Easy Groundcovers

Let easy-growing groundcovers be the solution to your landscaping problems. Here are some of the best groundcovers for your yard.

By Kelly D. Norris


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Thyme
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Thyme

    Enjoy the fresh smell of thyme underfoot in your garden. This easy-to-grow groundcover offers fragrant foliage and pink or white flowers in spring or summer.

    Name: Thymus serpyllum

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 10 inches tall

    Zones: 4-9

2/31
Sweet Woodruff

    Sweet woodruff is the perfect groundcover for adding fragrance to your backyard. When the leaves are crushed they smell like freshly mown hay. This is one plant that isn't prone to invasiveness and tends to form well-mannered clumps.

    Name: Galium odoratum

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and well-drained soil

    Size: To 12 inches tall

    Zones: 4-8

3/31
Brass Buttons

    Here's a great plant you probably haven't heard of. Brass buttons offers tiny, fine-textured foliage that's tinged black and button-shape, bronze-color flowers. Plus, it tolerates some degree of traffic, so you can walk on it.

    Name: Leptinella squalida 'Platt's Black'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 6 inches tall

    Zones: 4-7

4/31
Bishop's Weed

    Fast spreading bishop's weed will thrive where most other shade plants fail. Because it is so vigorous, it's best suited for shaded slopes or other areas where it has plenty of room to roam.

    Test Garden Tip: For extra interest, look for 'Variegata', which sports cream and white splashes on green foliage.

    Name: Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum'

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and well-drained soil

    Size: To 12 inches tall

    Zones: 4-9

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Ajuga

    In spring, ajuga bursts forth with spikes of blue, pink, or white flowers. The plants usually have great foliage, too: Several types are available, from the chocolate-purple foliage of 'Chocolate Chip' to the reddish-bronze foliage of 'Rubra'.

    Name: Ajuga reptans

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: 6 inches tall

    Zones: 3-9

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Lamium

    Lamium is an excellent, easy-care groundcover. Most types bloom through the summer, producing clusters of pink or white flowers. Even when they're not blooming, they have great silver-marked foliage that brightens up shady corners. What a beautiful alternative to a struggling lawn!

    Name: Lamium maculatum

    Growing Conditions: Full shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: 8 inches tall

    Zones: 4-8

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Golden Moneywort

    Golden moneywort is a superb choice for adding color to shade, thanks to its golden foliage. Also called creeping Jenny, this is a fast-spreading plant perfect for covering lots of ground.

    Name: Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and moist soil

    Size: 3 inches tall

    Zones: 3-7

8/31
Epimedium

    Dry shade can be a tough landscaping problem. Thankfully, epimedium thrives in these conditions. There are many to choose from, but varieties to look for include 'Pierre's Purple', 'Sulphureum', and 'Lilafee'.

    Name: Epimedium grandiflorum

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and well-drained soil

    Size: 8 inches tall

    Zones: 3-9

9/31
Lily-of-the-Valley

    Beautifully fragrant, lily-of-the-valley is one of the easiest groundcovers to grow. It's perfect in the shady spot off the patio or under the big tree in the backyard. Do watch it, though: It can be a vigorous spreader.

    Name: Convallaria majalis

    Growing Conditions: Shade and well-drained soil

    Size: 8 inches tall

    Zones: 3-8

10/31
Bunchberry

    Cute little white flowers cover the plants in spring. The real fun comes in autumn, when bright red fruits adorn the petite plants. The leaves also develop festive shades of bronzy-purple.

    Name: Chamaepericlymenum canadense (also commonly called Cornus canadensis)

    Growing Conditions: Full shade and well-drained soil

    Size: To 6 inches tall

    Zones: 2-7

11/31
Vinca

    Enjoy vinca's colorful blooms from spring through fall. The blue, purple, or white flowers provide a colorful accent to the shiny, green foliage. This easy, adaptable groundcover tolerates a wide range of soil conditions.

    Note: It can also grow very quickly -- to the point some gardeners call it invasive.

    Name: Vinca minor

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: 8 inches tall

    Zones: 4-9

12/31
Wild Ginger

    Wild ginger is prized for its glossy, heart-shape leaves and vigorous growth. While not invasive, it wastes no time forming a sizable colony in your landscape.

    Name: Asarum europaeum

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and well-drained soil

    Size: To 4 inches tall

    Zones: 4-8

13/31
Lady's Mantle

    This beautiful perennial offers a unique treat: Fine hairs on the leaves sparkle with water droplets and glisten in the early morning light. Lady's mantle blooms in early summer, too, producing clusters of chartreuse blooms.

    Name: Alchemilla mollis

    Growing Conditions: Sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 18 inches tall

    Zones: 4-7

14/31
Pachysandra

    Use pachysandra to cover deeply shaded ground. This plant offers rich, dark jade foliage and little clusters of white flowers. Pachysandra will take a few seasons to establish but once at home will thrive on neglect. Plant it and ignore it: The plant is about as low-maintenance as you get.

    Name: Pachysandra terminalis

    Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: 1 foot tall

    Zones: 4-8

15/31
Sedum

    Low-growing sedums may not produce the big bang of color like their taller cousins, but it's hard to go wrong with these ultra-low-maintenance groundcovers for sunny spots. This one provides golden blooms in summer.

