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List of the 10 best groundcover plants for Australia

In Australia today, with smaller and smaller housing block sizes and subdivisions, maintaining a lawn can be impractical and time-consuming. Chris finds that during his garden design consultations, people still want to have nice, open, flat, green spaces, but as gardens get smaller and smaller it’s sometimes just not worth firing up a lawnmower to maintain a lawn anymore. Artificial lawn is expensive, not very exciting and doesn’t look great, and small lawns are not worth the maintenance. That’s where groundcover plants, particularly “steppables,” come in.

Steppables are what we call groundcover plants that have the ability to withstand some foot traffic. You can use them to turn an area into a beautiful flat green space that’s a little bit special and exciting, and low maintenance.

In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 groundcover plants for Australia, their steppability ratings, how many you should plant per square metre, and how they can transform small areas into stunning and hassle-free green spaces.

10 best ground cover plants to replace your lawn

Here’s the list of our top groundcovers readily available in Australia. Full details and pictures below.

  1. Myoporum ‘Yareena™’
  2. White Creeping Thyme
  3. Pratia White Star Creeper
  4. Dichondra Repens
  5. Dymondia Silver Carpet
  6. Silver Dichondra
  7. Zoysia No Mow Grass
  8. Baby’s Tears
  9. Native Violet
  10. Dwarf Mondo Grass
  11. Important tip: Establishing your groundcover

Using Groundcover Plants in Garden Designs in Australia

Nathan’s small, modern Japanese front garden design shows an example of low growing groundcover plants being used around pavers to create a green walkway.

Groundcover plants are just one part of creating a great new garden bed, outdoor space or an entire front or back yard. If you’re in Melbourne or regional Victoria, you can get specific, expert advice on which groundcover is right for you and will work in your actual garden, as well as harmonising with your other plant choices, with our free Garden Design Service.

This is a one-on-one consultation in our Campbellfield nursery (or by a video chat) with Chris to discuss your requirements, budget, plant and style preferences, go over photos and plans of the site, and work out the perfect design based on your unique project and the growing conditions in your area. You’ll come up with the exact list of plants you need, and a basic action plan of what you need to do to make it all happen. Click here to find out more or make a booking.

Groundcover Steppability Ratings:

Now, let’s talk about steppability! No groundcover plant can truly be walked all over like a lawn, but some tolerate being trod on better than others. We’ve classified these groundcover plants into three categories: High, Medium, and Light steppability. Think of it as a rating for how well they can handle foot traffic.

High-rated groundcovers are like the cool kids who can handle a bit of careful walking here and there, but constant traffic might require some stepping stones to protect them.

Medium-rated groundcovers prefer to be admired from a distance, and while they can tolerate the occasional slip of the foot around pavers or stepping stones, it’s best to avoid walking on them as much as possible.

Light-rated groundcovers are more delicate and prefer to be left alone. These beauties are perfect for creating serene spaces where stepping stones or pathways guide you through their lush foliage.

So, whether you want a groundcover you can strut on (with care) or you’re fine with one that prefers to be admired, we’ve got you covered with our handy steppability ratings. Let’s crack on with the list.


1. Myoporum ‘Yareena™’ (Medium Steppability)

Myoporum Yareena: good low growing and hardy native Australian goundcover

Chris’ current favourite and top of this best groundcovers list, Yareena Myoporum is a standout choice. It’s an Aussie native that thrives in even the poorest soil, tolerates full sun, drought, and frost, making it incredibly versatile. It has a richer green colour and lays flatter than other Myoporum varieties, to create a beautiful finish.

In a hurry: Plant 4 per square metre
Prepared to wait: Plant 2 per square metre

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia


2. White Creeping Thyme (Medium Steppability)

Thymus White Creeping Thyme used as a carpeting groundcover

White Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum alba) is an excellent choice for adding a touch of elegance to your space. While it requires fertile soil, moisture, and occasional fertilization, its flat growth and 4-5 months of flowering (from mid-Spring to mid-Autumn) make it worth the effort. Plant it generously per square meter to achieve an instant effect. This variety can handle moderate foot traffic and is ideal for areas around stepping stones and pavers.

In a hurry: Plant 9 per square metre
Prepared to wait: Plant 5 per square metre

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia


3. Pratia White Star Creeper (Medium Steppability)

Pratia White Star Creeper groundcover around pavers and closeup

Pratia White Star Creeper (it also comes in Blue) is a versatile groundcover that will also grow in fairly shady areas. With its long flowering period of about 9 months (from September to May), it adds a burst of beauty to the garden. While it requires fairly good soil, water, and fertilization, it can tolerate light foot traffic, making it suitable for pathways and areas surrounding stepping stones.

In a hurry: Plant 9 per square metre
Prepared to wait: Plant 5 per square metre

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia


4. Dichondra Repens (Light Steppability)

After our recent viral video made us puzzlingly popular over in the ‘States, we couldn’t forget Dichondra repens! Also uninspiringly known as kidneyweed, Green Dichondra is an attractive Australian native groundcover option, particularly for deep shade. With ample water, it can grow in full sun as well.

Dichondra repens is one of the best Australian groundcovers

Dichondra’s kidney-shaped leaves provide a unique look, and it establishes quickly with rapid growth during warm weather, given plenty of water and a bit of fertiliser while it’s getting established. However, it’s only suitable for very light foot traffic, so it’s best to use stepping stones if you need to navigate through the area.

In a hurry: Plant 9 per square metre
Prepared to wait: Plant 5 per square metre

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia


5. Dymondia Silver Carpet (High Steppability)

Silver Carpet is from South African but works well as a groundcover in Australia

If durability is your priority, Silver Carpet (Dymondia margaretae) is an excellent choice. It thrives in harsh conditions, including heat, dryness, frost, and poor soils. Its flat and silver-gray appearance creates a striking contrast, especially when paired with dark pavers. Ideal for large areas, this groundcover effectively blocks out weeds once established and can withstand high foot traffic.

