Think of groundcovers as landscape problem solvers. When lawn grass won't grow easily or well in a particular location, there is probably a groundcover that will do just fine. In areas that are subjected to heavy traffic and play, you can't beat a grass lawn, but for a yard that requires minimal maintenance, think about reducing the size of the lawn and growing groundcovers wherever possible. Any low-growing plant will do as long as it looks good all season, spreads quickly to carpet the ground, requires little maintenance and helps to control weeds.
For the best performance from a groundcover, you must give it the growing conditions it needs. A well-chosen groundcover will reduce your yard work, while a badly chosen groundcover will force you into a loosing battle.
Groundcovers for Dry Shade
Dry shade is usually found under trees and shrubs, under eaves and on shaded slopes. Islands of groundcovers work well under shade trees and shrubs. Try mixed plantings rather than limiting yourself to a single species.
Groundcovers for Wet Sites
Unless you enjoy mowing in a quagmire, groundcovers are the ideal solution for boggy areas. You can create a beautiful wetland garden by mixing drifts of plants with different foliage and a wide range of flowering times.
Acorus gramineus (Japanese sweet flag)
Alchemilla mollis (lady's mantle)
Anemone canadensis (meadow anemone)
Astilbe chinensis (Chinese astilbe)
Brunnera macrophylla (Siberian bugloss)
Carex spp. (sedges)
Galium odoratum (sweet woodruff)
Hosta spp. (hostas)
Lysimachia nummularia (creeping Jenny)
Primula spp. (primroses)
Pulmonaria spp. (lungworts)
Saxifraga stolonifera (strawberry geranium)
Tiarella cordifolia (Allegheny foamflower)
Viola canadensis (Canada violet)
Groundcovers for Slopes
I think we can all agree that anything that eliminates the need to mow on a slope is an excellent idea. Deep-rooted ground covers such as daylilies will help to stabilize the soil. On a very steep slope, you may need consider using temporary terracing until the groundcover takes hold. Match the height of your ground cover to the scale of your slope. Those listed below range in size from ground huggers to three feet.