What to do instead of sod grass?

Ground cover shifts with the seasons, so it is important to be mindful of groundcover management.

Image is filled with low-growing herbacsous plants, and includes a log and dead leaves on the ground.

The primary form of soil covering is the growing plants themselves:

  • Nature chooses the location for many of our plants, so they are not in rows or in measured spacing, increasing the effectiveness of the coverage. 
  • When trees in season are holding their leaves, ground cover is most complete. This makes maximum use of sunlight energy, since most sunlight is used in wide-leaf photosynthesis, rather than falling on a brown surface.
  • Leaves slow the velocity of falling raindrops, which increases rainwater infiltration into the soil.
  • Plant roots also provide groundcover, holding soil in place and preventing erosion into local streams.

A second, and crucial, ground cover is plant litter, since it is best to never have bare soil:

  • This is more controversial, as it can look messy until a person learns to appreciate and enjoy the benefits, as well as the look, but it is key to embracing sustainability.
  • The plant litter covering includes fallen leaves, seed pods, nuts, fallen tree trunks and branches, sticks, plant stems, wood chips, and straw.  
  • Litter on the ground maintains a moist soil environment.
  • The bottom layer of the debris is decaying and feeding soil organisms, which increases soil health.

Local rocks are a valuable supplementary form of ground cover:

  • Although they do not play a direct role in building healthy soil, local rocks of different sizes add valuable ground cover.
  • They are also key to augmenting beneficial insect habitat.

Examples of Groundcover at Wildergarden