9 Places in Your Garden for Ground Covers

Ground covers are versatile: they fill in those stubborn areas in your yard where nothing else will grow, require little maintenance, and can live for years.

The ground covers that will perform best are those you'll find in local nurseries and see growth in your region—they have adapted to the soil, irrigation, sunlight, and natural resources available. Plant them, give them what they need, and they'll do what they're supposed to, without much coaxing.

That versatility spreads even further than you may realize—check out some not-so-obvious spots where a ground cover may be the answer to your as-yet-unresolved gardening issue.

  • 01 of 09

    Shady Spots

    Beautiful shade-loving ground covers

    Patrick Standish / Flickr

    Those areas of your yard where the sun rarely shines, like under trees or decks, in side yards, or under eaves, may start to come alive when shade-loving ground covers are planted. Good ones to try include:

    • Bugleweed: Ajuga reptans
    • Baby's tears: Soleirolia soleirolii
    • Bronze Dutch clover: Trifolium repens 'Atropurpureum'
    • Creeping Cinquefoil Potentilla verna var. nana
    • Irish moss: Sagina subulata
    • Redwood sorrel: Oxalis oregana
    • Himalayan sweet box: Sarcococca hookeriana
    • Scotch moss: Sagina subulata 'Aurea'
    • Sweet woodruff: Galium odoratum
  • 02 of 09

    Sunny Spots

    orange african daisies

    Chris Cody / Flickr

    If you can't get anything to grow a sunny spot, consider a ground cover. Better yet, plant something that is drought tolerant, which will make it even easier to maintain.

    Heat and drought-tolerant ground covers to try include:

    • African daisy: Osteospermum
    • Carmel creeper: Ceanothus griseus horizontalis
    • Ice plant: Delosperma
    • Lantana
    • Stonecrop: Sedum
    • Sunrose:  Aptenia cordifolia
  • 03 of 09


    rosemary in garden
    Adam Drobiec / EyeEm/Getty Images

    Ground covers are a smart choice for slopes. Choose types that form dense, strong roots, which will help with controlling erosion.

    Slope-friendly ground covers to try:

    • Bearberry cotoneaster: Cotoneaster dammeri
    • Cape honeysuckle: Tecoma capensis
    • Carmel creeper: Ceanothus griseus horizontalis
    • Periwinkle: Vinca
    • Rosemary: Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus'
  • 04 of 09

    Fire Protection: Reduced Fuel Zone

    A white star jasmine shrub

    Herry Lawford / Flickr

    Growing a ground cover for the purpose of fuel reduction is often something that is not considered, but definitely should be worked into the gardens of everyone who lives in an area that is prone to wildfire. In highly populated regions of the western United States and Australia, that is lots of gardens that could have defensible space.

    Ground covers for firescaping include:

    • Carmel creeper: Ceanothus griseus horizontalis
    • Creeping cotoneaster: Cotoneaster adpressus
    • Desert verbena: Verbena gooddingii
    • Gazania: Gazania rigens
    • Rock contoneaster: Cotoneaster horizontalis
    • Stonecrop: Sedum
    • Star jasmine: Trachelospermum jasminoides
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    In a High-Traffic Area

    creeping thyme

    Gerald Klingaman / Flickr

    While ground covers make excellent replacements for the classic green lawn, they can't tolerate the amount or degree of traffic as turfgrass would for sports and activities. But, really--how often do you use that patch of grass for a game of soccer. 

    Still, there may be areas of your property that need a ground cover that can withstand a certain amount of traffic. Try these:

    • Baby's tears: Soleirolia soleirolii
    • Blue star creeper: Isotoma fluviatilis
    • Creeping thyme:Thymus serpyllum
    • Pussytoes: Antennaria plantaginifolia
    • Roman Chamomile: Chamaemelum nobile
  • 06 of 09

    Where Weeds Grow

    Butterflies with pink autumn joy sedum
    Neil Holmes/Getty Images

    The goal in areas with a high concentration of weeds is to plant something that will overtake and choke out those persistent weeds. Hopefully, the ground cover will cut down on your time spent battling the weeds and eventually create a smooth carpet.

    Types of ground covers in your area to look for are those that are hardy and grow thickly in most soil conditions.

    Good ones to try include:

    • Creeping Jenny: Lysimachia nummularia
    • Creeping phlox: Phlox stolonifera or P. subulata
    • Creeping thyme: Thymus serpyllum
    • Sedum: 'Dragon's Blood', 'Red Carpet'
  • 07 of 09

    To Soften Walls

    Winecups growing on low wall

    Patrick Standish / Flickr

    Not every wall is beautiful on its own, and some cry for something to soften them or even disguise them.

    • Purple rock cress: Aubrieta deltoidea
    • Bellflower: Campanula
    • Snow in summer: Cerastium tomentosum
    • St. Patrick's cabbage, whimsey, prattling parnell, and look up and kiss me: Saxifraga umbrosa
    • Periwinkle: Vinca
    • Winecup; poppy mallow: Callirhoe involucrata
  • 08 of 09

    For Fragrance Where People Gather

    sweet violets

    Amanda Slater / Flickr

    Planting vines and shrubs with scented blossoms makes sense in areas where people gather—it heightens the pleasure of the outdoor experience, whether it's dining, sitting by a fire, or just talking.

    For added sensory enjoyment, plant ground covers near gathering spots that emit a lovely fragrance when crushed or stepped on. Why not try:

    • Corsican mint: Mentha requienii
    • Creeping thyme 'Pink Ripple': has a lemon scent
    • Dianthus: 'Neon Star', 'Firewitch', and 'Bath's Pink' are especially fragrant
    • Roses: ground cover varieties include 'Blossom Blanket', 'Yellow Ribbons', and 'Party Dress'
    • Rosemary: Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus'
    • Star jasmine: Trachelospermum jasminoides
    • Sweet violet: Viola odorata
    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Between Pavers

    Blue star creeper between pavers

    libraryrachel / Flickr

    If weeds grow between pavers, or you can't get the gravel to stay put, why not plant a creeping ground cover?

    Good ones for paths and pavers include:

    • Blue star creeper: Isotoma fluviatilis
    • Creeping thyme: Thymus serpyllum
    • Creeping wire vine: Muehlenbeckia axillaris
    • Dymondia
    • Mondo grass: Ophiopogon japonicus