3 for 1 Groundcover

Improve soil quality on your bald lot with this suite of low cost and low maintenance groundcovers.

SunPart ShadeShade










Sun, Part Shade, Shade

Is there a bald lot in your life? Or perhaps a lot where a building was recently removed? If you are seeking a temporary solution to keep soil on your lot in place, the 3 for 1 Groundcover might be the lot design for you.

The 3 for 1 Groundcover offers residents a few alternative options to planting a traditional lawn. Each of these mixes can be planted on a freshly-demolished lot, a bald lot, or mixed in with existing vegetation to create a healthy groundcover. The suggested plant species are drought-tolerant, so this lot design will stay green through the summer without irrigation. The 3 for 1 Groundcover does not need fertilizers as the selected plants add nitrogen to the soil. Over time, the proposed groundcovers will make richer, healthier soil on your lot.

The 3 For 1 offers three alternatives to the City of Detroit’s current specification for post-demolition ‘greenscaping.’

Ideal Location: Residential lot in full sun to shade.


The 3 for 1 Groundcover is a very low cost lot design. The majority of the cost of installing this design is from the seeds for plants, and in possibly renting or purchasing equipment to prepare your lot. It is possible to install the lot design through the use of volunteer labor. If you have Internet access, it is possible to install this lot design without needing a car by ordering the seeds on-line or over the phone. The cost assumes that residents or volunteers have access to basic safety gear and garden tools.

Vegetation and Visibility

The 3 for 1 Groundcover is a high-visibility lot design, with low-growing grasses that will not reach above six inches in upright height. This lot design keeps a clear view from the street to the alley.

Planting Type

Most Interesting Season


Installing the 3 for 1 Groundcover will make for a fun and rewarding weekend with your friends, family or neighbors. The installation of this lot design should not require professional assistance if you, with the help and support of others, would like to build this design. Please refer to the Step-By-Step section for guidance. The installation process does not require any special, mechanized equipment. The most strenuous physical tasks are removing any existing vegetation from your lot, and scarifying, or raking the surface of the planting area. Machines like a power rake might help, but for a single lot, you should be okay with rakes, some good music and maybe also some refreshments. If you select to use a power rake, we recommend borrowing or renting multiple rakes, as this will ease and accelerate your installation process. Always hire a professional if you are not up for the challenge, but remember, this will increase your costs. Children may particularly enjoy broadcasting of the seeds.

Build Time Estimate

Six hands or less! With the help of friends, family or neighbors, this project could be completed in a weekend. The Field Guide assumes the lot is ‘construction ready,’ and all equipment and materials required for the lot design have been acquired and are ready to use.

Build Difficulty

Number of People Needed

Neighbor Labor

Time Taken to Build

Build Season

Transportation Intensity

Permit Requirements

Other Build Considerations


The 3 For 1 creates a very low maintenance lawn-like setting. Although the groundcovers do not grow tall, you will need to mow your lot when the groundcover reaches five inches in height, or to the height you wish to maintain. The groundcover will need to be watered during the first three weeks of germination and establishment.

Seasonal Upkeep Levels

  • Spring: Low
  • Summer: Low
  • Fall: Low
  • Winter: Low

Upkeep Frequency

Upkeep Skill Levels

Professional Assistance

Special Tools

Other Upkeep Considerations