Ground covers are practical plants that serve a number of purposes in the home landscape and, in the case of flowering ground covers, often provide a splash of bright color where nothing else will grow. Many ground covers grow in shady, damp areas under old trees while others will tolerate in poor soils. Ground covers are also good choice for difficult areas where they provide soil stability and erosion control.
Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata), hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, will stop traffic every spring with its five-petaled blooms in shades of white, red, lavender, pink and bluish-purple. Also known as moss pink, creeping phlox will grow in nearly any well-drained soil but prefers bright sunlight.
Periwinkle (Vinca minor), named for its vivid lilac-blue flowers that appear in spring, is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8. An evergreen ground cover, Vinca minor will remain green year-round. Vinca minor is a rapid grower that thrives in well-drained soil and full or partial shade but won't tolerate bright sunlight.
Creeping cotoneaster (Cotoneaster adpressus) is a hardy deciduous ground cover with tiny, ornate foliage and small pinkish-white blooms that appear in spring. A slow-growing plant, creeping cotoneaster will tolerate nearly any well-drained soil and prefers sun or partial shade. Creeping cotoneaster is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 7.
Mother of Thyme
Mother of thyme (Thymus praecox), hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8, is a good ground cover for sunny areas or partial shade but won't do well in dense shade. As long as the soil is well-drained, mother of thyme will grow in poor soil, including clay. A drought-tolerant plant, mother of thyme will produce pinkish-purple flowers in summer.
Ajuga (Ajuga reptans) is an evergreen ground cover that will grow in nearly any soil, including clay. A rapid-growing vine, ajuga will provide excellent springtime color with spiky blue-violent blooms. Hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, ajuga thrives in damp, shady areas and is a good choice if you want to attract bumblebees to your garden.