- List of ground cover plants
- Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Ice Plants for Ground Cover
- Can I Plant Pachysandra Plants in Sunny Areas?
- Encouraging Pachysandra to Spread – Knowledgebase Question
- Ask Mr. Smarty Plants
- Benefits of Evergreen Ground Cover Plants
- Best Evergreen Cover Plants
- 1. Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)
- 2. Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis)
- 3. Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
- 4. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- 5. Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)
- 6. Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)
- 7. Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)
- 8. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia Nummularia)
- 9. Trailing Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
- 10. Dragons Blood (Red Sedum)
- 11. Creeping Thyme (Thymus Serpyllum Coccineus)
- Tread Tolerant
- Water Wise
- Soil Saving
- Ground covers help fill in difficult areas with green in the garden
List of ground cover plants
List of ground cover plants. Many ground cover plants are vines that have no support. You can plant them in the ground with well-composted soil. But in and around the southwest most will do better in shady conditions. Underneath a tree or morning, sun and afternoon shade works best.
Here is a list of ground cover plants that you can use in shade and or full sun.
Garden Ground Covers
Star Jasmine – Is a vine that spreads about 20-25 ft. wide about 8″ tall if left alone. It will have a hard time growing in full sun but does retain its foliage during the winter months. Blooming season is from mid-spring until about early summer. White star-shaped blooms and a fast-growing vine. Will grow about 2-3 ft. per year.
Image by Welcome to all and thank you for your visit ! ツ from Image by Anna Pismenskova from
Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
A fast-growing vine and likes shade it will have a hard time growing in full sun. It produces a nice blue flower during most of the spring season. Sometimes called common periwinkle and or vinca vine. It will grow to about 3-4 inches tall and will spread 2ft. or more in one year. It is a perennial but goes dormant during in places where temperatures get below 32° Fahrenheit during the winter seasons. Space them out about 2-3 ft. apart for quick groundcover.
Image by Stephanie Edwards from
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
This IVY grows very fast and tolerates southwestern sun than the two previous vines mentioned in this post. Plant 2-3 plants and space them 7-8 ft. apart for a fast-growing ground cover. It will eventually grow up to 60-80 ft. in length. It is considered an invasive plant species in places where there is lots of rainfall. This fast-growing vine will cover bare ground in 1-2 years’ time. Height 4-6 inches. Will do better in shady conditions.
Ice Plants for Ground Cover
Ice plant (Delosperma nubigenum ) will tolerate the full hot sun even in mid-summer. You can also use it in a large decorative container for a beautiful cascading effect. Extremely fast-growing groundcover. Will spread about 12 ft. wide and about 4-6 inches tall. The yellow variety (photo below) is the hardiest and will typically bloom longer than the other types of ice plants. Space them about 3-4 ft. apart for some quick groundcover during the summer seasons. There are numerous colors yellow, purple, and red flowers are the most common. Low maintenance and drought tolerant.
Yellow Ice plant
Purple Ice plant
Red Ice Plants
White Dutch Clover – (Trifolium repens)
White clover is a good groundcover for the southwest. It grows slowly and only gets about 1/2 inch in height. Great for high traffic areas. The foliage is green but it produces a small white flower that attracts bees. It can be mowed during the blooming seasons helping reduce the bee population. It tolerates poor soils and is a low maintenance ground cover.
Image by Jan Haerer from
Dichondra (Dichondra repens)
Loves good moist soil this makes it hard to grow in places where there is low rainfall. However, It will grow in the southwest if you water it like you would a Fescue lawn. Moderate growing plant and can tolerate full sun but does better in shaded areas. In regions where there is heavy rainfall, it is considered a nuisance weed.
beautiful green Dichondra repens grass spread overground
Ajuga – (Ajuga reptans)
Another good spreading groundcover that will give deep blue flower spikes. Ajuga produces a good looking contrasting bronze-tinged green foliage. It will form a dense, carpet-like mat, even in shady areas. It will also do well in full sun…but will get sun scorch on foliage if not enough water is given during the summer months.
