Ground cover plants

Ground covers are plants that have the ability to creep in a thick carpet and fill the entire territory allotted for them. They serve as an excellent alternative to a grassy lawn, ideal for shady corners of the garden and rockeries, indispensable when you need to fill the soil between large perennials and shrubs.

Most of the ground covers are hardy and unpretentious, with often decorative evergreen foliage, and some also bloom beautifully. There are a lot of such plants, and to make it easier for you to navigate, we have made a selection of the best of them.

Ground cover plants

Groundcover is a great choice for those looking for beautiful and easy-care plants

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Small periwinkle (Vinca minor)

Lesser periwinkle (V. minor) is an evergreen creeping plant, half-shrub. In height, it rises by only 10-30 cm, and generally expands to the sides, gradually filling large areas.

Outwardly, the plant resembles a carpet woven from thin long ligneous shoots, decorated with small leathery dark green leaves. As they grow, shoots crawl along the ground and take root internodes. New branches begin to grow from this place, intertwining with the mother’s shoots and forming a dense elastic cover.

In spring – at the beginning of summer, periwinkle blooms with blue funnel-shaped flowers with a diameter of 2–2.5 cm. In addition, varieties with flowers of white, pink, red, purple, including double and variegated foliage, have been bred.


In Slavic mythology, periwinkle is considered a symbol of vitality and eternal love.

The vitality of this plant is fascinating. It loves partial shade and moisture, but at the same time it easily adapts to the sun and remains alive for a long time even in completely dry soil. It also endures winter staunchly and preserves green foliage under the snow.

If you plant a periwinkle in the shade, it will give good greens, but it will bloom worse. In the sun, on the contrary, the bushes will be dense and with a lot of flowers. To quickly get a thick carpet, 7-9 plants are planted per 1 m². For better tillering, young shoots are pinched.

As a carpet plant, periwinkle is good in shady corners of the garden, under the crowns of trees, on steep slopes. Looks very impressive in wide borders. He loves the neighborhood with decorative boulders, beautifully wrapping thin branches around them.


Small periwinkle in composition with stones

Waldsteinia ternata (Waldsteinia ternata)

Waldsteinium trifoliate (W. ternate) is often called carpet strawberry for the external similarity of leaves. It is a perennial plant 5–10 cm high with a creeping underground rhizome and numerous stolons, thanks to which it actively grows. Waldsteinia grows into a rug with openwork foliage and looks very cute. From April to June, bright yellow flowers, collected in loose inflorescences, give it additional decorative effect.

Waldsteinia prefers shady and semi-shady places in the garden with moderately moist, light and nutritious soil. In the sun, delicate leaves can burn.

To create a dense carpet for 1 m², 8-10 plants are planted with an interval of 35-40 cm. At first, until the culture covers the soil, weeds must be removed. But as soon as Waldsteinia becomes stronger, it itself must be kept in check, otherwise it will quickly displace not only weeds, but also cultivated plants.

In plantings, Waldsteinium trifoliate is best used alone or in combination with strong and large perennials, such as hosta, astilba, kupena, lungwort. Most often, it is planted between trees and shrubs.

Waldsteinium trifoliate

Wide border of trifoliate Waldsteinia

Loose leaf (Lysimachia nummularia)

Loose leaf (L. nummularia), or meadow tea, is widespread in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Caucasus. It is a perennial plant with creeping shoots up to 30 cm long and round, coin-like leaves. Hence the specific name. Small bright yellow flowers appear on the loosestrife in early summer and can last until August.

It has established itself as a good, sometimes even overgrown, ground cover crop. In the places where the leaf blades come into contact with the soil, the loosestrife takes root easily, therefore, the overgrown glades must be controlled to avoid unwanted spread.

Although in nature the plant prefers partial shade, in the garden it grows without problems in open areas, the main thing is to provide it with good humidity. The culture is unpretentious to nutrition, but responsive.

Because of its love for water and its ability to withstand long-term flooding, the coin loosestrife is ideal for planting along the edge of a garden pond. His whips will not only descend to the water, but will also float beautifully across the mirror of the pond. In addition, it grows well on steep slopes, which makes it in demand in the design of relief areas. The variegated form of the Aurea plant with golden yellow foliage looks impressive.

