Lawn Alternatives

What is a "Lawn Alternative"?

A lawn alternative is an alternative option to the traditional monoculture lawn, tailored to the local enviroment & climate. The goal of a lawn alternative is to provide a compromise between the natural state of your local neighbourhood/space and your desires for the space previously used as a lawn. Ideally, the perfect lawn would not resemble a lawn but a chunk of the local ecosystem that surrounds your home- but that isn't always possible or wanted.

How can I replace my lawn?

The first step to replacing a lawn is to do some research into what your lawn used to be before human development. Once you know that, you should then look into which species are native to your area, and whether you're able to buy them (locally or otherwise, though always try to buy local first!). Visiting a local gardening center or club for advice is also recomended! Gardening & landscaping is tough busniess, so don't feel discouraged if your native lawn doesn't turn out the way you want the first time. Remember, succession occurs over years and years, so a "natural" lawn takes time to develop and grow.

This project, while covering the general historical and ecological impacts of the monoculture lawn, will only offer species recomendations for the eastern Ontario and Kingston/Katarokwi regions.

Species to Avoid

Groundcover Wildflowers & Grasses
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
  • Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria)
  • Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majalis)
  • Yellow Archangle (Lamium galeobdolon)
  • Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)
  • Carpet Bugle (Ajuga reptans)
  • Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva)

  • Miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis and M. sacchariflorus)
Shrubs Trees
  • Winged Euonymus (E. alatus)
  • Russian Olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)
  • Autumn Olive (E. umbellata )
  • Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
  • Tartarian, Amur, Morrow, Bells, European Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica, L. maackii, L. morrowii, L x bella, L. xylosteum)
  • Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)
  • Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)
  • Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
  • Amur Maple (A. ginnala)
Vines Aquatic Species
  • Japanese Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera japonica)
  • Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
  • Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus)
  • Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus)
  • Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)
  • Water Soldier (Stratiotes aloides)
  • European Frog-Bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)
  • Yellow Flowering Heart (Nymphoides peltata)
  • Fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana)
  • Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata)

Species to Use

Groundcover Wildflowers & Grasses
  • Wild Geranium (Gernaium maculatum)
  • Starry Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum)
  • Large-leaved Aster (Eurybia macrophylla)
  • Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)
  • Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia)
  • Virgina Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)
  • Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)
  • Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
  • Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum )
  • Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
  • Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganense)
  • Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinacea pallida)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

  • Big & Little Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii and Schizachyrium scoparium)
  • Bottlebrush Grass (Elymus hystrix)
  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
  • Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)
  • Pennsylvania & Ivory Sedge (Carex pensylvanica and C. eburnea)
Shrubs Trees
  • Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
  • Fragment Sumac (Rhus aromatica)
  • Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
  • Silverberry (Baeagnus commutata)
  • Red-oiser Dogwood (Cornus sericea)
  • Native Viburnums (Viburnum lentago, V. lantanoides and others )
  • Native Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera)
  • Wild Black Currant (Ribes americanum)
  • Wild Roses (Rosa carolina, R. virginiana)
  • Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
  • Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)
  • Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
  • Bayberry (Morella (syn. Mycria) pensylvanica)
  • Common Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
  • Sugar, Silver, Freeman Maples (A. saccharum, A.saccharinum and A. x freemanii)
  • Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
  • Ruby Lace Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis)
  • Downy, Smooth, Canada Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea, A. laevis, and A. canadensis)
Vines Aquatic Species
  • Virgina Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
  • Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris)
  • Goldflame Honeysuckle (Lonicera x heckrotti)
  • Jackman Clematis (Clematis x jackmanii )
  • Dutchman's Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla)
  • Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana)
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
  • Northern Blueflag Iris (Iris versicolor)
  • Sweetflag Grass (Acorus calamus)
  • Blye Vervain (Verbena hastata)
  • White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
  • Joe-pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
  • Swamp Rose-mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)
  • Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
  • Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
  • Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
  • Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)
  • Common Mare's Tail (Hippuris vulgaris)
  • Fragrant Water Lily (Nymphaea ordorata)
  • Tape Grass (Vallisneria americana)
  • Coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum)



  • Ontario Invasive Plant Council. (2020, April). Grow Me Instead: Beautiful Non-Invasive Plants for your Garden (Southern Version). Retrieved February 13, 2023, from