If you have lots of empty spots in your garden, the best solution is to try some ground cover plants. They’re highly recommended to combine with larger plants and create a sense of fullness. Ground cover plants can make an important difference when it comes to giving the garden a greener look. This is due to their ability to grow in a carpet-like fashion. Think of a ground cover plant as a foundation that can be relied upon when designing the garden.
While there are different types of ground cover plants that can be used, most gardeners tend to prefer evergreens for this purpose. It makes sense when you consider the prized ability of evergreen plants to retain their vibrant foliage all year-round. It’s also worth mentioning that evergreens are not as fussy as other types of ground cover plants. With their help, you will be able to lower overall yard maintenance. Check out the following evergreen ground cover plants that work best for all kinds of landscaping purposes.
1. Japanese Spurge
Anyone who wants a reliable foliage plant to use as ground cover should take a close look at the Japanese spurge evergreen. It offers great resistance to dry shade and deer while its shiny leaves can brighten up any awkward gaps in the garden. A good ground cover plant needs to be tough to withstand difficult growing conditions. It seems that Japanese spurge could be an ideal option in this case. The evergreen plant can face many challenging conditions including drought and clay-heavy soils.
This is a reliable ground cover plant but it’s still important to keep in mind some potential drawbacks. The Japanese spurge needs to be planted correctly in shady spots because the foliage will otherwise burn from direct sunlight. There’s susceptibility to certain diseases like leaf blight if you’re not careful about avoiding overhead watering. Overall, the Japanese spurge can be considered a fairly low-maintenance plant once properly established. The tendency to create a dense mat can be very appreciated but make sure you control the quick spread of the plant.
2. English Ivy
This is one of the most popular options for gardeners looking to add an evergreen ground cover plant. The English ivy is known for its minimal care requirements and the ability to grow efficiently in different environments. The dense foliage can inhibit weed growth while the plant fights against soil erosion as well. Many gardeners choose this type of ivy for its creeping and trailing habit. It’s safe to say that its versatility comes in handy to fill in some awkward spots.
The English ivy can be grown easily in part shade to full shade. This is advantageous for many scenarios but make sure you prevent full sun exposure as it can be damaging to the foliage. The evergreen vines of the English ivy can grow quickly and so vigorously that certain locations consider the plant invasive. A simple solution could be to choose a more recent cultivar that doesn’t spread so aggressively. In terms of visual impact, it’s possible to select from different types of English ivy according to leaf style. There are variegated options and varieties with crinkled edges.
3. Blue Star Juniper
One great solution for an evergreen ground cover plant is the blue star juniper. Native to mountainous regions of Asia, this is an evergreen shrub with dense green foliage with a silver tinge. Although this isn’t a type of creeping juniper, you can use the plant reliably for ground cover purposes. This is because the blue star variety will start growing wider once it becomes fully established. By growing the needled shrub in a mass, you can take better advantage of its ground cover potential.
This type of juniper gets its name from the clusters of needles that have a similar look to stars. The main advantage of the blue star juniper is that it’s incredibly low-maintenance. It can thrive in full sun and sandy soil but the plant can adapt to more challenging conditions without problems. There’s some notable drought resistance at maturity while pest or disease problems are rare. The only weakness is a hot climate area with great humidity. Make sure you live in hardiness zones 4 to 8 for ideal growing results.
4. Creeping Thyme
While not all types of creeping thyme are evergreen, you can choose the right variety to enjoy the great ground cover capabilities of this plant. This is a herb with fragrant leaves that can be used in cooking. Creeping thyme is appreciated for its significant tolerance of heat and drought making it a good choice for gardens in hot climate areas. Once the plant gets properly established, it can create some dense blankets of foliage.
Pretty purple flowers are blooming in the summer to add a splash of color to the ground. As long as you choose sunny spots with dry, well-drained soil, there will be minimal involvement on your part to care for the creeping thyme. The aromatic herb can easily thrive without much help. It’s also strong enough to be able to face heavy foot traffic. This is why it’s a recommended ground cover plant to fill gaps between garden stepping stones or along walkways. You can release the distinctive fragrance of the oils contained in the foliage of the creeping thyme.
If you live in a colder climate, the bearberry evergreen can be a suitable choice to meet your ground cover needs. It can provide winter interest and bears edible fruits that are usually used to create herbal remedies. Bearberry is a low-growing shrub that has some difficulties when growing in high temperatures or humid conditions. It has some drought tolerance but it performs best when planted in moderately moist soil. Gardeners appreciate its slow creeping habit paired with shiny foliage.