Chris has a patch of Silver Carpet himself in his garden about 8m by 3m, and says it’s very good at blocking out the weeds once established and good for covering a large area. He walks on it and even drove a tractor over it, and found it impressively steppable.

In a hurry: Plant 9 per square metre
Prepared to wait: Plant 5 per square metre

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia


6. Silver Dichondra (Light Steppability)

Australian native groundcover and trailing plant, Dichondra Silver Falls

Silver Dichondra (Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’) offers a hardy and flat silver leaved groundcover option, perfect for contrasting with Black Mondo Grass or bright greens. It will also trail nicely over retaining walls, and has the same interesting kidney shaped leaves as it’s cousin, Green Dichondra. Another Aussie native groundcover, with adequate water and fertilization, it establishes quickly and becomes drought-tolerant. It’s best suited for areas with very light foot traffic, and if you need to walk through the space, stepping stones should be incorporated.

In a hurry: Plant 9 per square metre
Prepared to wait: Plant 5 per square metre

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia


7. Zoysia No Mow Grass (High Steppability)

Zoysia No Mow Grass is a groundcover that does well in the Australian climate

No Mow Grass (Zoysia tenuifolia) means what it says: is the closest to a lawn in terms of durability, capable of handling the most foot traffic, and doesn’t need to be mowed. With proper watering and fertilization, it establishes quickly and thrives in the Melbourne climate. This groundcover has a gently mounded, undulating nature, adding visual interest to your landscape. It remains persistent and is frost-hardy, making it an ideal choice for low-maintenance areas.

In a hurry: Plant 9 per square metre
Prepared to wait: Plant 5 per square metre

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia


8. Soleirolia Baby’s Tears (Medium Steppability)

Soleirolia Baby's Tears is a good shade loving groundcover for Australia

Baby’s Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii) thrives in deep shade and add a touch of lushness to your space. They prefer moist areas with minimal sunlight and spread rapidly. Available in green or gold, the gold variety can be used to introduce colour and contrast to shady spots or the abundant green of ferneries. While they can handle light foot traffic once established, it’s best to avoid excessive walking on this groundcover.

In a hurry: Plant 9 per square metre
Prepared to wait: Plant 5 per square metre

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia


9. Native Violet (Low Steppability)

Excellent Australian native groundcover Native Violet

Native Violet (Viola hederacea) is an Australian native groundcover as it’s name suggests. It offers a lush and leafy option, with the bonus of delicate flowers gracing its foliage all year-round. It thrives in shaded areas and can tolerate boggy conditions or poor drainage. Chris recently sold 500 or so of these to a customer, who then used them around sandstone pavers. The contrast between its leafy foliage and the rough-textured pavers created an awesome combination. However, due to its slightly taller growth, it is suitable for minimal foot traffic. This means when using Native Violets around pavers, you want the pavers to be raised up slightly above the tops of the plants, like islands in a lush green sea.

In a hurry: Plant 9 per square metre
Prepared to wait: Plant 5 per square metre

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia


10. Dwarf Mondo Grass (High Steppability)

Mondo Grass as a groundcover and lawn alternative

Dwarf Mondo (Ophiopogan japonicas ‘Nana’) is a popular choice of groundcover plants, resembling grass with a rich, deep green colour. It can withstand a considerable amount of foot traffic and is highly durable. This groundcover is ideal for Asian or Zen-style gardens, as well as areas around pavers. It prefers morning sun or dappled shade, thriving in deep shade and tolerating wet, boggy conditions. However, it does struggle in direct hot sun, especially at the sunny end of a path.

In a hurry: Plant 16 per square metre
Prepared to wait: Plant 8 per square metre

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia


Important Tip: Raising your groundcover right

One of the main reasons people use groundcovers is to suppress weeds, and weeds can also try to out-compete your groundcover before it’s even gotten started. If not handled properly, this can turn into a tangled mess, with the weeds either winning or becoming permanently meshed into the groundcover and impossible to remove.

There are two key steps to make sure your groundcover succeeds and blocks the weeds:

  1. Before planting, it is essential to thoroughly remove all weeds from your chosen spot. Weeds can compete with the groundcovers for resources like water and light, and slow or prevent their growth and establishment. By providing a clear, weed-free environment, you lay the foundation for a successful groundcover patch that will flourish and require minimal maintenance in the long run.
  2. This anti-weed activism needs to continue until your groundcover plants are ready to handle things on their own. Regular weeding and maintenance are crucial during the entire time the plants are getting themselves established, until they cover the space fully with no gaps. This ensures that the groundcovers have the best opportunity to thrive and suppress future weed growth.

If you want to do yourself a favour and cut the weed whacking work down, plant more groundcover plants per square meter (the “In a hurry” amounts listed above). That way your groundcover establishes itself faster into a seamless green carpet. We offer bulk discounts on many groundcover plants to make it easier to get the quantity you need.

Back to list: Top 10 Groundcover Plants for Australia

In summary With the rise of smaller spaces and the need in Australia for low-maintenance alternatives to lawns, foot traffic friendly groundcover plants, or “steppables,” have become invaluable. By selecting the right groundcover for your needs, you can transform a small area into a beautiful green space that requires minimal upkeep.

Whether you choose Yareena Myoporum, Dymondia Silver Carpet, or any other groundcover from our top 10 list, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a stunning, durable, and low-maintenance landscape. Remember to eliminate weeds before planting and provide adequate care during the establishment phase to ensure the success of your groundcover project.

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