How to Select Ground Cover


Ground cover typically grows thickly, reaches low heights, spreads out and prevents weeds from emerging in the areas where it is planted. It is often used in problem sites around the yard or places not suitable for grass, such as on slopes or near structures and sidewalks. Ground cover grows well in places other plants may not, like under trees or shrubbery and in extremely damp or dry locations. It is often used to accent an area or to blend landscaping areas. Selecting ground cover to use in your yard requires careful planning.

Step 1

Use a piece of paper to draw an outline of your yard. Select the areas in which you want to grow ground cover. Walk around your yard and write down important details about these areas.

Step 2

Note the amount of sun each area receives throughout the day. Note whether it receives full sun, no sun or partial sun. You will need this information to select the best ground cover to grow in the appropriate conditions.

Step 3

Measure the area slated for ground cover. Calculate the square footage of the planting area to determine the approximate number of plants needed.

Step 4

Check the condition of the soil. Determine whether it is well draining, wet or extra dry. Remember these details, since some types of ground covers require specific soil conditions to flourish. Make note of any wet or dry soil areas.

Step 5

Pick the overall height requirements of your ground cover. Decide whether you need low-growing ground cover to place under bushes or if there are no restrictions on height. Some ground covers grow more than 24 inches tall.

Step 6

Select the appearance of the ground cover. Decide if you want to plant evergreen ground cover that provides year-round color or herbaceous ground covers that die back during the winter season. Ground cover with blossoms at certain times of the year, and ground covers that grow as vines, in clumps, or in a thick mat are other options to consider.

Step 7

Use all of the information you gathered to select the type of ground cover needed. Contact your local nursery or regional extension service to learn the specifics on varieties of ground cover and gain their insight on plants that grow better in your region.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring device


  • University of Illinois: Groundcovers
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension: Selecting Ground Covers
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension: Ground Covers for the Landscape (PDF)

Who Can Help

  • Classy Groundcovers: Plant Calculator
  • USDA: Cooperative Extension Offices
Keywords: groundcover, grow ground cover, selecting ground cover

About this Author

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.