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Ground Covers

Ground Covers: A Field Guide

Ground covers serve the same purpose in a garden as carpets do indoors. A dense mat of low-growing plants protects the surface beneath (preventing soil erosion), keeps dust out of the air, and adds a layer of rich texture underfoot.

Turf grass historically has been the most common ground cover in many climates. But these days concerns about water conservation and climate change have led gardeners and designers to turn to environmentally friendly lawn alternatives. A debate is underway over whether artificial grass is a better ground cover than live turf (read more about it in Artificial Grass: Pros and Cons).

Choose the right ground cover for the job. To prevent weeds on walkway, a low-growing dense ground cover planted between pavers is the answer. In dappled sunlight under a tree, lilyturf is a hardy choice. In warm climates, consider a quilt of succulents. Near a pond’s edge (or in another boggy spot in the garden), sweet flag grass will solve a problem. In springtime, flowering bulbs such as crocus and grape hyacinth add color to a lawn. And featured in our Gardenista book was one of Michelle’s favorite gardens, with clumps of jewel-colored bugleweed (Ajuga) adding a second layer of texture and interest to a carpet of ground cover.

Gardening 101: Field Guides for Ground Covers

Acacia
Wood Anemone
Aeonium
Alpine Strawberry
Alyssum
Bacopa
Barrenwort
Bergenias
Black Mondo Grass
Blue Chalksticks
Bugleweed
Catmint
Butterburs
Catmint
Cherry Laurel
Crocus
Dead Nettles
Dianthus
Dutchman’s Breeches
English Bluebell
Echeveria
Fescue
Fleabane
Geranium
Grape Hyacinth
Hakone Grass
Hosta
Inland Sea Oats
Ivy
Lady’s Mantle
Lily of the Valley
Lilyturf
Lungwort
Mache
Oregano
Sedge
Siberian Squill
Solomon’s Seal
Stonecrop
Sweet Flag Grass
Sweet Woodruff
Thyme
Trillium
Western Sword Ferns
Wood Anemone
Wood Rush

Favorite Ground Covers to Plant

How to Identify a Ground Cover

All Ground Cover Posts