Ground Cover Plants to Improve the Look of Your Yard

By Melissa Ozawa and Rebekah Lowin for Country Living©

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS/ROBIN_OTTAWA

Looking to upgrade your flower beds, front yard, or footpaths with some new landscaping ideas this season? Then we suggest considering an oft-used, but occasionally overlooked greenery: ground cover plants! This category consists of a variety of low-growing low-maintenance perennials. Why use ground cover plants? They’re great for adding color, preventing weeds, and avoiding soil erosion—and many plants are good choices for both sunny areas and darker spots (we’ve got tons of ideas for shade perennials here as well). We’ve also made sure to include options for light, moderate, and heavily trafficked areas of your yard. After all, there are few things more disheartening than coming up with a few genius backyard ideas—only to watch them get trampled on by your guests as they innocently traipse through your garden.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener looking for a few hardy plants that’ll make it all the way through the winter months or are a novice still trying to understand annuals vs. perennials, you’re in the right place. Our picks are comprehensive, thoughtful, and most of all beautiful—and each of these ground cover plants are proven winners for small backyards and English gardens alike. Just don’t forget to check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map before adding any of these plants to your outdoor space.

P.S. While you’re knee-deep in the flowerbed, take a moment to check out our list of the best perennial flowers too—it’s sure to provide even more inspiration.

1 Flowering Thyme

ground cover plants flowering thyme

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“For a perennial garden, flowering thyme is such a nice addition because it’s both ornamental and edible,” says Tara Nolan, author of Gardening Your Front Yard. “Plus, even in the winter—assuming it’s not covered in snow—you can grab a few sprigs of thyme to enjoy in your kitchen.” Perhaps in a fancy lemonade!

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9

2 Alyssum

alyssum ground cover plants

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White alyssum is a great way to fill in the areas of your garden that aren’t already populated by plants and flowers. Its heat and drought hardiness make it an obvious choice for tons of different climates.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 7-11

3 Sedum ‘Dragon’s Blood’

sedum ground cover plants

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This incredibly hardy plant features a lovely red color—hence the name “Dragon’s Blood.”

“It really does provide year-round interest,” says Nolan. “Even when there’s some snow, you might be able to see the little rosettes. It’s just a really pretty option in any season.”

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 3-9

4 Delosperma (“Ice Plant”)

delosperma ground cover plants

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This low-growing plant features succulent, spreading leaves, and striking flowers that open in the sunshine and close when it’s shadier. “‘Firespinner’ is one of the lovelier varieties,” says Nolan. It’s this really beautiful blend of orange, fuschia, and white colors.”

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9

5 Black Mondo Grass

Black mondo grass ground cover plants

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Black foliage might not be your first choice, but when you see how beautiful this grass is, you might change your mind. “If you plant a lime green foliage around it, that not only makes the black grass pop; the green foliage also looks even brighter,” says Nolan. “It’s also an evergreen perennial, which means it’ll have visual interest in the winter as well.”

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 6-10


6 Hens and Chicks

close up, full frame image of beautiful sempervivum plants also known as houseleeks, liveforever and hen and chicks

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The Latin name, sempervivum means “live forever,” which should give you a sense of how these tough, drought-resistant plants hold up. Their common name refers to the way the hen-like plant grows tiny rosettes around its main plant—like a hen caring for baby chicks.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 5-10


7 Lirope

lilyturf ground cover perennial

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Commonly known as lilyturf, all four species of these grass-like blooms are perennials. The towering purple buds make an appearance starting in the late summer and into the fall.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 6-10


8 Lily of the Valley

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Consider this one of the easier perennial ground covers, namely because it can bloom in partial shade with moist soil. Bonus: it’s also one of the sweetest-smelling.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 2-9

9 Spotted Dead-Nettle

spotted dead nettle

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Known as Lamium maculatum, this perennial plant is deer- and rabbit-resistant and boasts a lengthy bloom time: from mid-spring to early summer.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 3-10

10 Creeping Phlox

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These blooming beauties come in a variety of colors—white, purples, blues, and pinks—and won’t grow taller than six inches.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 3-9

11 Lamb’s Ear

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A cousin to mint that’s also called woolly hedgenettle, you’ll enjoy this plant’s lush, silvery leaves year-round. The purple flowers that bloom come spring are also pretty.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 4-9


12 Violet ‘Freckles’

ground cover flowers freckled violets

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS/ROBIN_OTTAWA

This variety of Viola sororia is moderately fast-growing and sports freckled purple flowers in mid-spring. When combined with shade-loving mosses, it creates a woodland effect.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 4-11


13 Corsican Mint

ground cover flowers corsican mint

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS/DAVID EICKHOFF

Tiny pale-mauve blossoms appear in summer on the mint-scented herb Mentha requienii. Ideal for shade, it can also handle some afternoon sun and is easily divided.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 6-10


14 Miniature Brass Buttons

ground cover flowers miniature brass buttons

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS/MEGAN HANSEN

The moisture-loving Leptinella gruveri can withstand some morning light. It’s an aggressive grower with tiny, pale fernlike leaves and small green-gold flowers in mid-spring.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9

15 Dianthus ‘Sternkissen’

ground cover flowers dianthus sternkissen

COURTESY OF STEPABLES

A variety of the moderately spreading Dianthus gratianopolitanus, featuring blue-green foliage and clove-scented pink flowers. It requires relatively little water.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 3-9

16 Creeping Mazus

ground cover flowers mazus

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS/JAMES ST. JOHN

The abundant purple flowers of Mazus reptans, also known as creeping blue, bloom in mid-spring and remain through early summer. This drought-tolerant plant can also be grown in full sun.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 4-10


17 Blue Star Creeper

ground cover flowers blue star creeper

FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS/ANDREY ZHARKIKH

Easy-to-grow blue star creeper (Isotoma fluviatilis) produces pale-blue flowers that last from spring through early fall. It spreads quickly in filtered light but can also take full sun.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 5-10

18 Sedum ‘Baby Tears’

ground cover sedum baby tears

KEN DRUSE

The teardrop-shaped, variegated leaves on this drought-tolerant succulent (Sedum album) turned red in autumn. The spikes of white flowers that burst forth each summer are a bonus.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 4-9

19 Roman Chamomile

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Scented Chamaemelum nobile thrives in hot, dry conditions. Cut stems back to two inches from the ground after the plant blooms to maintain its compact form.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 4-9

20 Woolly Thyme

ground cover woolly thyme

ANDREA JONES

The herb Thymus pseudolanuginosus, also called mother of thyme grows into a sturdy, scented carpet of fuzzy gray-green leaves that becomes dotted with miniature light-pink flowers each summer.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 6-10

21 Wild Thyme

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Also known as Breckland Thyme, this low-growing plant is great for walkways, as it tolerates pedestrian traffic and the leaves, when disturbed, release herbal or lemon scents.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9

22 Dwarf Impatiens

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MARION BRENNER

Dwarf impatiens flank this pathway planted with Soleirolia soleirolii.

Good For: Plant Hardiness Zones 10-11

Source: 22 Best Ground Cover Plants – Best Low Growing Perennial Flowers (countryliving.com)

Author: Dennis Hickey

There are no limits to success to those who never stop learning. I want to help you succeed by sharing what I have learned about life skills. Knowing these skills can nourish your personal growth. I hope you enjoy this blog, and visit often so you keep learning too!

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