How to Choose Ground Cover Plants

Planted en masse, ground cover plants can be used in your yard to meet a variety of purposes. Most ground cover plants are perennials, meaning they come back year after year. They are generally easy to maintain after they have been established and knowing how to choose ground cover plants that will work in your yard will allow you a welcomed option when designing your landscape.


  1. Image titled Choose Ground Cover Plants Step 1
    Decide where you want to position ground cover plants in your yard.
    • Stop erosion on hillsides and alongside streams or ditches by planting ground cover where soil tends to wear away. Because of their complex root system, these plants will hold soil in place while providing attractive color and interesting texture to your landscape.
    • Decide if your ground cover should be spreading or non-spreading. If you want a large area covered, you will want a quick-growing, spreading variety of ground cover.
    • Plant ground cover plants in areas where grass won't easily grow or where you want to replace grass with something easier to maintain. You won't have to mow and the need to water will be much less.
    • Use ground cover to define spaces in your garden. Areas of ground cover create pools of interest. Slow-growing ground covers can be used as hedging and add softness to hardscape areas like driveways and sidewalks.
  2. Image titled Choose Ground Cover Plants Step 2
    Select the kind of ground cover plant you've determined you need or want to add to your landscape.
    • Determine if you want a taller grass-like ground cover, a small shrub, or a low growing ivy.
    • Consider the area where you are planting the ground cover, whether it gets full sun, partial sun, or daylong shade. Purchase the right variety of ground cover depending upon where it would grow best.
  3. Image titled Choose Ground Cover Plants Step 3
    Investigate different varieties of ground cover to determine whether you want something colorful, more functional, or both.
    • Liriope is a grass-like ground cover often used as a border plant. Small white or purple flowers grow from the center in the summer. Mondo grass is another grassy ground cover you might choose.
    • Ivy plants of many kinds might work best for you as a ground cover. There are many types from which to choose. Since ivy spreads and climbs easily, make sure you can prune it to keep it from becoming invasive.
    • Some vincas, a low growing ground cover, have green and white leaves which will add interest to your landscape. In addition, some vincas have blue or purple blooms.
    • Mosses will grow well in deeply shaded places on your property. Different types and colors of moss planted together adds interest and color to an otherwise bleak spot in your landscape.
    • Pick an evergreen variety of ground cover if you don't want it dying back in the winter. A trailing juniper might be a good choice for an evergreen ground cover.
    • Fill spaces between stepping stones with low growing ground covers. Choose a sedum or a dwarf mondo grass. Herbs such as thyme make good ground covers to use between steps or along pathways. They also add fragrance each time you step.
  4. Image titled Choose Ground Cover Plants Step 4
    Treat ground covers as you would any other plant when you first establish it. Clear the area where you want to plant the ground cover of any weeds and other plants you no longer want in the area. Be sure the soil is healthy and add mulch to keep the plants from drying out.
  5. Image titled Choose Ground Cover Plants Step 5
    Determine how many plants you will need in order to cover the desired area. Speak to someone at your local garden center or plant nursery if you have questions.

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Categories: Gardening | Landscaping and Outdoor Building