If you have a large yard and do not want to deal with the hassle of mowing the entire thing every week, consider adding some ground cover plants. Ground cover plants typically spread quickly and grow low to the ground. Many varieties even produce colorful, fragrant flowers that will enhance the appearance of your yard without you having to do any additional maintenance. Below you will find a list of recommended ground cover plants as well as some tips for each type.
Drought-Tolerant Ground Cover
The plants in this category tend to do well in particularly dry climates and they will not be adversely affected if the season gets little rain. Some great drought-tolerant forms of ground cover include thyme, sedum, and hens and chicks.
- Thyme Although typically known for being a herb, thyme actually makes a great ground cover plant because it stays low to the ground and spreads quickly. This herb is a woody plant that produces tiny, fragrant flowers and leaves and it can be used in beds, borders or containers. Certain types of thyme, such as creeping varieties, can also stand up to moderate foot traffic so they are a good choice for planting between stepping stones in a garden path. Thyme prefers full sunlight and well-drained soil.
- Sedum There are several creeping types of sedum that make excellent ground cover, forming dense mats less than 3 inches tall. This plant produces thick, succulent leaves that store water to enable the plant to withstand dry conditions. When they are in bloom, sedum displays a variety of colors including red, orange, yellow, purple and white. This plant does best in full sunlight or partial shade in well-drained soil.
- Hens and Chicks This particular type of ground cover is recommended for tight spaces try using it in between paving stones on your patio. Hens and chicks provides texture for the garden, producing tiny rosettes that grow 3 to 6 inches tall. This plant is very hardy and requires virtually no maintenance.
Ground Cover for Shade
If a large portion of your yard is shaded, you may have trouble growing grass there. As an alternative, consider using one of these shade-friendly ground cover plants. Good options include sweet woodruff, bishops weed and ajuga.
- Sweet Woodruff This ground cover plant is ideal for spaces below trees and shrubs where there is very little sunlight. Sweet woodruff produces tiny white flowers that bloom in early spring with crab apple trees. This plant grows only 6 to 12 inches tall, forming clumps of green foliage and flowers on upright stems.
- Bishops Weed This plant is known for spreading very quickly. Ideal for fully shaded or partially shaded areas, particularly slopes, Bishops Weed grows up to 12 inches tall and drops its leaves each winter. Use this plant in very large areas or, for smaller areas, choose the variegated type.
- Ajuga This plant is particularly recommended for shaded areas where grass will not grow. Ajuga produces spiky flowers in blue, pink and lavender and the plant itself can stand up to moderate foot traffic. The leaves of this plant are also very attractive, displaying shades of green, purple, maroon, bronze and white. Ajuga grows between 4 and 9 inches tall, depending on the variety.
Flowering Ground Cover Plants
If you want to add a bit of color to your landscaping, a flowering ground cover plant is a great option. Some of the best flowering ground cover plants include dianthus, mazus and blue star creeper.
- Dianthus There are many different types of dianthus, but most prefer full sun and well-drained soil. This plant is known for its colorful flowers (coming in pink, red, and white) which produce a fragrant, spicy scent. The dianthus plant itself grows between 2 inches and 3 feet in height, depending on the variety, so be sure to choose a low-growing variety if you are using it for ground cover. Dianthus plants should be spaced 12 to 18 inches apart to allow them to spread.
- Mazus This plant is a mat-forming perennial that produces rosettes of tooth-shaped leaves and small purple-blue flowers. Mazus grows no more than 6 inches tall and has a spread of 6 to 12 inches. These plants prefer full sun to partial shade and they require moist but well-drained soil. Mazus is ideal for covering large patches of soil because it spreads quickly, though it can also be used to fill the spaces between stepping stones.
- Blue Star Creeper This flowering ground cover plant does well in either full sun or partial shade and it only grows 1 to 2 inches tall. Each plant has a spread of about 18 inches, however, which makes it the perfect ornamental ground cover for gardens and even larger areas of landscaping. Blue star creeper is an evergreen plant, forming mats of tiny green leaves and light blue flowers that bloom from late spring into the early fall.
Hopefully after reading this article you have some idea what type of ground cover plant would be right for your landscaping needs. As you can see, there are many different options to choose from the options discussed here are only a small sampling of those available.