You can also tuck it in rock walls or gardens, between stepping stones, or between shrubs in borders. It is a herbaceous perennial meaning it will regrow from their own crowns during spring and summer seasons.
Creeping Thyme – (Thymus serpyllum) The most common name is “Mother of thyme” and is a low growing ground cover that can also be used as a herb. It is a low growing ground cover reaching a height of about 2 maybe 3 inches. It will spread quickly and can be used as an alternative to high maintenance lawn grasses.
It can also be easily transplanted remove with a small shovel with the roots and place it elsewhere. It will grow during the growing seasons – spring until late summer. All types of Thume like alkaline soil making it a good plant for the Southwest. It produces a small light pink flower sometimes white.
creeping thyme for ground cover
Fast Growing Vines for landscaping – Grasses for the Southwest.
Can I Plant Pachysandra Plants in Sunny Areas?
For the homeowner who wants to maintain a well groomed lawn, the idea of that lawn having bare spots in certain areas can be quite the annoyance. It takes a lot of effort on the part of the homeowner to keep a lawn well maintained. Between regular maintenance of the lawn including regular mowing, feedings with specific types of fertilizer, and watering the lawn a few times per week, the homeowner devotes several hours per week maintaining the lawn, so when bare spots appear on that lawn, the first thing that a homeowner wants to do is find a way to cover them that looks as natural as possible.
A great way to accomplish this is with a few Pachysandra plants. One thing that you should know about Pachysandra is that Pachysandra plants and sun exposure will harm the plants. Overexposure to sunlight will cause a Pachysandra plant to turn brown. These ground coverage plants prefer a more acidic organic soil mix. The soil should be well drained and kept moist to get the best results from the plant. There are several varieties of Pachysandra including Procumbens, Green Carpet, Variegata, and Pachysandra Terminalis (Japanese Pachysandra). Each plant has its own characteristics which are described below.
Upon close inspection this ground cover plant spreads underground runners and it’s actually wider than it is high.
This variety of pachysandra is a native of Florida, Louisiana, and West Virginia. When it’s matured, the plant can reach a height of 6-10 inches and its toothed leaves are what form the plant’s thick growth patterns.
This variety of pachysandra is a preferred choice for landscaping purposes. The plant is used for coverage in sparse areas of a lawn. It’s also used for edgings along driveways and walkway paths. The plant can reach a height of 6-8 inches when fully matured and it’s one of the few plants that can even be planted under pine trees and flourish.
Another name for the pachysandra Variegata is a silver edge, and it’s another plant that’s perfectly happy when planted in a shady area. The plant can reach a maximum height of 6-8 inches. It leaves are a green color with tinges of white around its edges, thus it’s moniker of silver edge.
All of these plants are quite suitable for different landscaping applications around a person’s home, and will certainly add some curb appeal to any home where the plants are used.
Do you want additional information on how to use Pachysandra for your garden? Then contact JW-Pachysandra! We can help you with all your Pachysandra needs!
If you are interested in gardening and would like to use Pachysandra plants, don’t go to any of the big name stores because they tend to rip you off. Instead, buy your plants at JW-Pachysandra – you can’t beat the low price and high-quality combination that JW-Pachysandra provides and our plants are environmentally safe.
We have over 40 years of experience in growing and selling quality Pachysandra plants to customers all over the U.S. We sell Pachysandra in five different varieties and offer FREE shipping nationwide.
Call us today at 845-223-3801.
Encouraging Pachysandra to Spread – Knowledgebase Question
Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis)
Posted by admin
Pachysandra is a beautiful ground cover but it does grow very slowly. While you try to encourage it to fill in as quickly as possible, keep in mind that pachysandra prefers a moist, rich, slightly acid soil (pH 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal) supplemented with plenty of organic matter.
