15 Flowering Ground Covers to Meet Landscaping Challenges

Ground cover plants are extremely useful in landscaping.

They’re low-maintenance landscaping solutions to common problems and questions like:

  • What should I plant on a slope that’s too steep for my lawnmower?
  • What will grow under a shady tree with prominent roots?
  • How can I create a uniform border along my driveway?
  • What can I plant that I can walk on, without having to mow?

And ground covers that bloom are not just functional – some are stunning!

A close up of a purple-pink carpet of flowering creeping phlox.

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Here’s an idea:

Look at your front lawn. If it’s like mine was, it’s a sea of green waiting to be thatched, seeded, fertilized, watered, and mowed, on a rotating basis, year in, year out.

Why not remove one section of grass and replace it with a low-maintenance focal point that is especially lovely when it’s in bloom?

Read on to discover 15 flowering ground covers that are sure to make your outdoor space more attractive, and your yardwork easier.

Our Favorite Flowering Ground Covers

Some ground covers are only a few inches tall, and others top out at two feet or more.

Bergenia | GardenersPath.com

What qualifies them for this category is not their height, but their function:

To form interconnected mats via creeping or clumping that crowd out weeds and form a continuous expanse of foliage.

If you’re thinking of converting a lawn area to a network of creeping or clumping plants, be sure to consider the need for pathways to facilitate movement through your landscape.

Also, before planting any creeping or clumping plant, particularly those that claim to be fast growing, refer to the USDA list of Introduced, Invasive, and Noxious Plants. What is desirable in one state may be considered a nuisance in another.

1. Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

Perennial bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) is a member of the mint family that readily naturalizes in zones 3 to 10, growing best in average to moist soil, with full sun to partial shade.

Bugleweed | GardenersPath.com

In warmer climates, this plant is evergreen.

Topping out at 6 inches, it derives its name from spikes of tiny bugle-shaped blossoms that range in color from blue to white. The leaves of this plant are glossy, toothed or smooth, and often tinged with shades of purple. Bloom time is May through June.

'Black Scallop' Ajuga | GardenersPath.com

‘Black Scallop’ Bugleweed,  available from Nature Hills Nursery

Nature Hills offers A. reptans ‘Black Scallop’ in 1-gallon pots.

2. Canadian anemone (Anemone canadensis)

Perennial Canadian anemone (Anemone canadensis) is a US native wildflower that spreads well in zones 3 to 8, prefers moist soil, and thrives in full sun to part shade.

A thick layer of Canadian anemone | GardenersPath.com

Its height varies from one to two feet. Blossoms are individual and white in color, and leaves are bright green with toothed edges.

[easyazon_image align=”center” height=”500″ identifier=”B00HME543U” locale=”US” src=”https://gardenerspath.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/518WJbzO2EL.jpg” tag=”prettyac-20″ width=”500″]

Everwilde Farms Canada Anemone Native Wildflower Seeds, [easyazon_link identifier=”B00HME543U” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]available on Amazon[/easyazon_link]

Amazon offers packages of 150 [easyazon_link identifier=”B00HME543U” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]Canada anemone native wildflower seeds[/easyazon_link] from Everwilde Farms.

3. Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)

Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) is a woody, mounding perennial that likes full sun and well-drained soil, and tolerates drought. It’s suitable for zones 3 to 8, and reaches a height of about 12 inches. In warmer climates, this plant is evergreen.

Candytuft | GardenersPath.com

The blossoms of candytuft consist of sweetly scented clusters of white petals, which are often so profuse that you can’t see the elongated green leaves below. Bloom time is April through May.

[easyazon_image align=”center” height=”350″ identifier=”B004HPNPAG” locale=”US” src=”https://gardenerspath.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/519Sc9BvutL.jpg” tag=”prettyac-20″ width=”350″]

[easyazon_link identifier=”B004HPNPAG” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]Outsidepride Candytuft Groundcover Seed[/easyazon_link]

Seeds are available in packs of 1,000 from Outsidepride [easyazon_link identifier=”B004HPNPAG” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]via Amazon[/easyazon_link].

4. Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Creeping phlox, or moss phlox, makes a bold statement as a carpet of color in shades of pink, blue, or white. Leaves are small and evergreen.

