If you have a garden, sooner or later you’re going to be looking to cover it. Whether you want to create a practical outdoor space or need to keep your yard low maintenance, there’s an ever-growing number of ground cover options.

Related: How to choose a tree for a small garden

From lawns to ground-cover plants to paving and tar, we’re weighing out the pros and cons of the most popular options so your yard doesn’t have to.

A garden to play in

Yard space is a luxury for most people these days and if you have pets and children you probably want to make the most of your yard. Lawns are the traditional ground cover for playgrounds and also contribute to your gardens aesthetic, but there are other options…

Related: Save water and keep your lawn (you can do both)

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Practical and low maintenance

Lawns need mowing, watering, fertilising and troubleshooting. They can be high maintenance and although the idea is not typically suburban, clover is great ground cover and can give your yard a rustic, farmhouse look. Clover is also a bee-friendly option, which is something to consider if you are allergic to bees.

If clover doesn’t appeal, a combination of cobblestones with ground covering plants like babies breath or wonder lawn growing between the stones is a beautiful vintage option that is surprisingly low maintenance.

Cheap and effective

If you aren’t going to use your outside area much and just need it covered for practical reasons, tar, paving or thick cement slabs are a durable and cheap alternative.

For driveways, tar is the more durable of the two options and is both less likely to be damaged and is also easier to fix and maintain.

You can always cover cement slabs with artificial lawn at a later stage, or pretty up the area with greenery cascading from planters.

Related: Every garden needs a bee box

Temporary ground cover

When you’re renting a home it just doesn’t make sense to invest in certain home improvements. That said, you should still be able to enjoy your home especially if you plan on being there for a while.

Installing instant lawn in a small area won’t cost a fortune, but if you have a bigger area to cover, think carefully about the cost involved and how difficult it will be to maintain over time.

It is advisable to discuss any changes you want to make to the property with the property owner before you do them. Who knows, maybe they’ll even pay for some!

Sensible, fashionable and durable

Fashionable paving done in a variety of different styles has definitely taken over from outdoor tiles. Over a long period of time, paving is more durable and on a day to day basis it is easier to clean and maintain.

Paving can be expensive to install in the beginning. However weighed against the cost of maintaining a garden, paving may be a more budget-friendly option over time, and it’s definitely more water-wise. If the area gets a lot of foot traffic from pets or humans, paving will look good for a long time, unlike a lawn.