Generally, an annual topdressing with compost is sufficient to meet its needs, but in the beginning you may wish to supplement that with a light application of a balanced granular fertilizer in early spring and again in late spring. A water soluble fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro would also be fine – just don’t overdo it with fertilizer. Remember, too, that since your planting is competing with the maples, you may need to water it occasionally during dry periods even after it is established.
Pachysandra usually grows between 6 and 12 inches high, and in early spring the plant blooms. It is possible that the vertical growth you are describing is the “bloom”, a 1 to 2 inch long upward spike coming out of the center of the leaves. The plant actually spreads by underground runners, and it is true that a light shearing or pinching in early spring can encourage the plants to send up more runners and thus thicken the planting faster. This can be done by hand or in some cases with a lawn mower. (Take off no more than 25% of the height if you opt to do this.) You can try it with a few plants to see how they respond before committing to the procedure. If you do shear them, be sure they are well watered during the following months as they move into more aggressive growth.
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Wednesday – June 29, 2011
From: Atlanta, GA
Title: Non-invasive sun ground cover for Atlanta GA
Answered by: Barbara Medford
I would like to find a non-invasive ground cover for zone 7 (Atlanta, GA) in full sun. I had a bed of ivy with daylilies on a slight slope. I have pulled up the ivy but want something that is not as invasive that will also accommodate the daylilies.
We are glad you pulled up the English ivy. See this Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Plant Working Group on Hedera helix, English ivy. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow naturally. We don’t like invasives either, so getting rid of a plant that is both invasive and non-native scores points.
We will go to our Native Plant Database, and under Combination Search, select on Georgia, “herb” (herbaceous blooming plant) under Habit, “sun” under Light Requirements and Height of 0-1 ft. You did not say if you wanted perennial plants, but we are asssuming you do, and check “perennial” under Duration. You could use the same search method to find shrubs, trees, ferns, succulents, and grasses for your purposes. This search got us a total of 32 plants, so we will go through and pick some as examples. You can follow each plant link to see what the growing conditions, moisture requirements and general appearance are on that plant, and make your own selections if you prefer.
Ground Covers for Atlanta GA:
Acmella oppositifolia var. repens (Oppositeleaf spotflower)
Anemone caroliniana (Carolina anemone)
Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy)
Chrysopsis mariana (Maryland goldenaster)
Coreopsis auriculata (Lobed tickseed)
Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s breeches)
Indigofera miniata (Coastal indigo)
Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit)
From the Image Gallery
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February 11, 2016 – Someone told me that Vinca would be a great ground cover for my very large mostly shaded area. How can I establish it and where can I get it? Thanks in advance.
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Ground cover plants are low-level plants that spread across the ground to fill in any awkward gaps or vacant areas and create a look of fullness at the base of your larger plants. They operate almost like a carpet, providing an attractive foundation for the rest of your garden to sit on, which gives the feel of a much more finished and well thought out design compared to bare soil. When using ground cover, gardeners often select evergreen types as the foliage keep their color all year-round, providing interest while also typically being low-maintenance.
Benefits of Evergreen Ground Cover Plants
Evergreen ground cover plants can operate in a similar way to mulch. As they cover the soil, they are able to offer a layer of insulation, maintaining the soil’s cool temperature in the summer and warm temperature in the winter. This is beneficial to your other plants because it will help protect roots from being damaged by low temperatures in colder seasons. They are also able to trap in moisture in the soil, which means you will need to water plants less frequently and potentially save energy and cut water bills.
Ground cover plants are able to minimize weed production in two ways. First of all, they cover the soil so that it is much harder for weed seeds to germinate. And second, once ground cover plants are mature, they are able to prevent weeds from growing by physically suppressing them. If, like most people, you find weeds to be a nuisance in your garden, then ground cover plants might be an excellent way to tackle them without putting in any hard work. You can say goodbye to the hours spent on your knees digging up weeds, and instead, have some beautiful foliage growing in their place.
