flower beds next to inground pool

5 Best Ground Cover Alternatives to Replace Grass in My Florida Landscape

If you love a grassy green lawn, raise your hand.

Whoa, that’s almost everybody in Sarasota. 

While homeowners in other parts of the country are saying bye to traditional grass lawns and happily planting low-maintenance ground covers, most of us are hanging tight to our beloved St. Augustine turf. 

But there are times when grass just won’t thrive, and there are a few great ground covers ready for the rescue. 

Florida grass alternatives need less maintenance than grass and they’re good for the environment, too. 

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When you choose groundcover to replace grass, you use less water and fertilizer, reduce your carbon footprint, and attract birds, bees, and butterflies. 

Check out five great Florida grass alternatives you’ll love: 

1. Asiatic Jasmine ‘Minima’ 

Asiatic Jasmine

This sturdy, easy-care plant is often used as a ground cover to replace grass — it’s drought tolerant and needs just a yearly mowing to keep it tidy. 

Jasmine sounds flowery, but this variety doesn’t flower. But if you choose a variegated variety, you won’t miss the blooms. 

While a solid green variety is popular, you can opt for variegated yellow and green leaves or a striking variety with a smattering of pretty pink. 

One note: If you opt for a variegated ‘Minima’ ground cover to replace grass, you’ll need to plant twice as much, as it grows slower than the solid green type and you’ll want to plant it thicker so weeds don’t creep in. 
It will ultimately form dense mats of foliage that help crowd out weeds.

Compared to grass, Asiatic jasmine is more drought-tolerant, thrives in the shade or sun and is generally pest- and disease-resistant. 

2. Lantana


It’s hard to beat lantana, with its long list of great features: it’s heat, salt, and drought tolerant. It‘s low maintenance, comes in a rainbow of colors, and attracts pollinators like butterflies and bees.
And if you choose from the Bandana Lantana series, you can entertain yourself for at least a few minutes by saying “Bandana Lantana” on repeat. Try it. It’s fun. 

Bandana lantanas have a compact mounding habit that makes them great as a ground cover to replace grass. 

We love the bright, tropical look of the gold lantana but there’s a rainbow of colors available, from the spectacular rose, with flowers that change as they mature from yellow to orange, peach and pink, to ‘Lemon Zest,’ which will have you craving a frosty glass of lemonade. 

Lantana 'Anne Marie' is a stunner, too, with masses of pink, purple, and yellow flowers. Like the Bandana series, ‘Ann Marie’ has a low, mounding habit that’s great as a Florida grass alternative.

Lantana loves full sun. And while it’s drought-tolerant, you’ll get more of those stunning flowers if you water it regularly.

Bonus: it loves well-drained soil, so it’s perfect for Sarasota’s sandy loam. 

3. Liriope ‘Super Blue’

Liriope super blue

Great for mass planting, this liriope is a small, clumping ground cover with delicate violet flowers that bloom in cone-shaped bunches at the end of tall green stems.

Known for spreading, it’s heat tolerant, drought tolerant and salt spray tolerant, making it a great ground cover to replace grass for coastal areas. 

Once established, it needs little maintenance. It even thrives in tricky areas like beneath trees and on banks and slopes. 

4. Blue Daze 

Blue Daze

This might be the prettiest Florida grass alternative, with abundant brilliant blue flowers that open in the morning and close up in the evening.

This tropical beauty loves the heat and the sun. 

Use it for a prettier, low-maintenance alternative to a strip of lawn, or it makes a stunning mass planting ground cover to replace grass.  

Sandy soil? Salt spray? No problem.

5. Beach Sunflowers 

beach sunflowers

Is there a more cheerful phrase than “beach sunflowers?” OK, maybe “free pizza.” 

But it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re thinking about beach sunflowers. 

These bright blooms are tougher than they look. Salt spray? No biggie. They have “beach” in their name for a reason. 

Native to Florida, they love our sandy soil and they’re fine with dry conditions.

These beachy beauties flower on and off year round, and will spread nicely, making them a nice alternative to grass in Florida. 

If you’re lucky enough to own a beachfront property, why would you want to waste time mowing a lawn? 

Instead, fill the yard with beach sunflowers. Watch the butterflies they attract. Cut some and tuck them in a pretty vase on the kitchen table. 

Unlike traditional sunflowers that tower overhead, beach sunflowers stay at a tidy 18 inches tall. They’ll reseed and spread, making a nice low maintenance Florida grass alternative. 

Pondering Florida Grass Alternatives? Talk to Us 

Nobody’s making you replace your precious Sarasota lawn. But with ground covers this great, you might want to replace at least a bit of it. 

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Let’s get started. We’ll help you figure it all out. 

Give us a call or fill out our form today! Our team of Sarasota designers can’t wait to design the perfect outdoor haven for your backyard or vacation rental property.

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Sources: Lantana, Liriope, Blue Daze, Beach Sunflowers