Discover a diverse selection of groundcover plants for landscaping.

selection of ground covers for full sun, shade and partial shade

I use ground covers as a low maintenance weed suppression and controlling erosion on a steep slope that I have.

I am using three groundcovers that I have to keep in check.
If left unchecked it wants to take over the world. :)

  1. Creeping Junipers - I trim these back, if it goes where it shouldn't be.
  2. Creeping Sedum - I just pull out the extra growth.
  3. Variegated Ground Elder - I cover the extra growth with landscaping cloth. Digging it out won't work. It will find another root to sprout.
  4. Chameleon plant - portion of this plant has to be solarized to be kept in check. It's a pretty plant in the right spot, but once you have it - just digging it out won't work.
  5. I have others, but they behave themselves - mostly. :)

Groundcover Plants:

There are groundcover plants for nearly every site from full sun to shade.
They are mainly used in landscaping to provide weed suppression, erosion control, moisture retention and aesthetic enhancement.
All are attractive and low maintenance. In addition to use as groundcovers, many can be used as edging plants, in rock gardens and borders.
When planning your ground cover plantings, it's important to consider their growth habits.


Do groundcovers completely eliminate the need for weeding?

While groundcovers suppress weed growth, regular light weeding might be necessary.

Can groundcover plants withstand foot traffic?

Certain groundcovers like thyme and sedum can tolerate light foot traffic, making them suitable for pathways.

How fast do groundcover plants spread?

The rate of spread depends on the plant species and growing conditions.

Here are a few examples of popular groundcover plants:

Selection of Groundcovers for: *Full Sun*

Ground Covers Description Culture
Achillea tomentosa
("Woolly Yarrow")
Perennial providing a thick mat of whoolly, gray-green, fernlike leaves topped with flat, 1 inch wide flower clusters on 6-12 inch stalks.
Blooms: Summer
Colour: Yellow
Well drained soil. Drought tolerant. Tolerates alkaline soil. Propagates by division. May be mowed to maintain a thick carpet. Leaves are fragrant.
Zones: 4-10
Antennaria Dioica
Mat-forming perennial. Clusters of wide flowers, borne singly on 4-10 inch stalks.
Blooms: Early Summer
Colour: White Pink
Well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. Propagate by division. Good for coastal areas, exposed sites.
Zones: 3-7
Dianthus Gratianopolitanus
("Cheddar Pink")
Perennial forming a very dense evergreen mat. Fragrant flowers. 4-12 inch stalks.
Blooms: Early Summer
Colour: Rosy Pink to Red
Well drained soil. Propagate by division, cuttings, layering and seeds. Shear mats in fall. May need winter protection.
Zones: 4 - 10
Iberis Sempervirens
Evergreen perennial forming 6-12 inch high mound of dark green leaves topped with tiny white flower clusters.
Blooms: Late spring through early summer
Colour: White
Well drained soil, Propagate by division, cuttings, seeds. Trim back hard after flowering to promote compact growth.
Zones: 4 - 10
Juniperus spp.
Genus of evergreen shrubs with many mat-forming species and cultivars under 18 inches. Foliage grayish green, green and blue green.
Blooms: None
Colour: None
Grows best in loamy, semi moist soil. Propagate by cuttings, layering, seeds, grafting. Can be planted on banks or slopes.
Zones: 2 - 10
Potentilla spp.
Perennial or small shrubs ranging from 2-12 inches in height. Form mats or low mounds. Small flowers borne in loose clusters.
Blooms: Spring to Summer
Colour: White Yellow
Sandy well drained, dry soil. Propagate by division, seeds. Perennial shrubby species very heat and drought tolerant.
Zones:3 - 10
Sempervivum spp.
Perennial. Succulent, rosette-forming that spreads by off-sets on runners surrounding central plant. Flowers are not showy.
Blooms: Summer
Colour: Green, Yellow or Red
Dry, well drained soil. Propagate by division.
Zones: 5 - 10
Thymus spp.
Creeping or low-growing Perennial. Leaves of most species give off pleasant aroma when crushed.
Blooms: Summer
Colour: Purple, Pink
Well drained poor soil. Propagate by division or seeds. Flowers attractive to bees. Lemon thyme can be planted between paving stones.
Zones: 4 - 10

