Feel like I’m always beating up the foundation with the weedwhacker. What is a good replacement and easy care if remove a strip of grass from side of house. Grading and drainage is important in my subdivision. Mulch holds much moisture so wondering if rubber mulch, rock bed, what else? And should it extend out where the rain from roof hits it or is 10” enough?

3 Answers 3


I love using creeping thyme in places like this. Mother of Thyme grows much higher, if you prefer it about a foot off the ground. Some people are replacing entire lawns with creeping thyme these days. The best attribute is drought tolerance.


Daylilies if in the sun, hosta if in the shade.

The best mulch is arborist wood chips because they break down over time, feeding and building the soil. There's no maintenance beyond laying down a fresh inch or so every spring, unlike rock or rubber which require you to manually remove spent leaves and to use a leaf blower over and over again in the fall. Rubber and wood chips both help keep the soil moist, which in moderation is a good thing for the plants and prevents you from having to water the area much during the growing season (unless you're in a drought).

Contrary to what some rubber-is-great! sites say, wood chips do not attract insects to your home - not even termites; rock mulch is actually great for attracting everything except termites (I've never had so many box elder bugs and biting lady beetles than when I had rock mulch around my house).


I found myself pondering similar questions with my new home. The yard was essential a blank canvas with a lot of potential so I put plenty of thought into planning. One of the first things I decided was that I didn't want to deal with grass along the side of the house!

Handling the Side of the House

The following are a number of options to consider, starting with the simpler and cheaper options. (Note: Landscaping is my hobby not my profession, so please take these suggestions with a grain of salt.)

Edge Trimmer

Perhaps the simplest solution is to get a tool specifically designed to cut grass along edges: a lawn edger. There's a variety of brands and models, but they all are designed to cut in a narrow, controlled band. Though intended more for sidewalks and driveways, you should be able cut along the edge of the house.

  • Pro: Likely the cheapest option
  • Pro: A lawn edger can be used elsewhere in the yard
  • Con: Regular effort will still be needed to maintain the yard

Natural Ground Cover

Remove the grass from the edge of your home either by digging it up or by covering it until it dies off. (I suggest either cardboard or stone as these still allow air and water into the soil and won't bake it the way plastic will.)

Once the grass is gone, plant a ground cover plant. Evil Elf suggests thyme, but any low growing, wide spreading plant will work as long is its suitable for the sunlight, soil, and climate in the area.

  • Pro: Easy way to keep the yard green without needing to mow it
  • Con: Does not guarantee 100% coverage so some grass or weeds may still grow along the side of your home

Landscaping Fabric

Remove the grass (as before) then carefully lay down a roll of landscaping fabric and cut it to the desired width. Lay stone or rubber mulch on top to weigh down the fabric and keep it in place.

It's important that the top of the fabric be kept clear of dirt. If weeds take hold, the roots will work their way through and ruin the fabric. (This happened with my walkway and now I have to deal with weeds sprouting from hard to reach places.)

  • Pro: Can cover a narrow band along the side of the home
  • Con: Requires skill to install correctly

Stone Bed

Dig a trench that's a least a foot deep. Place some vinyl or metal edging along the outside edge. Fill the trench with drainage stone then, if desired, add a layer of decorative stone on top.

The depth of the bed and the edging are both important. Speaking from personal experience, a bed that is too shallow and has no clear boundaries can easily become overrun with weeds.

You can opt to install drainage tile as part of this project. It can be used to carry water away from the foundation of your home.

  • Pro: Only needs occasional maintenance (clear debris, pick up any displaced stone, etc.)
  • Con: Labor intensive to install

Flower Garden

Remove the grass (as per "Natural Ground Cover") two to four feet from the foundation, then spread mulch. If desired, edge with brick, stone, metal, or vinyl.

To determine the size of the flower bed, I suggest visiting your local nursery. There are a variety of bushes, shrubs, and decorative grasses that can easily fill in a two foot bed. If you expand the bed to four feet, it can fit all but the largest of plants.

  • Pro: Offers plenty of opportunities to beautify your home
  • Con: Can be expensive and require lots of maintenance

Side Note: Mulch can retain some moisture, but from my experience it isn't enough to prevent proper drainage. Also, plants will break up the soil so that any water they don't absorb will drain more easily.

Patio, Deck and Other Structures

I'm not suggesting you add a patio or deck just so you can avoid mowing along the side of your house. However, structures like these do provide the benefit of adding distance between your home and your yard.

For example, my deck covers thirty feet along the perimeter of my house. Using a weed whacker under the deck is far easier than doing so along the edge of the house.

  • Pro: Adds recreational space to your yard
  • Con: Expensive and/or labor intensive


I would not expect any of my above suggestions to have a significant impact on how well water drains from your yard. However, you will need to be careful if you live in an area where flash floods are a threat. In that case, be sure to preserve whatever grading exists along the edge of the home.

And should it extend out where the rain from roof hits it or is 10” enough?

The best option for dealing with rain from the roof is gutters. If you don't already have them, I suggest hiring a professional to install some. Sure, you may have to clear them of leaves and other debris once in a while, but they'll help direct water away from your home and towards wherever is best to dispose of excess rain water (such as a sewer or reservoir.)

If you choose not to install gutters or you're concerned that they won't be enough, then make sure the grading is sufficient to carry water away from the home. It shouldn't matter if the water lands.

Whatever you chose to do, I wish you luck!

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