I have shady and sloping areas where it is difficult to maintain a lawn. I have been told that ground covers could be a better choice. What kinds would you recommend?
Ground covers are a good lawn alternative. They do not require weekly mowing, although some benefit from occasional trimming. Ground covers are especially good in shady areas where grass does not receive enough light to grow thickly. Ground covers can be planted on sloping areas, poorly drained areas, and areas that are hard to reach with a lawn mower.
Ground covers will require some effort until they become established to avoid weed infestation. Ground cover plants are more expensive when compared to the cost of establishing a new lawn. However, the lower long-term maintenance costs greatly outweigh the initial cost of establishment.
Our native kinnikinnick is the best adapted ground cover. It is very drought tolerant once established and grows 3 to 4 inches in full sun to fairly heavy shade.
For hot, dry areas in full sun, snow-in-summer (cerastium tomentosum) is a good choice. Once established, it is tough as nails and resistant to weed invasion. It has silvery gray foliage reaching as high as 4 to 5 inches. Its prolific white flowers make it look like a snow bank in June. Snow-in-summer does not grow well in wet areas.