    Name: Sedum acre

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 3 inches tall

    Zones: 4-9

16/31
Hens-and-Chicks

    A perfect companion for sedums, hens-and-chicks is an excellent succulent for the rock garden, stone wall, or crevice in the sidewalk. Hens-and-chicks is among the lowest-maintenance of groundcovers. Just plant and enjoy.

    Name: Sempervivum varieties

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 4 inches tall

    Zones: 3-9

17/31
Soapwort

    Soapworts are underappreciated plants. Many of them make fine groundcovers. 'Max Frei' is a low-growing, mat-forming selection that is highlighted with starry pink flowers in spring. It's an excellent choice for gardens because it tolerates summer's heat and humidity.

    Name: Saponaria x lempergii 'Max Frei'

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall

    Zones: 3-7

18/31
Showy Evening Primrose

    This heat-, drought-, and humidity-tolerant plant rewards you in midsummer with showy pink flowers. While it's easy growing, it does require some patience: It's one of the last groundcovers to emerge from the ground in early spring.

    Name: Oenothera speciosa

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 2 feet tall

    Zones: 5-9

19/31
Armeria

    A charming plant not seen enough in gardens, armeria offers low, grassy foliage and clusters of bright pink or white flowers in late spring and early summer. For extra interest, look for 'Rubrifolia', which offers burgundy-tinged foliage.

    Name: Armeria maritima

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 8 inches tall

    Zones: 3-9

20/31
Creeping Phlox

    Pink, white, purple, red, and bicolors with darker-colored eyes abound in spring on this perennial groundcover. Perfect for edging sidewalks and walkways, this slow-growing perennial likes full sun and well-drained soil. Creeping phlox won't become a rowdy neighbor to the tulips, daffodils, and other spring bulbs that look charming planted with it.

    Name: Phlox subulata

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 8 inches tall

    Zones: 3-9

21/31
Barren Strawberry

    Barren strawberries are native to eastern North America and are appreciated as garden plants for forming dense clumps with strawberry-like foliage and yellow flowers.

    Name: Waldsteinia fragarioides

    Growing Conditions: Part to full sun and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: 1 foot tall

    Zones: 4-8

22/31
Prostrate Veronica

    This is the groundcover version of the taller, well-known veronica. Its blue flowers are a dazzling contrast to the golden foliage of cultivars such as 'Trehane' and 'Goldwell'.

    Name: Veronica prostrata

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 1 foot tall

    Zones: 4-8

23/31
Bloody Cranesbill

    Bloody cranesbill is named for the bright red color the foliage takes on in fall. Many varieties are available in flower colors of blue and purple. The plant spreads slowly but will eventually form broad swaths in full or part sun or shade. It's not only beautiful, but easy and carefree, too.

    Name: Geranium sanguineum

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and well-drained soil

    Size: 1 foot tall

    Zones: 4-8

24/31
Japanese Forestgrass

    Ornamental grasses are a beautiful way to add texture to the landscape. Low-growing forms are great groundcovers -- and Japanese forestgrass is one of the best. It comes in glowing shades of gold and chartreuse, and forms flowing mounds that hug the ground.

    Name: Hakonechloa macra

    Growing Conditions: Full to part sun, moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 2 feet tall

    Zones: 5-9

25/31
Leadplant

    Leadplant is an ideal groundcover if you want to put on a late-season show. It begins in late summer with beautiful, electric-blue flowers. Then in fall, the leaves turn a gorgeous shade of burgundy red.

    Name: Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

    Growing Conditions: Sun or shade and well-drained soil.

    Size: To 12 inches tall

    Zones: 5-9

26/31
Mondo Grass

    A favorite of Southern gardeners, especially the intriguing purple-leaf variety. Though it looks like a dwarf grass and bears the moniker it does, mondo grass is actually more closely related to lilies.

    Name: Ophiopogon japonicus

    Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: To 24 inches tall, depending on variety

    Zones: 6-10

27/31
Snow-in-Summer

    Billowing mounds of crystalline white flowers float over snow-in-summer's silvery foliage. It makes a delightful accent to a stone wall, patio, or garden border. Snow-in-summer is able to handle a range of soil types as well.

    Name: Cerastium tomentosum

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: 3 inches tall

    Zones: 3-7

28/31
Lamb's Ears

    Kids love the fuzzy leaves of this old-fashioned, classic perennial. Soft and silvery, lamb's ear forms comfortable, low-growing mounds. Equally fuzzy spikes of purple to pink flowers add interest in summer. Good cultivars to watch for include 'Cotton Ball', 'Big Ears', and 'Primrose Heron'.

    Name: Stachys byzantina

    Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

    Size: To 18 inches tall

    Zones: 4-7

29/31
Crested Iris

    Crested iris, sometimes known as woodland iris, is a native of eastern North America and can be found in variety of forms and patterns in blue and white. Once established, they are carefree, cheery groundcovers for the woodland garden.

    Name: Iris cristata

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil

    Size: 9 inches tall

    Zones: 3-9

30/31
Creeping Buttercup

    Here's a buttercup that no gardener should be without. 'Buttered Popcorn' offers bright, chartreuse-splattered foliage that's truly electric in the shade garden. While the foliage is the main attraction, creeping buttercup also offers golden flowers in late spring and early summer.

    Name: Ranunculus repens

    Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and well-drained soil

    Size: 3 inches tall

    Zones: 4-9

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