Before red berries start to appear, the bearberry groundcover produces small flowers in a shade of creamy pink. The versatility of bearberry makes it a good choice for other purposes, aside from acting as ground cover. The plant works nicely for rock gardens and can thrive in containers as well. The fact that it doesn’t spread too aggressively makes bearberry more practical if you don’t want to worry about it taking over your yard. Another great feature of this ground cover plant is the ability to tolerate salt so those near the coast can give it a try.
6. Creeping Phlox
With its beautiful cascading look, the creeping phlox semi-evergreen deserves an important mention on this list. This is an ideal ground cover plant for gardeners in USDA zones 3 to 9. It grows in full sun and prefers consistent moisture for its soil. That being said, the creeping phlox can handle dry conditions and are fairly adaptable plants overall. The main highlight of the plant is the thick and colorful mat of flowers. Creeping phlox blooms are available in multiple shades of pink, purple, and red.
Another interesting advantage of this plant is its potential to prevent soil erosion. It’s a recommended option for mass planting on a hillside. Creeping phlox is a semi-evergreen as the foliage stays green most of the year. The plentiful flowers of this groundcover appear in the spring. The compact style of the plant makes it suitable for rock gardens or stone walls. Gardeners also appreciate the way this plant grows at a moderate speed and has minimal care requirements. Pruning can help to take advantage of new blooms.
One of the most popular types of Euonymus plants, the wintercreeper has an impressive spread that resembles English ivy. This evergreen can creep with ease and fill any awkward gaps left in your garden. For that reason, the wintercreeper is a good candidate if you’re looking for a reliable ground cover plant. When it comes to visual impact, the most impressive characteristic of this plant is the foliage. There are different varieties you can try, including variegated options.
Growing the wintercreeper evergreen shrub involves a combination of partial shade and well-drained soil. It can tolerate poor soil conditions and drought but it has problems with excess moisture. Similar to other evergreens, this plant is quite resilient. Other varieties of Euonymus are usually more cold-hardy but wintercreeper can only grow successfully within zones 5 to 9. Flowers of this shrub are insignificant and the plant is considered toxic if large quantities are ingested. Some areas consider wintercreepers invasive as it can spread very effectively under optimal conditions.
8. Spotted Dead Nettle
Available with either evergreen or semi-evergreen leaves, the spotted dead nettle can act as a pretty ground cover. The plant is mostly appreciated for its foliage that spreads quite wide. The silvery leaves can be particularly attractive paired together with the flowers in multiple shades of purple or pink. The spotted dead nettle is a creeper plant so it’s considered reliable for filling up empty spots that would be otherwise occupied by weeds. Some good companion plants to consider are Lenten rose, barrenwort, and hostas that thrive in the shade.
Thanks to their love for shade and solid dry conditions tolerance, spotted dead nettles represent an excellent low-maintenance choice for landscaping. Plants tend to prefer acidic soil with adequate drainage and can be grown successfully in hardiness zones 4 to 8. Depending on the specific location, spotted dead nettle can become invasive without a lot of effort. Plants spread quickly and form a dense mat that’s usually useful for covering problematic ground areas in the garden.
Vinca minor or periwinkle represents an excellent addition for any garden in need of proper ground cover. Some of its best qualities are resistance to pests and low maintenance. Periwinkles are tough evergreen perennials that can easily naturalize in some areas. They’re adapted to grow successfully in zones 4 to 8. Common periwinkle plants have pretty flowers in shades of blue and purple but there are some varieties that show off white blooms. The flowers produce a pleasant fragrance that’s more noticeable if you choose the right planting spot close to heavy-traffic areas.
Periwinkle has a tendency to grow very fast so it’s important to prevent it from overwhelming a smaller garden. This can be done through pruning. Although some gardeners view this characteristic as a drawback, this quick spread is actually a good thing if you wish to integrate the plant as ground cover. Vines of vinca minor tend to grow best in consistent moisture soils but dry conditions can be tolerated. The plant prefers partial shade though it can perform without issues in other sunlight conditions.
10. Angelina Stonecrop
The sedum genus contains lots of fitting evergreen ground cover plants that are worth introducing to your garden. One recommended option is Angelina stonecrop. This is a succulent that grows in the shape of a mat and has a limited height. It features needle-like foliage that varies in color depending on sunlight conditions. Angelina stonecrop grows quickly and spreads effectively enough to be used as ground cover. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to help it thrive. Just ensure it gets good soil drainage and full sun.
