Ground Cover Species


You can grow a variety of different ground cover species in various locations around your yard. Ground cover fits in all types of landscape designs and you can plant ground cover wherever you need to. Choose ground cover suited for your specific USDA Plant Hardiness Zone for best results.


Ground covers' main function was once to take the place of grass, to stabilize the soil and to stop erosion on hills too vertical to use mowers, according to West Virginia University. In addition, ground covers were grown in full shade locations to cover up bare spots where grass does not grow. Now, ground covers are used for all of these purposes and as other features in the landscape, such as taking the place of mulch around shrubs, to blend the various design elements together, to provide seasonal effects or to create borders.


The types of ground covers include herbaceous, woody shrub, vine, sub-shrub, herb-vine and vine-shrub species. You can obtain ground cover species ranging in heights from 4 inches up to 24 inches in the various types and for nearly all USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. You can choose from species that produce flowers, remain green all year, spread quickly, grow in extremely dry (or wet) areas, flourish in full sun or grow best in complete shade.


Planting the ground cover species you selected calls for site preparation to ensure the ground cover flourishes for seasons to come. Remove all foliage from the entire area and work the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches, unless planting under trees, and then only work the soil to a depth of 2 or 3 inches. Add a 2-inch layer of organic matter, such as well-rotted manure, compost, leaf mold and peat moss. Apply a standard fertilizer to the entire planting area, according to the manufacturer's instructions.


Once you have planted the ground cover, provide the proper care needed to make certain it grows. Use a 2-inch layer of mulch around newly planted ground cover or hand-pull any weeds that emerge. Supply 1 inch of water weekly when rainfall is less until the ground cover is well established and then water only during dry periods. Apply a fertilizer, like 12-12-12 to the ground cover as directed each spring or late fall and then saturate the area with water.


Keep a few things in mind when selecting the specific species of ground cover to grow. Use low-growing ground covers in smaller sections of your yard and taller species in larger areas or places with steep inclines. Always choose ground covers suited for the specific soil conditions (dry, normal or wet) and amount of sunlight the growing area receives. Only grow herbaceous ground covers in areas of your yard where you do not need year-round foliage.

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Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published on Yahoo!, the Travel Channel and Intel.