Creeping phlox | GardenersPath.com

It stands up to light foot traffic and is lovely cascading over slopes and garden walls. This is a native variety suitable for zones 3 to 9 that is perennial in most regions.

Plants are about two inches tall, and may exceed 6 inches when in bloom, during March through May. Provide sun to part shade, with average soil and moisture.

[easyazon_image align=”center” height=”500″ identifier=”B076VPXR4N” locale=”US” src=”https://gardenerspath.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/61H8f8LVtML.jpg” tag=”prettyac-20″ width=”499″]

[easyazon_link identifier=”B076VPXR4N” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]Phlox Subulata ‘Scarlet Flame'[/easyazon_link]

P. subulata ‘Scarlet Flame’ in 2 1/2-inch pots are [easyazon_link identifier=”B076VPXR4N” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]available on Amazon[/easyazon_link].

Read more about growing and caring for creeping phlox here.

5. Creeping Thyme (Thymus serphyllum)

Creeping thyme (Thymus praecox) is a wild variety of the herb that is wonderful between stepping stones. Light foot traffic releases a delightful minty aroma.

Creeping thyme is an excellent solution for problem spaces in the landscape, and it smells delightful. We share growing tips for this and more of our favorite flowering ground covers on Gardener's Path: https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/lawns-and-grass/flowering-ground-covers/

Hardy in zones 4 to 8, this woody perennial likes well-drained dry to average soil and full sun. It’s drought tolerant, and evergreen in mild climates.

Reaching approximately 3 inches in height, this plant has tiny, round, glossy green leaves and spikes of tiny pink-purple blossoms from June through July.

Pink Creeping Thyme | GardenersPath.com

‘Coccineus’ Creeping Thyme

Nature Hills offers T. praecox ‘Coccineus’ in 1-gallon containers.

Consult “Tasty Turf: Tips for Using Culinary Herbs as Ground Cover” for more ideas on using herbs in your landscape.

6. Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum)

Lamium maculatum thrives in zones 3 to 8 in part to full shade. It is evergreen in temperate zones. Leaves are variegated green and silvery-white, and pink blossoms appear from May through July.

Deadnettle | GardenersPath.com

This drought-tolerant plant prefers cool, low-humidity regions with well-drained soil. Varieties vary in height from several inches to about two feet, grow in a clumping or creeping fashion, and form an interconnected network that crowds out weeds and inhibits soil erosion.

The shorter varieties are great for those narrow spaces in between paving stones, as well as in rockeries and border gardens, where you want to inhibit weed growth.

[easyazon_image align=”center” height=”237″ identifier=”B0164HT3GY” locale=”US” src=”https://gardenerspath.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/41Xd956n8PL.jpg” tag=”prettyac-20″ width=”300″]

‘Beacon Silver’ Deadnettle, [easyazon_link identifier=”B0164HT3GY” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]available on Amazon[/easyazon_link]

Amazon offers [easyazon_link identifier=”B0164HT3GY” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]L. maculatum ‘Beacon Silver'[/easyazon_link] in 4.5-inch pots, 10 to a flat.

7. Hosta (Hosta sieboldiana)

Reliable perennials, hosta leaves vary from forest to lime green, to variegated green and white, to all white. Blooming is inflorescent in nature, with tall spikes of small white or purple blossoms appearing from May through July. Some varieties are sweetly scented.

Hosta sieboldiana 'Elegans' | GardenersPath.com

Also called plantain lilies, hostas have always been a staple in my family’s gardens. My great-grandmother had enormous plants with foot-long dark green leaves. These were divided for propagation at my parents’ home and later my own, in a rite of passage that continues today.

Perfect for zones 3 to 8, most prefer shade and rich, damp soil. Heights vary, with some reaching over 2 feet.

Hosta 'Elegans' | GardenersPath.com

Hosta ‘Elegans,’ available from Nature Hills Nursery

Nature Hills offers H. sieboldiana ‘Elegans’, available in 1-gallon containers.

8. Horned Violet (Viola cornuta)

Horned violets are annuals with green, rounded leaves, and scented two-toned blossoms in shades of purple and blue that bloom from April through June. They are perennials in temperate climates.