This plant is quite hardy when it comes to temperature and humidity. It can face drought and cold weather once established. Angelina stonecrops can work well for various landscaping purposes. Empty gaps between boulders in a rock garden can be quickly filled with the help of this evergreen succulent. It looks very attractive when paired with plants with dark foliage as Angelina stonecrop’s lime-gold color can stand out better. This ground cover plant is propagated by rooting and pruning is only necessary for shaping.
Evergreen in warm climates, the candytuft shrub can put on an impressive floral display while acting as a reliable ground cover. It’s a better option if you want a showy plant instead of the typical evergreen that provides interest only through its foliage. Growing candytuft can involve some effort as it’s important to ensure the right environment that allows the plant to develop its characteristic mass of flowers. Full sun is an essential requirement but the rest of its care needs aren’t very strict.
Candytuft plants can form an attractive pairing with Angelina stonecrops as they grow in similar conditions. The flowers of candytufts like well-drained soils and show off some decent drought tolerance. The rich-green foliage can also be considered a great quality of the candytuft ground cover. Bees and butterflies will often visit the delicate blooms of this plant. One of the most popular candytuft species is Iberis sempervirens that grows best in hardiness zones 4 to 8.
12. Wall Germander
Wall germander is a plant with woody stems that performs nicely as an evergreen ground cover. This low-maintenance subshrub doesn’t grow very tall and shows elegant flower spires with purple-pink blooms. Aside from its reliable function as ground cover, the wall germander is also a recommended landscaping solution for edge beds. This is thanks to being easy to shape like a miniature hedge using some pruning shears.
Despite not being as popular compared to other evergreen groundcovers, this plant is worth a shot considering the drought tolerance and deer resistance. The subshrub shows off decent cold hardiness and minimal fussiness in terms of soil conditions. Another important benefit of growing wall germander in your yard is its ability to draw bees. The plant was used for medicinal purposes in the past but nowadays wall germander is used for other reasons. One great example is how it’s being incorporated in knot gardens where they can form creative patterns. Less fancy uses include edging or lining a walkway.
As long as you can control its rampant spread, bugleweed can reward any gardener with beautiful flowers and solid ground cover abilities. There are multiple bugleweed varieties you can try and many of them can show off colorful foliage. Stick to variegated cultivars as they’re less invasive. If you have large, shady areas where nothing seems to grow well, this evergreen can provide a dense mat that crowds out any weeds. Bugleweed is a strong candidate for groundcover purposes because it’s also resistant to deer.
Also known as Ajuga, bugleweed plants require well-draining and fertile soil to develop to their full potential. Established plants can handle some drought and they’re not very fussy about light conditions either. Bugleweeds can handle a wide range of temperatures and seem to perform best in full sun to partial shade areas. While this a very low-maintenance ground cover plant to consider, keep in mind that it can be very susceptible to crown rot disease when the weather is particularly hot and humid.
14. Lenten Rose
Despite its name, the Lenten rose is not truly a rose. Its flower can resemble the shape of a rose but the plant belongs to the buttercup family. It’s mostly valued for its early blooms that can look very attractive in multiple shades of purple, yellow, and pink. The plant can act as a reliable ground cover due to its evergreen foliage that has a leather-like texture. Flowers of the Lenten rose appear close to ground level and last for a considerable amount of time.
To grow this ground cover plant, it’s only essential to keep the soil moist and find a good shady spot. The Lenten rose is known for its impressive tolerance of shade so that means it’s a good option for many neglected spots in the garden. It’s a recommended option for planting under the canopy of a tree. Although this plant prefers moist soil, you should still be careful of excessively wet conditions. The Lenten rose has some resistance to dry weather and it may require mulching in the winter.
15. Creeping Juniper
One excellent evergreen ground cover plant for your garden is the creeping juniper. Although it’s classified as a shrub, this plant behaves more similarly to a subshrub. It grows low to the ground and has an aromatic scent that makes it suitable for being close to various high-traffic locations. Although the creeping juniper produces flowers and bears distinctive fruits, gardeners don’t include it in their garden for these characteristics.
The most valued contribution of the creeping juniper is simply through its dense foliage that acts as a reliable ground cover. The plant changes color from bluish-green in the summer to a reddish tint in the winter. The height of the creeping juniper reaches around 6 inches. The more impressive aspect is the spread which allows the shrub to cover a considerable area of around 8 feet. Another great feature of this creeping plant is the ability to protect against soil erosion which can be considered a problem for certain areas. There’s limited maintenance required to grow the creeping juniper.
