7 Easy Drought-Tolerant Ground Covers

Yellow alyssum flowers in drought tolerant garden

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Turf grass, or zoysia, does not grow very well in dry soil, but most types of weeds do not have this problem. Regrettably, weeds will quickly invade a bare patch and take it over. To prevent weed spread and enjoy an attractive covering of greenery, try an easy-to-grow drought-tolerant ground cover.

These 7 perennial plants offer an alternative to bare ground or weeds. The suggested plants and simple growing tips will help you get started with a drought-tolerant ground cover that suits your surroundings.

  • 01 of 07

    Angelina Sedum

    close-up succulent Angelina sedum

    Satakorn/Getty Images

    'Angelina sedum' or "stonecrop" is a flowering ground cover. In this case, however, the blossoms take a backseat to the foliage. Gardeners value this sedum as a low-growing plant with chartreuse foliage. As a bonus, this perennial drought-tolerant ground cover spreads quickly, effectively filling in your problem area, with a little help from you (in the form of laying down mulch). Like many succulents, it will root where its leaves come into contact with the soil, permitting it to multiply.

  • 02 of 07

    Yellow Alyssum

    Yellow alyssum flowers in sunlight closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    You are probably familiar with sweet alyssum, which is treated as an annual plant in the North. It is very popular in the U.S. as the white element in July 4th plantings, where a red-white-and-blue color scheme is called for. But in this entry, we are talking about a different kind of alyssum.

    Yellow alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis) is a hardy perennial. Like 'Angelina' sedum, it sports attractive leaves: in this case, leaves of a blue-gray or gray-green color. But unlike 'Angelina,' A. saxatilis is grown more for the display created by its flowers. It looks especially nice tumbling over stone walls.​

  • 03 of 07

    Ice Plant

    close-up of purple ice plant

    Sergi Escribano/Getty Images

    Pictured here is purple ice plant (Delosperma cooperi). Like 'Angelina' sedum, this plant is a hardy perennial. Also like 'Angelina' sedum, this plant has succulent leaves and is suitable for xeriscaping.

    Not only is this a drought-tolerant ground cover, but also it positively does not like for its roots to be sitting in moisture. For that reason, ice plant can be challenging for someone experimenting with it for the first time. So unlike the other plants listed here, one would not classify this plant as easy to grow.

    Still, its flowers are gorgeous, so why not give it a try? Its unusual foliage (the look of which gives it its common plant name) is moderately attractive, as well.

  • 04 of 07


    candytuft flower

     Alexander Ludwig/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Candytuft may be the ultimate perennial, hands down, especially among those who love intensely white flowers. Unlike the other plants featured here, though, it does not bear attractive leaves. No, it is all about the flowers with candytuft. But oh, what flowers! Not only are they breathtaking when massed together, but also each individual bloom will merit close study if you enjoy intricate patterns.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Vinca Minor

    Vinca minor flowers with small purple petals on perennial drought-tolerant vines and rock

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    With Vinca minor, we come to a plant that is somewhat problematic. That is because this viney plant, which features glossy leaves and blue flowers, and which is often grown in shade-covered areas, has made many a list of invasive plants for North America.

    The fact that some drought-tolerant ground covers are at least mildly invasive should not surprise us very much. After all, plants such as V. minor and Japanese pachysandra need to be tough to survive in dry soils. And they do not turn that toughness on and off to please us. A tough plant will, in many cases, out-compete its competition for available resources, including water. Another example that is tempting to plant but definitely invasive is lily-of-the-valley, famous for its great-smelling blooms that resemble little bells.

    You will have to make up your own mind as to whether you wish to grow plants such as V. minor. Using this background about the plant, you can make an informed decision.

  • 06 of 07

    Bugleweed or Ajuga

    blooming bugleweed or ajuga

    tang90246/Getty Images 

    Bugleweed (Ajuga) is another invasive plant. It is more difficult to control than V. minor, so this article is certainly not urging you to grow it. You likely will grow tired of pulling it out of places where it does not belong in your landscaping, frankly.

    Nonetheless, some folks might consider growing this drought-tolerant ground cover under certain conditions. Its proponents point to its spiky flowers and (in the case of some cultivars) attractive leaves as selling points, although anyone who has had to battle this aggressive plant for years would be unlikely to be among those "sold" on bugleweed.

  • 07 of 07

    Chinese Lantern Plants

    close-up of chinese lantern plant

    keithsutherland/Getty Images


    Chinese lantern is another invasive plant, but it is included here because so many folks are interested in this novelty. As with other aggressive plants, if you feel you truly must grow it, there are ways to contain it. You will need to consider how to contain Chinese lanterns so that they work for your garden.