Most evergreen ground cover plants are very easy to look after, requiring very little maintenance. They typically grow well in various areas and aren’t too fussy when it comes to the type of soil they prefer. As long as you plant them in an appropriate position so that they have access to enough sunlight or shade, depending on their preference, then you shouldn’t have much trouble getting them to thrive. They also contribute to a low-maintenance yard, as you can grow ground cover plants in place of grass, which will then prevent you from having to mow the lawn.
The main visual benefit of any evergreen plant is that it provides year-round interest in the garden. Often, during winter, gardens can look bleak and dead, but with a good selection of evergreen plants, gardens can look lush throughout every season, as these plants never lose their healthy green foliage.
Prevent Soil Erosion
The web created by ground covering plants helps to keep the soil together and prevent erosion. This can be helpful in gardens with slopes or areas of soil on hillsides or mountainsides, where the soil has a tendency to come loose and slip away. Ground cover plants also prevent erosion during heavy rainfall, which can wash soil away, as the plants help to protect the soil and hold it together.
Fill in Gaps
If you have awkward spaces in your garden or lawn that are difficult to fill, then ground cover plants are an easy solution. They happily grow in all directions to fill any space, making easy work of gaps being filled.
Evergreen ground cover plants are typically inexpensive if you consider the size of the space they fill for their cost. If you have a large garden then filling it with shrubs or flowering plants can prove quite costly, but the option of leaving the soil bare can look dull and unfinished. In this scenario, ground cover plants offer the perfect solution, covering the soil to create interest and the look of a finished design, without breaking the bank.
Habitat for Beneficial Insects
Ground cover plants create ideal habitats for beneficial insects to live. Having such insects make a home in your garden is good news for your plants because they help keep pest populations down, which could otherwise prove harmful to your plants. Evergreen ground cover plants also create ideal habitats for slugs and snails, which may have a detrimental effect in some areas. In most cases, the benefits of beneficial insects and predators will outweigh the negative of increasing a slug population, but if you are already struggling with a slug problem, then it would be advisable to avoid ground cover plants that will likely worsen your situation.
Improves Soil Quality
Ground cover plants act as natural mulch that can help improve soil quality by increasing the humus level. A better quality soil with more organic matter will result in healthier plants, which are more likely to thrive.
Best Evergreen Cover Plants
1. Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)
This cascading plant works well in a variety of situations, from ground cover to rockeries, container planters, and hanging baskets. Its evergreen foliage is needle-like, and the starry flowers come in pastel shades of lavender, pink, blue, and white, blooming in spring. The stems, which turn woody over time, have a spreading habit that makes them an ideal candidate for pretty flowering ground cover. However, if you’re looking for a quick fix to cover a vacant space in your garden, then creeping phlox might not be the answer as it only grows at a moderate speed, with a height of around 5 inches and spread of 2 feet.
Creeping phlox is versatile because it can grow in full sun to partial shade, though it would prefer full sun given the option. It can also tolerate a variety of soil conditions but would prefer a well-draining, moist soil. In general, this is an easy-growing plant, though some maintenance is required to keep it flourishing. Mature stems may not re-flower, so pruning stems is necessary to encourage new blooms.
2. Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis)
This is a tough ground cover plant that is tolerant of many conditions that other plants would not survive. It likes to be in partial to full shade, which makes it useful for planting in dark corners of gardens or shaded areas under trees. It is also tolerant of drought, though it needs plentiful water when young to help it become established.
Once mature, it can continue to thrive even with very little moisture. It enjoys an acidic soil that is high in organic material, but it will still grow well in poor soil, including high clay content. As an added bonus, this plant is also resistant to most pests. The hardy nature of this plant has its obvious benefits, but being so tough also has its drawbacks. The plant’s ability to withstand less than ideal conditions has led to it also becoming a mildly invasive species in some areas. Keep it under control with annual pruning in spring.
