Ground Cover Plants and Flowers: Ground cover plants solve all problems: they retain moisture, control erosion and provide habitat for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. While grass is usually the best way to fill an empty space, low-growing plants are sometimes a better – and prettier – option. There are so many options to choose from, including old favorites like Pachysandra and Vinca, as well as small, perennial and annual shrubs.
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To make sure your ground covers do the job (you know, dress up your landscape), follow the directions on their plant care label to give them the right conditions. FYI: full sun means that an area receives more than 6 hours of direct sun per day, partial sun varies from 3 to 6 hours of direct sun and the total shade can go up to 3 hours of sun. If you are planting a shrub or perennial that you want to last from year to year, make sure it is suitable for your USDA hardiness zone (find yours here). And remember that while these ground cover plants are extremely tolerant, they still need to be watered during dry spells in the first year or two until their root systems are well established.
Lily of the valley
Although it is one of the most resistant plants (er, tolerant), lily of the valley seems as sweet as possible with darling white bells hanging from green leaves with strips. This sweet-scented perennial is easily propagated, so keep it in check by planting it in well-maintained areas, such as along walkways or near house foundations. It prefers full shade, but can withstand the morning sun.
The low-growing creeping thyme mats are covered with tiny purple or white flowers in late spring, making them a pollinator’s paradise. This tenacious perennial plant spreads quickly, thrives in full sun, is resistant to cold, grows in poor soil and tolerates drought once established. And, of course, you can cut the leaves for cooking.
This type of evergreen is available in a range of shapes and sizes. It is as hard as the nails once established, tolerating bad soil and drought conditions. The horizontal branches of the creeping junipers form a dense carpet that weeds cannot penetrate. He prefers full sun.
Dead nettle, also known as Lamium, is a slow growing perennial with silver splashed leaves and bursts of purple, pink or white flowers that appear in spring and early summer. It prefers shade, but will tolerate a little sun.
The bright leaves in dark green, bronze and chocolate brown tones make this perennial an excellent low-growing lawn alternative for almost any climate. In summer, small spikes of blue, purple, pink or white flowers appear. Ajuga spreads quickly under varying conditions, tolerating shade or sun.
Aronia is a low-growing native shrub that has tiny white flowers in the midst of bright green foliage. When several are planted together, they form a dense hedge that thrives in almost any type of soil and in full sun.
Low growth sedum varieties make ground cover easy to care for, especially since its fleshy leaves retain enough water to survive periods of drought. While some have small flowers, the main focal point is the colorful foliage, which ranges from the Charterhouse to the Bronze. It needs full sun to survive.
If you have seen the lavender fields in Provence, you know that this perennial plant with a sweet fragrance with purple or blue flowers looks incredibly planted en masse. He doesn’t like wet feet, so make sure the soil is well drained. It needs full sun to flourish.
In early spring, flowers that resemble fairy wings appear on this perennial. Epimedium, also called Bishop’s Cap, can tolerate dry weather once established. It is resistant to cold and prefers partial shade.
This lesser-known perennial has small mounds of attractive grassy foliage and tiny ball-shaped flowers that appear in late spring through early summer. He likes the part in full sun.
Although this bright, striped green is popular in the southern states, it can survive anywhere. It grows in small tufts, likes moist soils and prefers full or partial sun.
You may not think of oregano as a ground cover, but this herb forms dense tufts of fragrant foliage. With full sun, this green grass will grow small flowers in summer, attracting many pollinators. Cut it for cooking or keep it cut to manage its height.
Directly from your grandmother’s garden, Dianthus is an old-fashioned perennial with a scent of vanilla. Sometimes called pink because the petals appear to have been cut with pinking shears, this pretty ground cover is available in a range of heights, ranging from low growth to 2 feet tall. It needs full sun to flower best.
Ferns come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Planted in groups, it makes a pretty ground cover. It prefers moist, drought-tolerant soil once established and needs full shade.
The small white flowers in the shape of a star offer a nice contrast to the deciduous green foliage. Although this perennial plant spreads quickly, you can mow it to regain control. Keep it in a shaded place, especially under trees and shrubs.
As the name suggests, the fuzzy silver leaves look like lambs ears. In mid-summer, however, they are dotted with beautiful purple-pink flowers. It likes full sun, but can tolerate partial shade.
Choose from an annual or perennial variety and watch charming daisy-like flowers bloom in this bushy plant. He likes full sun and requires regular adornments to prevent him from invading the yard. Fun bonus: flowers, fresh or dried, can be used in salads or dipped in teas.
The soft, mossy foliage of this plant forms a dense carpet under the foot. In spring, tiny white flowers add to its ethereal beauty. Although it prefers full sun, it needs regular humidity, especially during the hot months.
This fast growing annual looks magnificent falling on rock walls or along walkways. It quickly forms a thick mound and flowers throughout the summer, producing a sweet honey scent that attracts pollinators throughout the season. It flowers best in full sun.
Native to Siberia, this cold-hardy evergreen has fern-like foliage that takes on a pretty tan color in colder climates. Try to plant it in large groups on a hill or along the foundations of the house to avoid erosion. He likes the full sun.