Selection of Groundcovers: * Full Sun to Partial Shade *

Ground Covers Description Culture
Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi
("Common Bearberry")
Evergreen, carpet forming shrub. Small bell-shaped flowers followed by red berries and bronze foliage in fall. Plants 6-12 inches tall.
Blooms: Late Spring to Early Summer
Colour: White, Pink
Sandy, acid soil. Drought tolerant. Slow growing. Propagate by cuttings. Can be planted on banks for erosion control.
Zones: 2 - 4
Bergenia Cordifolia
("Heartleaf Bergenia")
Semi-evergreen perennial that forms dense clumps. Flowers borne in clusters above the leaves.
Blooms: Late Winter of Early Spring
Colour: Pink
Will tolerate any soil, but prefers rich, humusy soil. Propagate by division, cuttings.
Zones: 3 - 10
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
Low growing, 9-12 inches tall perennial that emerges in late spring. Glossy leaves turns bronze in fall. Flowers are borne in loose clusters.
Blooms: Mid Summer through Fall
Colour: Blue
Rich, moist soil, well drained. Best in full sun, but tolerates light shade. Propagate by division and cuttings. May become invasive. Needs protection in the North.
Zones: 6 - 10
Cotoneaster spp.
Deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub. 1-3 feet tall. Tiny flowers and bright red berries. Foliage turn dark orange-red in Fall.
Blooms: Early Summer
Colour: Pinkish White
Rich, well-drained soil. Drought tolerant. Prune to maintain shape. Propagate by cuttings, layering and seeds. Good for banks to control erosion. Species that make good ground covers are: C. adpressus, C. dammeri, C. horizontalis.
Zones: 4 - 10
Liriope spp.
Grasslike, evergreen perennial with spikes of tiny flowers held above the foliage.
Blooms: Midsummer to Fall
Colour: Pale Purple, White
Will grow in most soils. Propagate by division. Leaves can be trimmed or mowed in spring.
Zones: 5 - 10
Sedum spp.
A genus of succulents, creeping or mounting perennials.
Blooms: Summer
Colour: Yellow, Pink, White, Red
Any well-drained soil. Drought tolerant. Propagate by division, cuttings. Low maintenance.
Zones: 3 - 10
Stachys Byzantina
("Lamb's Ears")
Perennial. Grown for its soft, fuzzy, grey leaves. Flowers borne in spikes that bees love.
Blooms: Spring
Colour: Pinkish Purple
Full Sun. Grows best in poor to average, well drained soil. Propagate by division, seeds. Good for rock gardens and ground covers. Grown for foliage and most people remove the flower spikes. I leave some for the pollinators.
Zones: 4 - 9

Selection of Groundcovers: * Partial Shade *

Ground Covers Description Culture
Chrysogonum Virginianum
("Golden Star")
Creeping 3-10 inches perennial with oval leaves and small flower heads.
Blooms: Spring to Summer
Colour: Yellow
Semi-rich, well drained soil. Propagate by division, seeds. Good for wild flower gardens.
Zones: 6 - 9
Epimedium spp.
Perennial with light green heart shaped compound leaves. Plants grow 9-12 inches tall. Tiny flowers borne in clusters. Leaves turn bronze in Fall.
Blooms: Spring
Colour: Red, Pink, White
Grows best in rich soil, but can tolerate dry shade. Propagate by division.
Zones: 4 - 10
("Lamium, Dead Nettle")
Perennial with silver variegated leaves.Flower blooms in 6-8 inch stalks.
Blooms: Early Spring and again in late Summer
Colour: Pink, Magenta, White
Prefers partial shade, but it will tolerate full sun and an average moist soil. Propagate by division, seeds and cuttings. Grow under trees, rock gardens, hanging baskets.
Zones: 3 - 9
Phlox Stolonifera
("Creeping Phlox")
Creeping perennial. Flowers are borne in loose clusters.
Blooms: Spring
Colour: Bluish, Purple, Pink, White
Rich, moist soil rich in organic matter. Propagate by division. Good for rock gardens. will tolerate full sun.
Zones: 4 - 9
Tiarella Cordifolia
Perennial wildflower with nearly triangular, 3-4 inch leaves. Flower stalks 8-12 inches.
Blooms: Late Spring to Early Summer
Colour: White
Rich moist, well-drained soil. Propagate by division, seeds.
Zones: 5 - 8

