Ground Cover Varieties

Ground covers include a group of small plants that cover the dirt, help stop erosion and the growth of weeds. Grass, or turf, is the most common ground cover but there are many types of perennials that grow from a few inches to a few feet tall that serve a similar purpose where grass cannot grow.

Coral Bells

Coral Bells are flowering perennials that work as a ground cover in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 7. Coral Bells are compact, clumping plants with round leaves that have scalloped edges. Foliage can mound to 2 feet and wiry flower stems may be just as high. These plants have bell-shaped blooms, usually in pinks, reds or whites. Coral Bells thrive in full sun to part shade in hotter climates and require regular watering.


Juniper is a coniferous ground cover with needle- or scale-like foliage that ranges in size from a few inches to 6 feet tall. Juniper spreads and should be planted in rows about 5 feet apart. Depending on the variety, the plant may spread by growing long, low branches or by creeping and setting down roots along the way. In either case, if the original plant dies, so will all the spread. Juniper is dense and woody. It does not flower, but may produce berries. Most varieties thrive in sun, but can tolerate light shade, and require moderate watering.


Lirope is a member of the Liliaceae family and is a tropical-looking, grassy perennial that may be planted in USDA Zones 5 to 10. Like many lilies, lirope has clumps of long, slender leaves from which flower spikes emerge. The foliage, which is dark green, is 7 or 8 inches long, 1/2 inch wide with clumps that are 6 inches tall. The flower spikes, available in purple or white, appear in summer. Lirope thrives in filtered sun to part shade and requires moderate watering.

Keywords: perennial ground cover, perennials, erosion control, grass alternative

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J.D. Chi is a professional journalist who has covered sports for more than 20 years at newspapers all over the United States. She has covered major golf tournaments and the NFL as well as travel and health topics. Chi received her Bachelor of Arts in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University and is working toward a master's degree in journalism.