STEPABLES.COM - Plants that tolerate foot traffic

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Frequently Asked Questions


Q. How far apart should I space my STEPABLE plants?

A. Spacing depends on the growth rate of the plant. The average growth rate is 6-8” in one year. Slow growing plants will spread an average of 2-4” per year. Fast growing plants will spread an average of 8-12”.

Things to remember if you space your plants far apart:
1. The farther you space you plants, the more maintenance will be required.
2. Weed maintenance will become an issue.
3. Bark dust can be used as an alternative until your plants fill in.
4. Pre-emergent weed control is okay, but will slow the growth of your plant.
5. Hand weeding always = time.
6. Plants that fill in fast will more than likely continue to creep into other areas unless boundaries are used.

Try our Plant Spacing Calculator at the bottom of the STEPSCAPES Design Center on our Home page to help determine how many plants you will need and how far apart to plant them.



 Q. How much water do my STEPABLE plants need?

A. This will depend on your soil and the ability of it to drain. Poor draining soil will need gravel or sand added to it. Note: With sand or gravel, drainage will be great during the winter and summer. However, plants surrounded by gravel will have a tendency to dry out in the heat. A mixture of soil and gravel will be the best scenario to give your plants the best drainage in all weather.


 Q. What is the difference between sun, part sun, shade and part shade?

A. Sun: All day sun and heat.
Part Sun: Afternoon sun if fine.
Shade: All day shade is fine.
Part Shade: Morning light is best.

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Q. Will my dog ruin my STEPABLES?

A. The dogs are not that big of a problem, but I would consider putting down additional gravel before you plant. If you do that, your plants will have a better chance for survival; not only for foot traffic, but also for the other things dogs do. The plants will grow and work like grout in and amongst the rock and every time the dog nubs it down, it won't be in mud, but in the gravel, where the plant will have a place to push back up from. There are many sizes of gravel. Pick one according to the look of the landscape, but also your dog. A little Terrier won't be able to get around on big gravel and a Great Dane will crush the smallest gravel in no time.

The best plants for dog traffic are those with runners underneath the soil surface. The reason for this is that no matter how much foot traffic there is, the plant will generally resurface.

It is ideal to plant on the outside edges first, staggering each set of plants to offset any “soldiers” in a straight line. You can plant in the middle, but the dogs may have a field day if that is where the heaviest traffic is. Consider placing stones in this area. You can then plant around the stones. This will help with the wear and tear on the plants, and it will also hold up better in foul weather.
Just remember...if you alternate the other plantings, they will all creep together eventually.

Plants that will tolerate dog traffic.,_Pool_and_Kid_Foot_Traffic.html




Q. Can I use STEPABLES in my driveway?

A. Many STEPABLE plants can take some degree of car traffic, but none are guaranteed to withstand the constant abuse of a car. Many of these plants, when planted around gravel will join together so tight with the gravel, that a very firm base will be made---enough to withstand a car driving over it.
Car traffic is much the same of foot traffic. These plants will not take burnouts, doing doughnuts over them or a boat parked on top of them. If sunlight, air and water are not given, the plants will die.


Q. How do I know what kind of soil I have?

A. Everyone has different soil in his or her yard. The best way to find out what kind of soil you have is to take a sample to your local garden center for analysis.



Q. Are STEPABLES deer resistant?

A. Yes many are. You can do a search for deer resistant STEPABLES on our plant search.




Q. Can I use STEPABLES as ground cover around my pool?

A. Yes you can. Many of these plants will be just fine around a pool area. However, you wouldn’t want to bring debris into the water, so don’t plant to close to the edge. Also, pick plants that bloom in spring not summer or do not bloom at all. The bees tend to love the summer bloomers and this could be troublesome for your guests.,_Pool_and_Kid_Foot_Traffic.html




 Q. Will STEPABLES invade the rest of my yard?

 A. Some STEPABLES have aggressive growth rates. If you are concerned with maintenance issues, plant slow to moderate growers. These will be easier to keep in check. Note: What some people consider invasive and a nightmare plant, others may consider a dream come true. When picking any groundcover, do your homework and be sure you will be happy with the final outcome.



 Q. What zone am I in? 

A. Check our STEPABLES Zone Map for proper identification.
Note: Our weather patterns seem to be ever changing and Mother Nature can be quite unpredictable. If you are nervous about survival, pick plants rated a zone lower than what you are listed for. This will help ensure survival. However, as with any living, breathing organism, it does not guarantee it.



Q. Why do some plants live in my yard that are not rated for my zone and others that should be fine, don’t make it?

A. Plants are very funny little creatures. Even the slightest change can make a plant grow like never before, or make it crash suddenly. Weather from year to year is probably the largest reason for great success and failure. Tropical plants are one of the hottest trends right now in landscaping. Most of these plants are “officially” taboo for cold areas, but there are many that will swear they can get them to live from year to year.



