Ground cover plants provide a vital role in both landscape and gardens. Aside from offering an eye-pleasing accent, ground cover is important for providing erosion control. With a variety of plants to choose from, most ground cover ranges from just an inch to nearly 4 feet in height. Ground cover is also a great alternative to turf grass, which cannot grow in all locations. Most ground cover requires minimal maintenance and can thrive on flat surfaces or pitched slopes. Proper maintenance with little more than mulch to fertilize will aid in moisture retention and lower water expenses.
A good choice for a well-drained garden that receives fill sun, Dianthus gratianopolitanus 'Bath's Pink' is heat and drought tolerant and also resists humidity. With several species of dianthus available, Bath's Pink is one of the more durable and hardy. To encourage continued blooming, spent flowers should be plucked clean. Growing to about 12 inches in height, the plant will bloom from May to July with an attractive pink flower.
Walker's Low Catmint
Walker's low catmint (Nepeta x faassenii) is especially good at attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and combines nicely with roses of any variety. Drought tolerant, this plant is also not afraid of water and will prosper with moist soil. Planted in full sun, the plant will spread about 18 inches and reach similar heights. Look for lavender blue blooms in the early summer.
A low growing bushy-type foliage, the October skies aster (Aster oblongifolius) produces lavender blue flowers in the middle of autumn. A hardy plant that is drought tolerant and able to thrive in poor soil, the October skies is a low, slow-spreading aster with pleasingly aromatic flower. The plant grows best in full sun and offers a spread of almost 2 feet per plant.
Hardy Ice Plant
Hardy ice plant (Delosperma cooperi), often just referred to as "ice," forms a flowing carpet of bright tender green foliage with pink purple flowers resembling daisies. Flourishing in dry, mostly sandy soils, ice is common in the West for roadside landscapes as well as along the coast on oceanfront slopes. Best in full sun, ice needs well-drained soil. With each plant growing to about 6 inches high but almost four times that in width, ice is a solid choice for a low-maintenance, inexpensive ground cover. Blooms are pink to purple.
John Creech Sedum
John Creech sedum (Sedum spurium) forms a dense carpet of foliage with attractive pink rose like flowers in late summer. With a variety of sedum available, the John Creech may be the best for ground cover. With its tight, overlapping leaves forming a mat of hundreds of pink flowers, the plant is not invasive and does not spread aggressively like other sedum varieties. Planted in full sun, the John Creech offers low height (about 3 inches tall) and a wide spread (about 10 inches).