  
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There are usually some areas of lawn around the front and sides of school buildings that are little used. Replacing grass with perennial ground covers is ecologically and economically beneficial. Ground covers provide habitat and shade the soil which reduces the need for irrigation. They also eliminate or reduce many of the costs associated with grass maintenance such as mowing, raking, aerating, re-seeding, applying pesticides and herbicides, fertilizing and watering as well as the tipping fees for land-filling grass clippings. Eliminating pesticides and herbicides from grounds maintenance is beneficial because they are known to harm the organisms that help keep soil healthy.

A garden of various ground covers could be planted to show the attractive, low-maintenance alternatives to grass. Many ground covers will stay green while the surrounding lawn turns brown in hot, dry weather.

Some useful ground covers are:





Thymus montanus or
T. serphyllum

2-10 cm

Thyme is a low-growing ground cover for full sun and dry sandy soil. It is especially useful between paving stones. The leaves are scented and the flowers appear in late Spring.


Ajuga reptans

10 cm

Ajuga is a fast-spreading ground cover that will thrive in sun to light shade and moist soil. Spikes of deep blue flowers appear in late Spring over shiny rosettes of dark purplish-green leaves. Multi-coloured cultivars are available. 'Braunherz' is particularly resistant to insect attacks.

Sweet Woodruff

Galium odoratum

45 cm

Sweet woodruff likes moist, shady spots and is useful for places where grass will not grow. It has whorled green foliage. Tiny white flowers appear in the Spring.

Lily of the Valley

Covallaria majalis

20 cm

Lily of the Valley  spreads fairly quickly. Its thickly-growing upright leaves suppress almost all other plants when grown in moist soil and medium to deep shade. The highly fragrant flowers appear in the Spring.


Vinca minor

15 cm

Periwinkle prefers medium to deep shade. It has shiny evergreen leaves, blue flowers in the Spring and, once established, withstands dry conditions. Young plants must be watered until they become established. Some weeding may be required.


Aegopodium podagraria

15 cm

Goutweed spreads rapidly by underground roots and grows in full sun to medium shade. It has cream-coloured leaves. Control growth by mowing around the edge of the path two or three times a year.

Japanese Spurge

Pachysandra terminalis

15 cm

Japanese Spurge grows best in light to dark shade and well-drained soil. Some have variegated leaves. Control spread by mowing around the edge of the planting as required.

Creeping Phlox

Phlox stolonifera

15 cm

Creeping Phlox forms dense mats of spreading stems and has many small blue, pink or white flowers in the Spring. It needs full sun, well-drained soil, and some weeding. The centre of large plants tends to die off.

Creeping Juniper

Juniperus horizontalis

20-60 cm

Creeping Juniper grows slowly, but it is excellent for covering slopes of well-drained rocky soil. It needs full sun, dry soil and good air circulation.

Three-toothed Cinquefoil

Potentilla tridentata

25 cm

Three-toothed cinquefoil is a good creeper for rocky sites and dry sunny slopes. It has small white flowers in early Summer with leaves turning reddish in Fall.

Foam Flower

Tiarella cordifolia

25 cm

Foam Flower grows in medium to heavy shade and rich moist soil. Spikes of white flowers appear in the Spring.

Crown Vetch

Coronilla varia

30 cm

Crown vetch will thrive in sunny places that are too dry for grass. Plants form an intertwined mass which flowers all Summer.

Blue Fescue

Coronilla varia

40 cm

Blue Fescue has very fine-textured, blue-green, dense foliage. It can be used as a ground cover to replace lawn in little-used areas.

Drooping Sedge

Carex pendula

60-120 cm

Drooping Sedge is a tall, arching plant. It needs plenty of space and is very handsome year-round. Great quantities of delicate drooping stems of green flowers are produced in the Spring and remain throughout the season. This sedge is perfect if you have a large shady area where moisture is assured.

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