Groundcovers For Every Yard

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Groundcovers are perfect for those areas that are difficult to landscape or as a substitute for a grass lawn. Groundcovers can solve a variety of gardening dilemmas, are easy to maintain and make an attractive addition to any landscape design. Here are some ways groundcovers can enhance any yard.

Drought-Tolerant Groundcovers

Dry climate gardens may have areas of bare soil or rock that are difficult to plant. Here are a few suggestions for groundcovers that require little water and can fill an area with color and texture:

  • Trailing Acacia (Acacia redolens) grows to 1 foot tall and can spread across an area 10 feet wide. Plant in full sun on a bank to provide erosion control. An evergreen plant that has yellow blooms in the early spring.
  • Ice Plant (Cephalophyllum) blooms from winter to early spring. It grows to 6 inches high and spreads 6 inches. Plant between rocks.
  • Trailing Gazania (Gazania rigens) is a low growing (under 1 foot) trailing evergreen with orange daisy-like flowers.
  • Lantana grows to 2 feet tall and forms a 3 foot wide mound. It produces flowers all year long and enjoys full sun.

Groundcovers for Warmer Climates

A challenge for warm climate areas is selecting a groundcover that will survive a hot summer but is hardy enough to withstand colder temperatures during the winter. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Bugleweed (Ajuga repens) is a very short groundcover that enjoys partial shade and produces blue flower spikes in the spring.
  • Creeping Thyme (Thymus serphyllum) can be grown in full sun and can be planted between stepping stones.
  • Mondograss (Ophiopogon japonicus), and especially dwarf mondograss, gives a grass like appearance in partially shaded areas.
  • Virginia Chain Fern (Woodwardia virginica) grows best in wet and shady areas.

Groundcovers for Cold Climates

Groundcovers in Midwestern cold climates consist of herbaceous, woody and evergreen plants. Here are some cold hardy plants that work well in a variety of locations:

  • Sedges (Carex spp.) can be planted in shady and moist areas.
  • Violets (Viola spp.) add a pop of color to a shady area.
  • Crown vetch (Coronilla varia) can be planted in areas that receive full sun and have poor soil.
  • Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) prefers partial to full shade. It forms a mass of upright leaves and produces fragrant flowers.
  • Hosta has decorative foliage that grows in clumps and in shade.
  • Common Periwinkle (Vinca minor) grows in deep shade or full sun. It has a trailing growth habit.

Groundcovers for Full Sun

Open areas require plants that can tolerate full sun conditions. These plants must sometimes be able to withstand blazing sun and harsh winds. Here are a few plants that thrive in full sun:

  • Aloe does double duty as a landscape plant and as a medicinal plant. Use in rock gardens or other areas where its tall flower spike can be shown off.
  • Perennial Peanut (Arachis pintoi) is a nitrogen fixing groundcover that can be planted in acidic sandy soils. The plant produces tubular yellow flowers.
  • Natal Plum (Carissa macrocarpa) forms a large mound with glossy leaves and spiney stems. Produces white flowers in the summer.

Groundcovers for Deep Shade

There are many groundcovers that will grow well in shaded areas. Some of these plants will even produce colorful flowers. Here are a few ideas:

  • English Ivy prefers deep shade and will cover a large area. There are many varieties with numerous leaf shapes and colors. Trim back the plant once a year to keep it from growing up tree trunks.
  • Ferns provide a contrast in the garden. Look for ferns that are native to your local area.
  • Here are a few flowering plants for shade gardens: impatiens, begonias, caladiums, coleus, phlox, violets and narcissus.

There is a groundcover to fill most any landscaping need. Browse through your local garden center or visit the website of your local Extension Office to find groundcovers that are perfect for your garden.

Last Updated: November 4, 2012
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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