No need to tiptoe around these groundcovers

Barren strawberry

"Don't step on the garden fairies," my grandmother used to admonish. It was her way of making me walk carefully around the plants in her beautiful vegetable gardens. 

It took me a long time to get over the fear of harming garden fairies.

While I still don’t walk on plants with tall or delicate stalks, I now count some low-growing perennial plants among the walkables. Moss, for instance, is tougher than it looks, as are ground-hugging sedum and pachysandra. Native barren strawberry is another ground cover for shade (though it is not really a strawberry). I have found low-growing mother-of-thyme and “pinks” resilient. Sweet woodruff looks none the worse for my visits. Low-growing varieties of bellflower, chamomile, and yarrow are not only walkable but mowable as well.

Walkable groundcovers are important because they can replace lawn areas and help reduce mowing.

Researchers at the Native Plant Trust in Framingham, MA, created groundcover experiments with native plants. One result of their work is that they've found two types of native strawberries that handle foot traffic very well. Look for native groundcovers at their Garden Plant Finder.

Want to know more about walkable flowering perennials? See the links below. If you are having trouble with the link, download the PDFs at the bottom of the page. 

"No Need to Tiptoe Through These Flowering Perennials"

List of flowering perennials (and a few sedges, too)