Finding the right ground cover can be tricky, as gardeners often seek a reliable plant that won't take over the yard and steal the spotlight from showier flowers. Once the right ground cover has been found, one can only hope that it is a perennial, as perennial ground covers do their job by sprucing up the garden year after year.
A member of the dogbane family, big periwinkle (Vinca major) is a perennial ground cover noted for its broad, evergreen leaves and delicate true blue booms, which explode into color during the spring. Big periwinkle is a fast-growing, easy-to-maintain plant that forms a loose ground cover. The plant will grow in almost any soil type, although it will need a moderate amount of moisture if grown in very dry soils. Big periwinkle will grow in full sunlight or partial shade, and does well in the dappled sun under trees.
Native to Europe, Iran and parts of Western Asia, carpet bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) is an oft used ground cover that forms an extremely dense cover. The evergreen perennial boasts deep green whorls of leaves accented by spikes of tiny blue clusters of flowers. The plant is fast growing and reaches heights of only 6 to 10 inches. Carpet bugleweed will tolerate many types of soil as long as its watered well. This ground cover will grow in partial or full shade.
For those who value foliage as much as flowers, purple heart (Tradescantia pallida) is the ideal perennial ground cover, offering rich purple foliage and tender pale pink blooms. Native to Eastern Mexico, purple heart is quite drought tolerant and grows well in less than ideal soils so long as they're well-draining. Purple heart produces more flowers if grown in full sunlight. Purple heart is only slightly frost tolerant and should be covered on especially chilly nights.