  Loose mint

Carpet stain from monet loosestrife in a composition with ferns

Apical pachisandra (Pachisandra terminalis)

Apical pachisandra (P. terminalis) is a beautiful evergreen plant from the boxwood family (Buxaseae), a dwarf dwarf shrub with erect shoots 15–35 cm long and glossy leathery leaves. It spreads slowly with its creeping rhizome, covering the soil with a thick, deciduous carpet. From April to May, pachisandra throws out small white flowers, but it is appreciated for its decorative foliage.

Apical pachisandra

Apical pachisandra of the Green Carpet variety

The plant prefers semi-shady and shady places. For pachisandra to feel comfortable, she needs loose nutritious weakly acidic soil and moderate moisture.

If you need to plant trees on a large area, 8–12 plants are planted per square meter. With such a density, the bushes will close in 1–2 years. A heavily overgrown shrub can be cut off immediately after flowering – the branches can be shortened, and the bald shoots can be cut out. Over the summer, the plant will restore its green mass without problems.

The apical pachisandra grows best in open areas on the north side, in the partial shade of large trees. It is usually not planted with perennials, but for beautifully flowering shrubs – rhododendrons, azaleas – it will be an excellent soothing base. According to the texture of the leaves, the evergreen dwarf shrub goes well with the Japanese holly, carpet spots of pachisandra can be “painted” with crested trees.

Apical pachisandra

Apical pachyzandra is prone to spring burning, therefore it must be protected from the bright March sun Pachisandra apical is prone to spring burning, therefore it must be protected from the bright March sun

Subulate bryozoan (Sagina subulata)

As soon as they call the styloid bryozoan (S. subulata) – fattening grass, star moss, Irish moss. This is not surprising. The plant forms such dense and dense cushions of thin sods that from a distance it really looks like moss.

Bryozoan subulate

Bryozoan pillows subulate on the slope of the site

A perennial herb rarely grows above 5–8 cm and consists of many self-rooting side shoots, due to which the curtain grows. Its leaves are very small, like needles. It blooms from mid-summer to September with small star-shaped flowers.

For planting bryozoans, shady and semi-shady places are suitable. You can also plant in the open sun, but on condition that the plant is provided with regular watering. There are no special requirements for the soil, the main thing is that it is moist and well-drained.

When planting, take into account that each bush of grass grows up to 20 cm in diameter. If you want to get a solid blanket, you need to plant up to 15 plants per 1 m². At first, you need to clear the grass from weeds, but gradually it will displace them.

In the garden, subulate bryozoan is most often used on alpine hills, and also decorate slopes and open areas with it, combining with thyme, campanula, carpet chamomile. Trample-resistant star moss can replace your lawn without having to mow. The bryozoan can also be used to plant tile gaps on stepped paths.

Bryozoan subulate

Subulate bryozoan on an alpine hill

European hoof (Asarum europaeum)

European hoof (A. europaeum) belongs to the ground cover plants that are valued for their attractive foliage. Herbaceous culture about 10-15 cm tall is decorated with round shiny leaves on tall cuttings, in shape and size resembling a horse’s hoof. It grows due to the creeping stem.

The hoof needs a shady or semi-shady place and moist, loose, humus-rich soil with a neutral or slightly alkaline pH reaction. It is best to plant clefthoof seedlings in the spring, and in order for it to take root reliably, it will take at least 1-2 years. After that, it will become quite durable and easy to clean. The plant needs to be fed 1-2 times a season and watered regularly.

The European hoof grows rather slowly. To obtain a closed vegetation cover, 12 to 20 plants are planted per 1 m². Planting density depends on your patience and willingness to wait for it to grow.

The perennial is great for landscaping the north side of the house, it can be planted in the shade of trees, between the fence and hedge. In flower beds, it goes well with lamb, ferns, shade-tolerant ornamental grasses.

European hoof

European hoof and ferns are excellent garden partners

In addition to the above, there are many other ground cover plants: thyme, stonecrop, campanula, canadian derain, styloid phlox, obrietta. There are ground cover roses and creeping conifers. And whichever of them you choose, they will make your garden more beautiful, more interesting and harmonious.