Perennials are an important part of an established garden, lending a continuity to the look of your yard. Using perennials as a ground cover is a smart way to cover an area to prevent erosion, to add visual appeal and to reduce your gardening workload.
If you take it a step farther and use perennial flowers as your choice of ground cover, you will have all of the benefits of a perennial ground cover and beauty and maybe even fragrance in some cases. There are many to choose from, depending on your likes and desires.
Periwinkle is also known as Vinca minor. It is an aggressive plant that grows about 6 inches tall with green leaves, sometimes variegated, and sends up pretty purple flowers in spring and often through the summer. This plant does better in part shade or full shade, such as under large trees where grass struggles to grow.
Phlox is also known as creeping phlox or moss phlox. It forms a dense mat of plant and tiny flowers that grow about six inches high and two feet wide with leaves that are almost evergreen. It likes full sun but will grow in part shade which makes it a great plant for rocky slopes. It is cold hardy to Zone 3 but benefits from being covered during long winters since it has a rather shallow root system.
Viola is the common name for these dainty flowers that will grow wild in much of the Northeastern United States. They grow well in sun to part shade with their heart-shaped leaves and purple to white edible flowers. It grows from 6-8 inches tall and will sprout new tubers underground as well as self sowing seeds which can make this plant quite invasive in the right conditions.
Violets tend to blossom in spring and early summer and the leaves will die off in late summer. Works well if used in combination with other late blooming perennials.
Also known as lily grass or border grass, linope is a very fast growing and invasive grassy plant that grows in almost any condition to about 12 to 18 inches tall. It will fill in any area with a grassy shaggy-carpet look.
In summer it send up purple to white flower spikes that are followed by little black or white berries. Since it is so invasive, plant it in areas separate from gardens or plants as it will smother everything else growing.
Creeping thyme is one of the few ground covers that can be walked on. It grows to 4 inches high and about 2 feet in width. It prefers full sun but will grow in full shade and will grow in just about any soil. Blossoms will erupt in spring and cover the plant with little flowers in shades of white, purple, red and lavender, depending on the variety grow. It is not excessively invasive and is easily controlled and wonderfully fragrant..
This is a semi-evergreen ground cover that forms a dense mat of tiny succulent leaves that grow about 4 inches tall. It prefers full sun to shade with moist well-draining soil. It will flower heavily for 2-4 weeks in June and July in pink to red shades of blossoms. This is a pretty plant with rose petal-like leaves that wrap around in a circle.
This is also a weed in many areas, growing wild in fields and the roadsides. It is a little tall at about 12 to 18 inches tall with three to four inch leaves, growing alternately along the stem. The flowers are tiny little purple clusters on fuzzy stems that are produced from May to October. This knotweed likes fertile soils with good moisture content. It is effective as a ground cover in larger areas where the mass of purple flowers is quite attractive in naturalized areas such as alongside stream beds.