Ground covers play an important part in many landscape designs. These low-growing plants provide surface material for sports and other activities, ornamental enhancements in yards and parks, and protection against soil erosion in many areas. Determining the best variety of ground covers for your site requires careful consideration of soil conditions, amount of light and specific climate considerations. Choose the best type of ground covers to add beauty and function in your landscape.
By far the most common type of ground cover plant, grass provides coverage in many different climates and soil types. Native grasses, thrive with little attention, provided natural conditions exist within the growing site. Although many homeowners prefer to grow lawn grasses that require regular mowing and watering, native grasses enhance naturalized areas of yards and parks. Ornamental and native grass varieties provide the best ground covers in hard to maintain areas with difficult access. Choose varieties like Canada wild rye and bromegrass for areas requiring quick coverage.
Although many vines grow upright on supporting structures, these twining varieties of plants make great ground covers, due to their ability to spread and cover various types of surfaces. Many types of vines produce tendrils that firmly grasp nearby structures, making these good selections for windy areas. Ivy vines, such as Boston Ivy and English Ivy, grow well in average soil.
Some types of ground covers form runners that spread along the ground. These creeping ground covers extend along surfaces, filling in bare spots. Many of these plants, such as Moneywort, form thick, dense mats as they mature. Pruning helps contain these creeping ground covers and removes old, woody growth.
Ground covers that generate blossoms create attractive displays near the surface of the soil. Many gardeners include at least a few flowering varieties to add color and interest. One type of blossoming ground cover, the lily of the valley, produces small white blossoms with a noticeable fragrance. Both annual and perennial varieties of blossoming ground covers grow in a variety of soils and climates.
Evergreen ground covers provide year-round color in the landscape. Vinca minor, also known as common periwinkle, displays slightly glossy leaves throughout the year, while producing small blue and white flowers during the month of May. Many gardeners enjoy growing small shrubs, such as creeping junipers, among other varieties of ground covers. Although classified as a shrub, these spreading plants grow very close to the ground, making them a favorite choice as evergreen ground covers.