How to Plant Ground Cover


Ground covers are low-growing plants that are usually less than 24 inches tall. Plants suitable for ground covers spread easily, require little maintenance and adapt to a variety of soil conditions. These plants provide a variety of textures, colors and shapes in the landscape. Ground covers are used on dry slopes, highway medians, parking strips and bare areas. They reduce soil erosion and replace grass. Ground covers are not intended for areas with foot traffic, which damages the plants.

Step 1

Remove grass, weeds and debris from your planting area. Check the light exposure for your plant variety. Be sure that your growing site has the proper lighting. Loosen the soil to the depth of 8 to 12 inches with a shovel. Turn the soil over and remove any buried debris.

Step 2

Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of pine bark mulch or compost over the soil. Work the organic material into the loose soil. Rake the soil smooth and allow the soil to settle overnight.

Step 3

Dig individual holes with a hand trowel at the spacing suggested according to your plant variety. Remove the plant from its container and loosen the roots so they are not growing in a circular direction.

Step 4

Place the rootball in the hole, spreading the roots with your fingers. Fill the hole with soil and firm the soil around the plant.

Step 5

Plant the rest of the ground cover plants at the appropriate spacing. Allow enough space for the mature form of the plants. Sprinkle the area with water until the soil is wet.

Tips and Warnings

  • Ground cover plants develop rapidly into a dense cover. These plants tend to become invasive if not managed.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Pine bark mulch
  • Rake
  • Hand trowel
  • Ground cover seedlings
  • Water


  • Colorado State University Extension---Xeriscaping: Ground Cover Plants
  • North Carolina State University: Ground Covers
Keywords: planting ground cover, installing ground cover, landscaping groundcover

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.