Japanese spurge does produce a small white flower, but these are fairly inconsequential, and in fact, the plant is usually grown just for its leathery green foliage. Over winter, the leaves do tend to yellow, but being an evergreen, the plant does not lose its leaves.
3. Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Native to North America, Asia, and Europe, this low-growing shrub is exceptionally winter hardy and makes excellent ground cover in colder climates. It actually fares much better in low temperatures than it does in high temperatures and will struggle to grow well in hot or humid environments. It is known for growing well in poor or infertile soil, though given a choice, it would ideally like to be in a well-draining, moderately moist soil, in full sun.
It has a slow creeping habit, typically growing to between 3 and 6 feet wide by rooting at nodes that come into contact with the ground. This plant is very attractive, with dark green shiny foliage that bronzes over winter before transforming back to green in springtime. Spring also brings with it an abundance of clustered flowers that bloom early in the season, usually in April or May.
The small flowers are just a quarter-inch long and are creamy pink. Once the flowers have gone, the plant produces spherical, red fruits that resemble berries. Though these fruits are edible, they are not cultivated for consumption as they are considered bland, though they are popular among birds and other small creatures. This plant is predominantly used as a medium to large-scale ground cover, though it can also be used successfully in rock gardens, containers, or draping over walls. As with all evergreens, this plant provides year-round interest in the garden, though the production of both the flowers and the berries give the plant a changing seasonal interest.
4. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
English Ivy is an enormously popular choice for ground cover as it can create a dense blanket of cover in a relatively short amount of time and requires practically no care at all. It covers the ground so heavily that it works very well to prevent weeds from growing and also holds the ground together well to prevent soil erosion.
It’s creeping, climbing, and trailing habit make it ideal for a whole host of scenarios, and it can grow in the shade, so it is able to grow under cover of trees where many other plants cannot grow. It will grow in full sun, but too much harsh direct sun can burn the leaves or cause them to change color. It prefers a well-draining soil high in organic content, though it will grow well in almost any type of soil. Ivy has become a nuisance in some areas as it grows to excess and can get so dominant that it prevents other nearby plants from growing.
Be careful not to plant it too close to other delicate plants that may suffer inhibited growth. To keep your ivy from getting out of control, you can prune it back, ideally in spring. Ivy responds well to pruning and will not be harmed by vigorous cutting back.
5. Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)
This low-growing creeping shrub is most commonly used as a ground cover plant, and due to its aromatic scent is best utilized in areas where people can enjoy the fragrance, such as along pathways, near seating areas, or around porches. This plant produces both flowers and berries, though neither are considered to be particularly attractive.
Instead, the creeping juniper is grown for its foliage, which takes on a blue tint during warmer months and a purple-red tint in colder months. With a typical height of just 6 inches but a spread of up to 8 feet, this plant is great for covering large areas. Its benefits are that it is particularly good at preventing soil erosion when grown on slopes or hillsides, and it is incredibly easy to grow and actually thrives on neglect.
Though it prefers well-draining soil and a position of full sun, it will grow very well in dry and infertile soil and in hot conditions where most other ornamental plants would struggle. As well as being tolerant of neglect and various growing conditions, this plant also requires no maintenance. It doesn’t need to be pruned as many creeping ground cover plants do, and in fact does not respond well to being cut back, so is better off left to its own devices to spread as it pleases.
6. Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)
This decorative shrub produces an abundance of showy white flowers in late spring and early summer, with evergreen foliage year round. It is a good ground cover option if you are looking for something with more of a visual interest than standard green carpet ground cover. It grows well in free-draining soil and full sun and ideally should be allowed these conditions if you want it to produce the mass of flowers it is known for. Aside from its preference for full sun, this plant is hassle-free to grow and has very little need for care or maintenance. It is incredibly rewarding for very little work and can grow at an impressive rate to cover ground quickly.
7. Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)
Grown as ground cover, this plant grows to around one foot in height, but its spread knows no bounds. With a similar growth pattern to Ivy, this plant will spread across the ground, climb up walls, fences, trees, or anything else it can grip hold of. As the name suggests, it creeps with ease to rapidly fill a space with its evergreen foliage.
Many varieties are available, with several different colors of foliage to choose from, including variegated green and gold types. This plant likes to grow in partial shade, though it will still grow in almost full shade. It prefers a regular well-draining soil but will grow in practically any soil type, including infertile or dry soil. The plant is drought-tolerant, and in fact, the only condition it will not grow in is wet soil.
This plant is incredibly resilient and will withstand a range of temperatures and conditions. While this has obvious benefits, it has also contributed to this plant becoming an invasive plant in some areas. It can quickly dominate an area of a garden, overflowing into lawns or other unwelcome areas. If you are wary of this particular trait, select one of the variegated types, as these tend to be less aggressive.
8. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia Nummularia)
Also commonly known as Moneywort, this pretty ground cover plant produces bright yellow blooms throughout the month of June. The foliage of this plant is also yellow, bringing a shock of color to the garden all year-round. The plant grows best in full sun to partial shade, ideally with full sun in the morning and some shelter from the strong rays of the afternoon. When grown in the sun, the foliage will be a more vibrant yellow, whereas growth in a shaded area will produce a lime green colored foliage. The plant thrives in wet conditions, though soil will need to be well draining to avoid root rot. Dryer soil will help to keep the plant from growing too quickly if this is a concern you have.
This plant works excellent as ground cover in large spaces or areas where it can have the freedom to spread. It grows aggressively to form a low and blanket of cover, suffocating weeds and pulling out roots in its path. When leaf nodes come into contact with the ground, it will take root and spread further, making it a poor choice of ground cover in small flower beds or areas near pathways you would like to keep neat and compact.
9. Trailing Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
This is a great choice of ground cover plant for any area of the garden because it grows well in any light, including full sun or shade, which is an unusual attribute for a plant. As well as trailing along the ground, this plant trails down the side of wherever it is allowed to grow, making beautiful low-level cascading features in the garden while also offering all the usual benefits of ground cover plants. Grow it along walls where it can drape down and provide visual interest where there wouldn’t ordinarily be any.
One benefit of this plant, if you are looking to cover a large space fairly quickly, is that it grows quickly. Plant it in early spring to allow it the time to grow a strong root system that will be able to withstand low winter temperatures. Within the space of a year, a small plant should have covered several square feet of ground, which is great if you are looking to quickly transform the look of your garden. This, however, could be a drawback if you are growing it in a small space, as it can quickly get out of control. If you want a more manicured look, you will need to keep on top of pruning the plant to prevent it from getting too wild.
This plant is favored by gardeners because of its delicate and pretty blue flowers, which release a fragrant scent, filling the garden with perfume. Plant it under trees for ground cover or in garden beds along pathways where people will walk past and can enjoy the scent.
10. Dragons Blood (Red Sedum)
Credit to patrickstandish
This hardy ground cover plant is a good choice for areas where soil conditions are less than ideal, as it will adapt to poor soil. It is also fairly drought-tolerant and can withstand a wide range of temperatures, making it suitable for planting almost anywhere, particularly in areas where other plants may struggle to survive.
The flowers of this plant, as you may guess from the name, are a deep scarlet red. This plant loves the sun, and the flowers actually respond to it, with the flowers becoming even more vibrant when they have access to long hours in the sun. This plant grows quickly, spreading across the ground to create areas of cover, and at full maturity, it can reach heights of 8 inches.
11. Creeping Thyme (Thymus Serpyllum Coccineus)
This hardy plant is tolerant of high heat and drought, making it ideal for areas with hotter than average summers and low rainfall. It spreads low along the ground to create very dense blankets of foliage. The fine foliage is evergreen and turns a bronze color in fall and winter. Plentiful delicate purple flowers bloom on 3-inch stems in late June and July, creating a vibrant and colorful blanket on the soil. Once blooms have faded, prune back their stems to promote new growth next year.