Selection of Ground Covers: * Partial Shade to Deep Shade *

Groundcovers Description Culture
Ajuga Reptans
("Carpet Bugleweed")
Low mat-forming perennial. Tiny flowers borne in spikes. Leaves are ground-hugging.
Blooms: Late Spring to Early Summer
Colour: Purple, White
Any well-drained soil. Propagate by division. Grows rapidly, can become invasive.
Zones: 4 - 10
Asarum Europaeum
("European Wild Ginger")
Evergreen perennial with glossy heart-shaped leaves. Flowers borne under foliage.
Blooms: Spring
Colour: Insignificant; Brownish
Rich, moist soil. Propagate by division, seeds. Good for wildflower gardens and woodland areas. The roots are aromatic. The tiny flowers are pollinated by slugs. I don't think I want European Wild Ginger then. :)
Zones: 5 - 9
Convallaria Majalis
("Lily of the Valley")
Vigorous perennial. 6-8 inch dark green leaves with spikes of tiny fragrant bell-shaped flowers.
Blooms: Late Spring
Colour: White, Pink
Rich moist soil. Propagate by division. May become invasive. Divide if plant becomes crowded and stops blooming.
Zones: 4 - 9
Hedera Helix
("English Ivy")
Evergreen creeping or climbing vine. Creeping plants will form a 6-10 inch high carpet.
Blooms: Insignificand flowers
Colour: Greenish
Rich, moist soil. Propagate by cuttings. Good for banks to control erosion. Best to keep this plant from climbing unless that's what you want.
Zones: 6 - 10
Hosta spp.
("Plantain Lily")
Clump-forming Perennial of various sizes, shapes and colours. Sizes ranges from 6-36 inches depending on species. Some have fragrant flowers.
Blooms: Summer to Fall
Colour: White, Lavender
Rich, moist, well-drained soil. Propagate by division. Many cultivars are grown for their attractive foliage.
Zones: 4 - 9
Pachysandra Terminalis
Evergreen, 6-10 inch perennial grown for it's attractive foliage.
Blooms: Spring to Summer
Colour: Off white
Will grown in any soil. Spreads faster in moist soil. Propagate by cuttings, division. Will grow under trees.
Zones: 6 - 9
Vinca Minor
("Common Periwinkle")
Evergreen, mat-forming perennial. Grows 4-8 inch tall. Flowers borne above foliage.
Blooms: Early Spring to Summer
Colour: Light bluish Purple, White
Moderate to rich soil that is well drained. Will tolerate full sun. Propagate by division, cuttings. Good on banks for erosion control. Will grow under trees.
Zones: 5 -8

Groundcovers for * Dry Shade *

Always hard to find a plant that will strive in "Dry Shade" like under a tree or large shrub. Other places that we encounter dry shade is under eaves and on shaded slopes, where rainwater often runs off.

Here's some Perennial Groundcovers for * Dry Shade *

  1. Acorus Gramineus (Japanese Sweet Flag
  2. Achemilla Mollis (Lady's Mantle)
  3. Bergenia Cordifolia (Heartleaf Bergenia)
  4. Convallaria Majalis (Lily of the Valley)
  5. Festuca Caesia (Blue Fescue)
  6. Hedera (Ivies)
  7. Lamium Maculatum (spotted Lamium
  8. Ophiopogon spp. (Mondo Grasses)
  9. Polygonatum spp. (Salomon's Seal)
  10. Vinca spp. (Periwinkles)

Groundcovers for * Wet Sites *

Try to grow a lawn on a "wet, boggy ground" is an effort doom to failure.
Here's some plants that will do well in wet soil. I also used Ferns and Hostas.
I also use variegated ground elder, but that was a mistake. Ground elder likes that spot a little too much.

  1. Acorus Gramineus (Japanese Sweet Flag)
  2. Achemilla Mollis (Lady's Mantle)
  3. Anemone Canadensis (Meadow Anemone)
  4. Astilbe Chinensis (Chinese Astilbe)
  5. Brunnera Macrophylia (Siberian Bugloss)
  6. Carex spp.(Sedges)
  7. Galium Odoratum (Sweet Woodruff)
  8. Hosta spp. (Hostas)
  9. Lysimachia Nummularia (Creeping Jenny)
  10. Primula spp.(Primroses)
  11. Pulmonaria spp. (Lungworts)
  12. Viola Canadensis (Canada Violet)

Groundcovers for * Slopes *

If you ever mowed a slop, you know why a care-free ground cover is a better idea. :)
I have a slop in my front yard and that's what I did.
I covered it with creeping junipers, candy tuft, Japanese forest grass, spring bulbs and dwarf irises.
I go up the slope a couple times a year to maintain it. :)

  • Achillea spp. (Yarrows)
  • Achillea Mollis (Lady's Mantle)
  • Coronilla Varia (Crown Vetch)
  • Cotoneaster spp. (Cotoneasters)
  • Euonymus Fortunei (Wintercreeper)
  • Juniperus Cultivars (Creeping Junipers)
  • Sedum spp. (Stonecrops, Sedum
  • Verbena spp. (Verbenas)

back to Colourful Shrubs || Shrub List: Small, Medium and Large