16. Red Sedum
Also known as Dragon’s Blood, the red sedum is a hardy solution to try for a groundcover plant. It grows in suboptimal soil conditions and can tolerate dry spells. This type of sedum plant shows off beautiful flowers in a deep shade of red. The vibrancy of the color depends on sun exposure so it’s recommended to set aside a very sunny spot in the garden for this plant.
The Dragon’s Blood sedum has the tendency to create a dense mat with its foliage so that makes it a fitting choice as a groundcover. It’s a very appreciated plant for its fall foliage which appears even more brilliant. The ability to resist drought and light shade can make this sedum suitable for rock gardens or as an edging plant. This plant can still thrive despite neglect and is very rarely affected by pests and diseases. Some improved varieties like ‘Fulda Glow’ are able to withstand colder temperatures and can retain their ruby-red foliage for longer.
17. Black Mondo Grass
The Black Mondo grass is a semi-evergreen plant that belongs to the lily family. It’s a native of Japan and shows off a stemless appearance with grass-like blades growing in clumps. One of the most distinctive characteristics is the dark color of the foliage which makes it a rare plant that’s truly black. The Black Mondo grass produces some flowers that have a bell shape in an attractive shade of pink. The blooms aren’t very large and only emerge in the summer. They’re quite insignificant compared to the beauty of the unique foliage.
Due to being able to thrive in semi-shady areas, this ornamental grass can be often used in various landscaping purposes. It can feel at home in a rock garden but it also acts as a ground cover or edging plant. The Black Mondo plant is sometimes called monkey grass but that can be confusing as the name may also refer to other unrelated plants such as lilyturf. Moist soils seem to work best to allow this type of ground cover grass to develop as expected. More water is usually required in hotter climate regions.
Able to stay green all the time in many climates, lilyturf represents a nice choice for a ground cover plant. It’s also quite popular as an edging plant. The grassy leaves of lilyturf tend to grow in dense tufts while pretty purple-blue or white blooms appear on stems resembling spikes. The flowers can remind you of grape hyacinths. Thanks to the striped look of its leaves, lilyturf earned a popular role when it comes to attractive ground cover plants.
Growing lilyturf in your garden is fairly easy. This plant is hardy in zones 5 to 10 and prefers part sun. It can tolerate more extreme temperatures to some extent and boasts decent drought resistance. There are many benefits to consider when adding lilyturf plants to the yard. It’s useful for slope control and the flowers provide an enjoyable fragrance. Some of the most popular varieties of lilyturf are ‘Lilac Beauty’ and ‘Variegata’. It’s recommended to use it with companions like wild ginger, anemone, and columbine plants.
19. Rock Cotoneaster
If you prefer a taller ground cover plant, check out the rock cotoneaster evergreen. It can rejuvenate the look of any garden area with the help of its lovely sprays of green leaves. Rock cotoneaster produces small flowers in delicate shades of pink and white. They also bear fruits that many wild birds find attractive. It depends on the variety, but this plant will usually reach a maximum of 3 feet in height. That means it could be a suitable ground cover plant for hillside areas.
Growing rock cotoneaster doesn’t take a lot of effort but you should be aware that it requires full sun to maximize berry production. The plant isn’t fussy about soil quality though it prefers loamy types with adequate drainage. This shrub can tolerate drought to some extent but only after it gets properly established. The rock cotoneaster is known by its botanical name Cotoneaster horizontalis because of its tendency to spread horizontally. Aside from being recommended as ground cover, this plant is also suitable for other landscaping applications such as rock gardens.
20. Siberian Cypress
The Siberian cypress is a solid choice if you want to introduce an evergreen ground cover to your shade garden. Although it’s not as well-known as other plants used for this purpose, this type of cypress is worth a shot considering its versatility. The main feature to consider is the overall hardiness. The Siberian cypress can rival the creeping juniper when it comes to shade tolerance. It’s actually a better option than other ground cover plants due to its superior disease resistance and lack of fussiness in terms of soil requirements.
This is a conifer ground cover that can spread quite large and offers an elegant appearance with scale-like leaves. The Siberian cypress has a nice texture for embankments or coastal gardens. It’s a recommended landscaping solution for cascading over walls. The plant shows off excellent drought tolerance. It can keep its foliage bright green in the summer while leaves transform in the fall to a reddish hue. In the winter season, you can start to fully appreciate the ornamental potential of this evergreen ground cover plant as it delivers a contrasting effect.