This plant is tough enough to withstand foot traffic, making it suitable for planting along walkways and flower bed edges where it may get flattened. If planted in full sun and well-draining soil, this plant will mostly take care of itself. It grows easily and requires very little maintenance, though dead stems can be pruned back each spring to encourage new growth.
Everyone’s looking for low maintenance ideas for the garden and one of the best solutions that I’ve come across is to use ground covers.
They are ideal for a variety of situations such as an alternative to lawns, dry areas without easy access to water, and slopes.
Most ground covers are easy to care for. You don’t have to mow or fertilize as frequently as a lawn and many of them are quite drought resistant.
You would be amazed at the range of plants that are suitable to use as a ground cover. Sometimes it is just a matter of imagining how a plant would look growing en masse or selecting those that are known to spread rapidly. Whatever your growing conditions and design requirements there is a plant suitable for you.
Living is a key word in the phrase “outdoor living space.” It’s an area that’s meant to be enjoyed and used, which means high foot traffic in certain places. High foot traffic leads to bare spots. When a path isn’t appropriate, ground cover plants are the solution.
Blue Star Creeper (Isotoma fluviatus) – With a potential spread of 18 inches, this evergreen ground cover will fill in a space quickly. Tiny leaves and pale blue flowers give the plant a delicate look. Blue Star Creeper holds up well to foo traffic.
Hardy in zones 5 – 10; 2 – 4-inches tall x 12 – 18-inch spread; full sun.
‘Platts Black’ Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida) – This is a very low growing plant that forms a carpet of tiny fern-like foliage. It’s a natural for planting between stepping stones. ‘Platts Black’ foliage is a blend of dark bronze, green and eggplant purple.
Hardy in zones 5 – 9; 1 – 3-inches tall x 8 – 12-inch spread; full sun to partial shade.
‘Pink Chintz’ Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) – Choose thyme as a drought tolerant replacement for lawns in small spaces. ‘Pink Chintz’ produces pink flowers in spring and will tolerate moderate foot traffic.
Hardy in zones 4 – 8; 3 inches tall x 12 inch spread; full sun.
Whether you are water conscious because of need or desire, drought tolerant plants play an important role when designing a water wise garden. These are plants that thrive in low moisture environments. You’d be surprised at the diverse selection of plants available – even ground covers. Drought tolerant ground covers are excellent for filling in a space where moisture is at a premium.
‘Angelina’ Sedum (Sedum rupestre) – The trailing habit of this succulent ground cover is particularly attractive in containers or tucked into cracks and crevices. It’s also The chartreuse color is eye catching.
Hardy in zones 3 – 10; 3 – 6-inches tall x 12 – 14-inch spread; full sun.
‘Moss Rose’ Hens & Chicks (Sempervivum x ‘Moss Rose’) – ‘Moss Rose’ produces rosettes of succulent, blue-gray leaves tinged with red. It’s a lovely addition to dry areas with poor soil.
Hardy in zones 3 – 8; 4 – 6-inches tall x 4 – 6-inch spread; full sun.
‘Goldie’ Yarrow (Achillea tomentosa) – If you love the look of a cottage garden, this ground cover version of the classic yarrow is for you. Soft green, downy foliage forms a dense mat year round and bright yellow flowers repeatedly from early summer to fall.
Hardy in zones 4 – 8; 6 – 8-inches tall x 12 – 18-inch spread; full sun.
Do you have a place in your garden where water runoff or strong wind makes it impossible to grow anything? You’ve got an erosion issue and ground covers can help. Try a vining ground cover that will knit together and carpet the area. This will help hold the soil in place.