Q. I am sure I have a brown thumb. Why do my plants die?

A. Plants live and die. One year they may be fine and they next…total devastation. The can be so many factors that lead into a plants death---too much water, not enough water, too much fertilizer, root rot, from overwatering, death from lack of water.  Say you planted plants under a tree that were good for shade but this year the tree blew down...that changes everything. Now they will be exposed to full sun and may not be happy campers.
Also, when buying plants from a garden center, keep in mind that these plants have been given professional care from the beginning. Proper feeding, watering and maintenance gets that plant to your garden center in tip-top shape. When you take it home, there is a real chance you may not give it the attention it has gotten in the past. Ask you garden center personnel exactly how to take care of your plants and help them through that transitional phase.

READ THE LABEL-very important!!!  Do not put a shade plant in full sun or a full sun plant in the shade. Even it’s a perfect fit for your color scheme…it won’t make the transition and it will stress out the plants-resulting in death or at the very least, a weak plant that will succumb eventually.



Q. How do I determine foot traffic for my STEPABLE planting?

A. We have made it easy for you to estimate how much foot traffic your plants can withstand.

Light Foot Traffic: Plants will take traffic one to two times a week
Moderate Foot Traffic: Plants will take foot traffic one to two times a day.
Heavy Foot Traffic: Plants that will take foot traffic three times or more a day.

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Q. Can I over plant perennials with STEPABLES?

A. Yes…by all means! STEPABLES are the perfect blanket to cover your plants and give a push of color to make your perennials beds really stand out.



 Q. Can I plant STEPABLES over flower bulbs?

 A. Absolutely! Most flower bulbs will push right through your STEPABLE with no problem. Check out our          COMBINATION SENSATION containers and landscapes page for ideas.

Search for plants that can cover over flower bulbs:




 Q. Which STEPABLES can I use around roses?

A. Many STEPABLES can be planted around roses. Look for plants that require less moisture, full sun and great drainage. You can do a search on the Plant Info page to find out exactly which ones will work for your area.




Q. Which STEPABLE groundcovers are scented?

A. Thymes, Chamomile, Dianthus, Artemisia, Mints and Violas.




Q. Can I use STEPABLES as lawn replacements or lawn alternative?

A. Absolutely!  What you will need to decide is what will be the purpose of the lawn area. Lots of play time will require moderate to heavy foot traffic plants.  Once in a while walking through area can have light to moderate foot traffic plants. If the area is for ornamental purposes, any STEPABLE will work.




Q. What kind of maintenance do STEPABLES require?

A. Most will require no maintenance, while others will need a trim every so often.
TIP: If the plant is fast grower, it will be a “happy” plant and grow faster than the others and need more maintenance. If you do NOT want to spend a lot of time maintaining your plants, use STEPABLES with slow or moderate growth rates.



Q. What kind of fertilizer do I use on my STEPABLE groundcovers?

A. A simple  liquid feed will be great for your STEPABLES. You can use a slow release granule fertilizer, but it must be applied under the surface of the plant. Do not let any chemical lay on top of the plants. This applies to fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides (especially Slug and Snail bait).



Q. How deep do I plant my path or walkway with STEPABLES?

A. STEPABLE plants are grown in all sizes all over the country, so the best advice is to plant them as deep as the pots they are grown in. 



Q. Can I cut STEPABLES apart?

A. Yes. Most STEPABLES can be cut apart with a utility knife, or garden shears.



Q. Are STEPABLES perennials?

A.Yes, all of our STEPABLE plants are perennials that will come back year after year as long as you plant according to your cold hardniness zone.  If you are in zone 5 and but zone 7 plants, they may not survive for you.

However, for the most part, these plants will come back year after year for you. There is no guarantee that Mother Nature will not throw a curve and give you the worst winter ever-turning your zone 5 to zone 4 and your plants may not make it. This does not mean that the plant isn’t hardy, it just means the weather is unpredictable and plants will either adapt or not.



Q. How much room do I leave between the stones for the STEPABLE plants?

A. Leave a minimum of 2-4 inches so the flats have enough room to grow. 

Tip: Most plants will mogul up when they reach the end of the space provided. When planting bewteen stones, be careful to walk onto the plants often to keep them tigh to the ground.



Q.I have problems with slugs and nails. What can I use on my STEPABLES?

 A. I am quite fond of Deadline liquid. I am always concerned with small critters and dogs and cats that roam around our neighborhood, so the liquid Deadline works great because it dries pretty fast, it is water resistant, and the animals are not inclined to lick it up verses like the pellets.  Also, the liquid is seriously easy to get in and out of the tight spots with great accuracy and I can get very exact where I place it. Just squeeze and aim. I am pretty vigilant with using it and create cirlcles around my plants if I can, or long strips to prevent any little slimmy creatures from chomping my plants. 

Note: Deadline liquid can be applied onto the plants, but it makes a black line through them and is unsightly. 

Other "green" snail and slug catchers would be mellons placed upside down. Same with a piece of wood. The snails and slugs crawl under and attach themselves to the material.  Then you can just throw out the mellons or wood when you are satisfied with your results. 

Beer also works well. Just make it deep enough to drown the slugs and snails, otherwise they just crawl away to sleep it off!










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