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Non-Flowering Ground Cover

By Cleveland Van Cecil ; Updated September 21, 2017
Use ground cover plants in eroding or sloped area to prevent topsoil loss.

Ground cover are low growing plants--under 24 inches in height, says the Colorado State University Extension--that cover large areas. The use of ground cover reduces erosion, improves a soil's organic matter as plants break down and die, and increases the area's beauty. There are several nonflowering ground cover varieties that display color and interesting patterns.


Ground cover is suitable for any large areas of exposed land, but nonflowering varieties of ground cover are often unsuitable to walk on, an exception being grasses. Steep banks or slopes, shady areas under trees where turf grass is not suitable, under shrubs and where tree roots are actively growing are all valuable locations for ground cover plants. Planting ground cover plants by roots and under trees reduces mower damage, while cover plants on hills and slopes reduces topsoil run off during heavy rains.


Nonflowering ground cover plants are best selecting according to their light requirements, says the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Some ground cover plants thrive in full sunlight, partial sunlight, deep shade and light shade. Varieties also require different soil moisture, some preferring a lightly moist soil while others thriving in drought conditions.

Soil Preparation

Proper soil preparation is required for the establishment of nonflowering ground cover plants. Ground covers sometimes spread using offshoots or runners, which are more likely to spread when the soil is aerated and has good drainage. Soil quality is best improved with the addition of 3 to 5 cubic yards of organic material per 1,000 feet of area, or 8 to 10 bushels of organic material per 100 feet. Soil requires a deep tillage of 6 to 8 inches to allow roots to develop.


Proper fertilization is required during the establishment of ground cover plants. A soil pH test will determine specific fertilization needs, or a general application of 3 pounds commercial 5-10-5 fertilizer to every 1,000 square feet of land will usually suffice.

Cover plants

Nonflowering ground cover plants come in several varieties. Creeping juniper, which spreads a woody, evergreen ground cover, is one of the most common. The leaves of the creeping juniper are green or blue-green in color, and needle shaped. Baltic English Ivy, as well as other ivies, provide a consistent ground cover, with the Baltic variety being winter hardy. Japanese Spurge, yucca and sedum are other popular varieties.