16 Spreading Plants for Paved Areas

Close up picture of blue star creeper (Isotoma fluviatilis) light blue flowers.

David Stang / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0​

 

Spreading ground cover-type perennial plants have a trio of uses. They can serve as living mulch in flower beds. They can be planted as lawn alternatives or be mixed in with grasses. And they work especially well to fill in cracks and spaces in paving. Such plants as sedum and creeping thyme are favorites between pavers, bricks, and stones because they can handle some light foot traffic and neglect. Once these plants are established, they generally require very little maintenance to continue to grow and spread.

Here are 16 plants that are ideal for paved areas.

  • 01 of 16

    Dwarf Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Valfredda')

    Ajuga
    gyro / Getty Images

    Depending on the gardener, bugleweed is either viewed as a ground cover or a weed. The dwarf cultivar is a bit better behaved than its parent species. But it is still an enthusiastic grower, so don't put it where it can't sprawl. Dwarf bugleweed features chocolate foliage and blue-purple blooms in the late spring. It forms a mat that's only around 3 to 6 inches tall with a 12- to 18-foot spread. This plant is suitable for occasional foot traffic and should be pruned after flowering to keep it tidy.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Blue-purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 02 of 16

    Mount Atlas Daisy (Anacyclus 'Silver Kisses')

    Anacyclus pyrethrum
    emer1940 / Getty Images

    Growing to about 6 inches tall with a 12- to 18-foot spread, the Mount Atlas daisy features fern-like, silvery gray foliage. Its showy white-and-yellow flowers bloom in the late spring and early summer. The flowers need full sun, closing in the evening and even on cloudy days. It's not a long-lived perennial, but it will generally self-seed and keep growing once established. This plant can handle occasional foot traffic. Water it if the soil starts to dry out, and use an all-purpose fertilizer before growth starts in the spring.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White with a yellow center
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, slightly alkaline, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 03 of 16

    Rupturewort (Herniaria glabra)

    Herniaria glabra (Rupturewort, Green Carpet)
    STEPABLES

    Low-growing rupturewort is known as green carpet in the landscaping business because of its ability to spread and cover. One plant can easily spread out to 2 feet. Plus, because rupturewort has a deep tap root, it is extremely drought tolerant. The foliage remains attractive year-round, turning a bronzed red in the winter. The plant works in areas with heavy foot traffic. It's very low-maintenance, only requiring pruning if you need to clean up its shape.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 04 of 16

    Blue Star Creeper (Isotoma fluviatilis 'Blue Star Creeper')

    Laurentia
    Stefano / Flickr / CC By 2.0

    Blue star creeper is easy to grow and extremely versatile and rugged. You can use it around pools, in the garden, on pavers, and even in pots. It can also be a lawn substitute. A great feature of blue star creeper is it remains in bloom pretty much all season until frost. In warm climates, it can stay evergreen all year. However, give it some afternoon shade during hot summers. Also, make sure you keep the soil consistently moist. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Pale blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, evenly moist, well-draining
    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    New Zealand Brass Buttons (​Leptinella squalida)

    Cotula leptinella potentillina green plant with yellow flowers background
    skymoon13 / Getty Images

    New Zealand brass buttons looks attractive, doesn't draw in a lot of bees, and feels nice under your feet. It's suitable for moderate foot traffic and can be used as a lawn substitute and as edging. Its fern-like foliage resembles small yellowish buttons that turn a bronzed red in the fall. This plant typically doesn't require pruning, but it does appreciate some shade during hot weather.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 06 of 16

    Double Bird's Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus 'Pleniflorus')

    Bird's Foot Trefoil, yellow flowers
    Flottmynd / Getty Images

    Double bird's foot trefoil​ is the double-flowered form of bird's foot trefoil. It adds texture and color in the tightest spots. Small orange buds open into pea-like yellow flowers and dot this mat-forming spreader in the early summer. This plant is a good choice as a lawn substitute and can tolerate moderate foot traffic. It's very adaptable to sunny spots, poor soil, and even clay soil. Mowing also doesn't bother it.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Yellow
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 07 of 16

    Creeping Mazus (Mazus reptans 'Purple')

    Mazus reptans 'Purple'
    STEPABLES

    Creeping mazus is a tiny plant, reaching only around 2 inches tall. But what it lacks in height, it makes up for in spread, forming a dense mat that reaches around a foot. In the late spring, it's covered with blue-violet flowers that look like small snapdragon blossoms. When the flowers fade, the foliage still looks attractive. Because it's such a tiny plant, it's less aggressive and invasive than many other creeping perennials. Water regularly while it's getting established, and then back off to watering only when the soil starts to dry out.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Blue-violet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-draining
  • 08 of 16

    Creeping Wire Vine (Muehlenbeckia axillaris)

