garden with ground cover between stepping stones bordered by chartreuse sedum and catmint
Photo: Jerry Pavia

Problem-Solving Plants

While true to their name, groundcovers do a lot more than simply cover bare soil. Part of a vast universe of versatile and problem-solving plants, they range from feathery grasses that never need mowing to soggy-soil-loving ferns to full-sun perennials that blanket hard-to-tend hills with fragrant blooms. Some groundcovers even withstand foot traffic, making them ideal as filler between stepping stones or as a substitute for a lawn.

Characterized, in part, by how wide-ranging they are, groundcovers can be evergreen or deciduous, low- or tall-growing, clump-forming, trailing, or weeping. But they also share common traits. All ground-covers spread, colonizing areas often relegated to mulch or where turfgrass fears to take hold. And when chosen wisely to match a specific site, almost all of them reduce the need for water, fertilizer, and other routine maintenance. Best of all, they help prevent weeds by shading the soil and growing so densely that unwanted seeds can't find their footing.

Read on to learn more about the different types of groundcover and get tips on how to choose, plant, and care for them. With our help, you're sure to find the perfect plants to thrive and beautify your property.

Shown: To ensure success in your yard, pick varieties that fill in fast enough to choke out weeds yet aren't invasive. And match them to your existing soil, sun, and moisture conditions. Here, a carpet-like groundcover fills in between stepping stones along a path bordered by chartreuse sedum and purple-flowering catmint.
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