‘Yellow Ripple’ Ivy (Hedra helix) – Ivy is a classic evergreen ground cover. This variety’s foliage is gray-green with pale yellow edges. In winter the leaves take on a purple-red cast. ‘Yellow Ripple’ is a slow grower that will form a low growing, dense mat.
Hardy in zones 5 – 9; 6 – 10-inches tall x 12 – 24-inch spread; full sun to partial shade.
Golden Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) – Golden moneywort cascades across the ground forming a mat of yellow leaves with deep gold blooms in summer. This is the more behaved cousin of green moneywort.
Hardy in zones 3 – 9; 1 – 3-inces tall x 18 – 24-inch spread; full sun to partial shade.
Wintercreeper Euonymus (Euonymus fortune ‘Coloratus’) – This evergreen ground cover spreads rapidly and thrives with very little care. It’s one of my favorites for multiple situations. The evergreen foliage turns purple in winter.
Hardy in zones 4 – 8; 6 – 12-inches tall x 4 foot spread; full sun to partial shade.
*Photos courtesy of The Berry Family of Nurseries.
Ground covers help fill in difficult areas with green in the garden
Have a trouble spot in the garden? Whether you want to plant a flower bed border or replace dying grass under your shady trees, ground cover might be the answer.
Spreading plants that fully cover soil surface, ground covers serve a variety of functions in the garden. From filling bare areas to offering options for grass removal or softening hardscapes, they offer a water-wise and drought-tolerant option. They also help control weed growth and prevent erosion.
Growing up to 4 inches tall, you can choose from evergreen or deciduous varieties, both flowering and nonflowering, in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Dense, lower ground covers are well-suited to areas between flagstones or pavers where they can handle foot (and paw) traffic and soften hardscape.
Creative use of ground cover can act as a transitional design element — an understory to taller perennials, shrubs and trees, providing contrast and horizontal interest. It often serves as the first layer in a planting bed, followed by additional layers of plants in increasing heights.
Before you begin planting, weed and turn the soil, adding more if necessary. You’ll want to keep a close eye on the plants if you begin your project at this time, or you can wait until the weather cools in the fall, when planting creates far less stress on plants.
Plant light needs vary. Be sure you understand terms on plant tags before choosing a ground cover. Find out how much sun or shade you have in the area you want to cover. The general guidelines are:Full sun, six to eight hoursPartial sun, four to six hoursPartial shade, two to four hoursDappled sun or shade, three to four hours of inconsistent lightFull shade, less than three hours
However, unique gardening characteristics challenge us in Central Texas. When a plant tag indicates full sun, or Zone 8, a label might not cover the intensity of our sun in the afternoon’s most extreme temperatures. Make sure you know whether your plant wants early-morning sun or midafternoon sun.
Providing solutions in shade
Trees bring us shade and protection from the blazing summer sun. When they grow to maturity, the full shade under their canopy often makes it difficult for turf to survive. Shade from walls and fences also block the sun. Some turfs tolerate more shade than others, but in the deepest shade they can’t survive, leaving bare soil.
Shade-loving ground covers can replace bare spots with a pretty palette of green. Try these:Confederate or star jasmine (sun or shade)English ivy (can be aggressive)Horse herbAlgerian ivyPlum yewAjugaTexas sedgeCedar sedge (part shade)Texas frog fruit (full sun or part shade)LiriopeMondgrassLyre leaf sage
Sunny ground covers add interest and depth to beds
Many ground covers are drought tolerant and water wise, adding a tough carpet of color in dry, sunny beds. Try these:Drought tolerant evergreen perennialPurple trailing lantanaVerbenaCreeping germanderPink skullcapSantolinaWedeliaSilver ponyfootGregg’s mistflowerLamb’s earSedum (sun or part shade)Silver mound artemisia
Determine which of these options is best suited to cover your area. Some ground covers spread quickly and fill large areas easily. Others take their time and seem better suited to small spaces.
Research your plant options and consult with local independent nursery staff for additional recommendations and tips.