    Muehlenbeckia axillaries (Creeping Wire Vine)
    STEPABLES

    On its own, creeping wire vine isn't much to look at. But it can bring interesting texture to a rock garden. The tiny, round leaves are a nice glossy green. They turn bronze toward winter and sometimes in extreme heat. The plant is a fast spreader and is useful on slopes that need a quick cover. Mowing once a year in the spring will refresh and thicken your plant. Creeping wire vine is tolerant of poor soil and drought once established. Provide it with some afternoon shade in hot climates. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 10
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Scotch Moss (Sagina subulata 'Aurea')

    Scotch moss
    Mark Turner / Getty Images

    Scotch moss favors clay soil and has a yellow tint to its foliage. In the spring, it sprouts tiny, star-shaped white flowers. This plant can be evergreen in warm climates, where it also appreciates a bit more shade. Otherwise, it becomes unattractive until fall. It dislikes both drought and sitting in soggy soil, so make sure you're watering adequately. 

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 10 of 16

    Irish Moss (Sagina subulata)

    Sagina subulata (Irish Moss)
    STEPABLES

    Irish moss looks like a scratchy sponge but feels much softer. This moss also features tiny, star-shaped white flowers in the spring. The plant spreads rapidly to form a carpet that looks especially nice against gray stone. Like Scotch moss, it can be evergreen in warm climates, where it also appreciates some shade or else it becomes unattractive until fall. In addition, Irish moss dislikes drought and soggy soil, so a watering schedule to maintain a moderate moisture level is key.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 11 of 16

    Caucasian Stonecrop (Sedum spurium 'John Creech')

    Caucasian Stonecrop
    Yulia-B / Getty Images

    Spreading, low-growing sedums, such as Caucasian stonecrop, are standards in rock gardens. They spill over the stones and seem to require no care whatsoever. Sedums form tight mats that usually don't get taller than 6 inches, and they reach that height only when in bloom. They're capable of rooting along their stems wherever they make contact with the ground. Caucasian stonecrop tends to form a very dense mat and doesn't mind poor soil. But make sure it has good drainage because it doesn't like wet soil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, acidic, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 12 of 16

    White Diamond Stonecrop (Sedum pachyclados 'White Diamond')

    Sedum pachyclados gray stonecrop green plant on ground
    skymoon13 / Getty Images

    White diamond stonecrop has rich blue foliage that forms a carpet with tight, ground-hugging rosettes. It's called white diamond because when a drop of water lands on a leaf, it catches the light like a diamond. It does have small, white, star-shaped flowers in the summer, but it's the foliage that really shines here. This plant is fairly low-maintenance and drought tolerant, requiring little care from the gardener.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    Creeping Thyme (Thymus praecox 'Elfin')

    wild thyme flowers
    hsvrs/Getty Images

    All of the thyme varieties are relatively low-growing creepers, but many seem to die out quickly. However, creeping thyme remains attractive, with soft gray-green foliage that forms a slow-spreading, tightly matted mound. This is a perfect plant for between pavers, and if you have the patience it makes a nice lawn alternative. The lavender-pink flowers bloom in early summer and attract bees and butterflies. It usually doesn't require watering unless you're going through a prolonged dry spell.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Lavender-pink
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 14 of 16

    Bronze Dutch Clover (Trifolium repens 'Atropurpureum')

    full frame image of bronze dutch clover covered by water drops background
    LightFieldStudios / Getty Images

    Looking for a lucky four-leaf clover? Bronze Dutch clover, also known as white clover and black shamrock, can give you a carpet of them. The dark reddish leaves are edged in green and accented with white clover flowers in the summer. This plant looks good as edging, between pavers, and even in pots. It's also useful for erosion control on slopes. Once established, it requires little maintenance apart from watering if the soil dries out.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
  • 15 of 16

    Golden Creeping Speedwell (Veronica repens 'Sunshine')

    Veronica repens 'Sunshine' (Golden Creeping Speedwell)
    STEPABLES

    There are plenty of gorgeous creeping Veronicas, but golden creeping speedwell stands out for its color. Its white flowers are nearly as eye-catching as its golden foliage. Veronicas are alpine plants, and they don't really like being used as lawn alternatives. Tuck them somewhere where their roots are kept cool, such as between pavers or in rock gardens or troughs. Veronicas are deciduous, meaning they'll drop their leaves in the fall. You'll need to clean out the fallen leaves, so the new growth in spring isn't smothered.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
  • 16 of 16

    'Purpurea' Viola (Viola riviniana 'Purpurea')

    Viola riviniana Common Dog Voilet
    Carole Gomez / Getty Images

    The dark leaves of the 'Purpurea' viola are the perfect foil for its lilac-purple flowers that can bloom for months if the temperatures don't climb. These plants appreciate moist soil and shade in the heat of summer. They don't spread quickly, but they will self-seed. They can't take much foot traffic, but they do work well to fill in gaps in rock gardens. Make sure you're watering regularly to prevent the soil from drying out. But don't overwater, as these plants dislike soggy soil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: Purple
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-draining