Covering Ground

Ever-spreading horizontal forms of evergreen, deciduous shrubs and perennials cover a lot of ground.


Enlarge Image Use groundcovers to accent a stone path in your yard.

Growing out instead of up, groundcovers add a powerful and purposeful punch to the landscape. They prevent soil erosion, control weeds, define pathways, soften and hide foundations, fill in garden voids, and visually link house, patio, and walk to lawn and garden. The finishing touch for well-groomed gardens and yards, groundcovers fashion panoramas literally spilling over with form, texture, and color. Hundreds of groundcover varieties, chosen for foliage, flowers, or both, flourish in a wide range of planting sites, from sun-baked spots to heavy-shade havens.

Enlarge Image Snow-in-summer Cerastium tomentosum

Give them a place in the sun and these multipurpose, low-maintenance groundcovers get moving, happily (and in some cases, speedily) threading their way through borders and beds and down hard-to-mow slopes and banks. Massed along walkways, sun-loving groundcovers direct traffic. Planted around shrubs and roses or intermingled with spring bulbs, they act as camouflage, hiding leggy branches or fading foliage. Consider height, bloom time, foliage color, and cultivation needs when choosing groundcovers. Built-for-speed groundcovers are good for large areas such as slopes and banks but may be too aggressive to include in beds and borders; do some research to choose which groundcovers to add to established beds. Download the Sun Worshipers chart for helpful information. Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software.

Sun Worshipers chart

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Enlarge Image European wild ginger Asarum europaeum

Flourishing under trees and shrubs, along north-facing foundations, and in woodland gardens, these groundcovers are essential elements for landscaping shady areas. They perk up areas where other plants or turf grasses refuse to grow. Ideally suited for creating shades of green around tree trunks, for carpeting the earthen floor below towering pines, or for filling in hosta and fern borders, these groundcovers are all quick growers that require very little care after becoming established. For shady borders, mix evergreen with deciduous groundcovers to extend the show after the deciduous plants lose their leaves and impact come frost. Blend plants with solid green foliage with those that have colored foliage, such as carpet bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) or yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon). Download the Shade Lovers chart for helpful information. Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software.

Shade Lovers chart

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Garden Groundcovers
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