10 Beautiful Bee-Free Groundcovers for a Safe, Low-Maintenance Yard

Why would we want to plant more plants that don’t attract bees? Aren’t bees in danger of going extinct? Well, many people, including my clients, are allergic to bee stings but still want to enjoy a beautiful landscape. We can plan their landscapes to include flowers that are less attractive to bees.

Finding any flowers that do not attract bees has been a challenge however. Before we get to the plants, we need to know what bees are attracted to, and why. I am including all bees in this list, as research is limited by species. However, bumblebees and even sweat bees can sting badly if they are angry. Most people are only allergic to honeybee or wasp stings.

Groundcovers are a great low-maintenance alternative to turf grass. But popular flowering groundcovers like clover, thyme, and creeping phlox attract bees with their blooms. For families with children or pets vulnerable to stings, it’s crucial to choose groundcovers that don’t lure bees. Here are some gorgeous options for bee-free yards:

1. Irish Moss

Also called Scotch moss, Irish moss forms a velvety carpet of fine emerald green foliage It spreads quickly between pavers and stepping stones to choke out weeds. Tiny white blooms appear in spring but are so small they don’t attract pollinators Irish moss thrives in part sun with ample moisture.

2. Snow-in-Summer

Despite its delicate appearance snow-in-summer is a resilient groundcover for full sun areas. It produces abundant clusters of tiny white blooms in spring atop gray-green foliage. The petite blooms are bee-free. This spreader looks particularly lovely cascading over walls or softening the edges of pathways.

3. Blue Star Creeper

For shady areas blue star creeper is an excellent non-flowering groundcover option. The dense mat of green leaves spreads rapidly to prevent erosion and weeds. Blue star creeper tolerates light foot traffic and occasional drought when established. It roots well between pavers and stepping stones.

4. Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff has a fresh, sweet aroma when crushed. The lacy green leaves spread to form a weed-suppressing carpet beneath trees and shrubs. Clusters of tiny white spring flowers are insignificant to pollinators. Sweet woodruff thrives in part to full shade and prefers moist, well-draining soil.

5. Lilyturf

Resembling grassy clumps of lily foliage, lilyturf makes a graceful groundcover. It spreads by underground rhizomes to form a lush, weed-free carpet. Varieties like ‘Big Blue’, ‘Silver Dragon’, and ‘Meehanii’ add visual interest with bold white or yellow leaf margins but do not bloom. Lilyturf grows well in sun or shade.

6. Deadnettle

The mint family member deadnettle enjoys shady gardens and moist soil. Varieties like ‘Bloody Cranesbill’ and ‘Redshank’ have colorful green and red foliage with no real flowers. Deadnettle spreads rapidly to fill in empty spaces with little care needed. Trim it back after winter to control spread and encourage dense growth.

7. Sweetflag

Sweetflag has long, slender green and gold variegated leaves that emit a sweet aroma when bruised. This moisture-loving grassy plant spreads steadily by rhizomes, forming a living carpet in wet soils or at pond edges. Sweetflag does not flower, making it ideal around water features frequented by kids and pets.

8. Mazus

Also called creeping mazus, this groundcover stays under 3 inches tall. It quickly spreads to form a dense mat of lush green foliage topped with insignificant purple flowers in spring. The foliage remains attractively colorful through winter. Creeping mazus thrives in sun or shade with adequate moisture.

9. Creeping Jenny

For bright color without blooms, opt for Creeping Jenny. The chartreuse or golden leaves spread rapidly to form a cheery carpet in shade gardens. It will cascade nicely over walls and containers. Creeping Jenny needs some consistent moisture to thrive and tolerate occasional foot traffic.

10. Dwarf Mondo Grass

One of the few grasses that does not flower, dwarf Mondo grass grows just 2-5 inches tall. It forms tidy grassy clumps that spread slowly by underground rhizomes. This shade loving groundcover adds texture and thrives between stepping stones or pavers. Keep dwarf Mondo grass moist if sited in full sun.

When establishing bee-free groundcovers, choose a gritty, well-draining soil. Space plants 8-12 inches apart depending on mature size. Leave a 2-3 inch gap between hardscaping for spread. Set pavers and stepping stones slightly above grade.

Water new plantings daily until roots develop, then water only when dry. Apply mulch after planting to conserve moisture and reduce weeds. Remove mulch once plants fill in to prevent fungal issues in humid climates. Avoid fertilizing, which can trigger some groundcovers to flower.

To fill large areas quickly, opt for faster spreading groundcovers like Irish moss, blue star creeper, sweet woodruff, or creeping Jenny. For manicured lawns, try slower growers like lilyturf, dwarf mondo grass, or sweetflag. Avoid aggressive spreaders like vinca minor or bugleweed near foundations or driveways.

With the right maintenance-free groundcovers for your site, you can cultivate a lush, bee-free landscape safe for children and pets. Non-flowering options like sweet woodruff, snow-in-summer, and lilyturf create stunning, worry-free yards to enjoy without the buzz of bees.

Can we use a bee’s sense of smell to deter them from the garden?

Now that we know what a bee can see, what can we say about their smell? Bees are very good at picking up even the smallest scents on the wind and can quickly decide if it’s something they want to pollinate. One thing to remember, is that bees do not pollinate on purpose or because we want them to. They pollinate on accident, trying to get nectar or pollen to take back to their brood.

ground cover that doesn t attract bees

Because bees have such a strong sense of smell, some plants may keep them away with their smell. Adding plants with strong scents to the garden might be a good idea, especially in areas that get a lot of use, like patios or pools. What are some of the aromatic plants that do not attract bees, but deter them?.

What colors do bees see and how do we know?

ground cover that doesn t attract bees

Bees see quite a different range of colors in comparison to humans. We know this because scientists and researchers have studied bees reactions to different sugar-water feeder colors. Studying a bee’s range of vision is helpful in preventing their future downfall. If we know what colors they are most attracted to, then we can plant more flowers that will provide them with nectar and pollen.

Most colors, except for red and infrared, can be seen by bees. The only colors they can’t see are ultraviolet and orange. This information is especially useful for this post, even though plants don’t usually have the color red. Because most plants need to be pollinated by animals or insects in order to make seeds that can grow, God made them to live closely with bees.

What can gardeners do with this information about how bees see? Bees see red and infrared as black. Now, some flowers use red to break up the other colors, making what looks like a landing strip light to draw bees into the center of the flower. See a red and yellow pattern on Blanketflower (Gaillardia species)? That means the plant has a pattern to draw bees to the middle.

What plants do not attract bees?

Are ground cover plants good for bare spots?

Ground cover plants are also great for fixing tricky bare spots in your yard! Many ground covers will bloom low-maintenance flowers, too, attracting pollinators such as butterflies and bees. When choosing a ground cover, pay attention to how much sun the area receives.

What are the best ground cover plants?

A favorite type is ‘Silver Carpet’ as it spreads easily, rarely flowers, and stays short at 4 to 6 inches tall. The best ground cover plants spread readily to cover lots of ground without becoming unruly. These 25 plants are vigorous but controllable ground covers.

Should you choose a ground cover plant?

Selecting a plant classified as a ground cover could be a great place to start. Yet, it also could add one more thing to your to-do list. If your plate is overflowing (like mine tends to do from time-to-time), then you might be in the market for a ground cover plant which brings life to your yard but is low-maintenance.

Do ground cover plants attract hummingbirds?

Not only do ground cover plants add color and beauty to your yard, they also attract and support pollinators (like bees and hummingbirds ). Certain ground covers prevent weeds from taking over an area, stop erosion on a hillside or thrive in areas where nothing else will grow, such as in dry shade under trees.

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