Purple horned violet | GardenersPath.com

Reaching from 6 to 8 inches in height, creeping horned violets are suitable for zones 6 to 11. They require average soil and moisture, and do best in full sun to part shade.

[easyazon_image align=”center” height=”500″ identifier=”B003ZCWP7Q” locale=”US” src=”https://gardenerspath.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/61MViTNwG2BL.jpg” tag=”prettyac-20″ width=”500″]

‘Arkwright Ruby’ Viola Seeds, [easyazon_link identifier=”B003ZCWP7Q” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]available on Amazon[/easyazon_link]

Amazon offers [easyazon_link identifier=”B003ZCWP7Q” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]V. cornuta ‘Arkwright Ruby.'[/easyazon_link] Each package contains 600 seeds from the Seed Needs company.

9. Japanese Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)

Japanese pachysandra, or spurge, is an evergreen perennial that’s perfect under shrubs where grass doesn’t want to grow.

Pachysandra | GardenersPath.com

As a kid, I helped one neighbor gather a bucketful of cuttings from another neighbor to plant under a large tree with distressed, sprawling roots, and bare soil.

Those cuttings took root almost immediately. Before long, there was a pretty bed of glossy green whorled (i.e. spiraled) leaves that not only hid the tree roots, but protected them from further lawnmower damage. In April, spikey white blossoms made for an added attraction.

If you’re in zones 5 to 9 and looking for a fast-growing option, this could be the one. It’s drought tolerant, does best in part to full shade, and reaches a height of about 12 inches.

'Green Sheen' Japanese Spurge | GardenersPath.com

Pachysandra ‘Green Sheen’

Nature Hills offers Japanese spurge (P. terminalis ‘Green Sheen’) in 1-gallon pots.

10. Liriope (Liriope spicata)

Liriope is also known as lily turf. I have this hardy perennial beneath my front garden rosebush. It’s a grass-like plant with clumping and creeping varieties that may reach 1 to 2 feet in height.

Flowering liriope makes a gorgeous ground cover- click through to check out more of our favorites: https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/lawns-and-grass/flowering-ground-covers/ #groundcover #flowers #gardening #landscaping

Spikes of tiny blossoms in shades of blue, white, or purple appear in August and September. Some have green foliage, while others are variegated.

Liriope thrives in sun as well as shade, and likes moist, rich soil. It’s suitable for zones 5 to 10. I’m in zone 6, and mine turn brown in the winter and freshen up in spring.

Liriope makes pretty garden borders and is good at inhibiting erosion on slopes. It’s great under trees where you just can’t seem to get the grass to grow.

Liriope Spicata | GardenersPath.com

Liriope Spicata

Nature Hills offers L. spicata, a creeping variety, in 1-gallon pots.

11. Lithodora (Lithodora diffusa)

I recently planted my first lithodora. It was the tiny, bright blue blossoms that caught my eye at the nursery.

It likes part shade, particularly in hot regions, and must have well-drained soil.

Lithodora | GardenersPath.com

Great for zones 6 to 8, and able to withstand light foot traffic, this plant may reach 12 inches in height. It has small, hairy “sessile” green leaves that are attached without stalks, making for a low profile.

Lithodora blooms vigorously in May, then occasionally through August. In temperate zones, it is a perennial.

I’m on the annual/perennial cusp, so if I layer my plant well with mulch and we have a mild winter, it should return next spring.

One thing I learned quickly with this plant is that it won’t spread out and naturalize if it has competition from native weeds and wildflowers.

Be sure to give your new ground covers room to grow. Once established, their matted root networks should squeeze out the competition.

12. Pig Squeak (Bergenia cordifolia)

Pig squeak is a perennial whose name comes from the squeaky sound the leaves make when you rub them between your fingers. It’s suitable for zones 3 to 8, and grows best in part to full shade.

Bergenia | GardenersPath.com

Pig squeak is a clumping plant with shiny, dark green leaves and stalks of pink blossoms that bloom in April and May. It’s a slow-grower that may exceed 12 inches in height. This plant is drought tolerant.

'Winter Glow' Bergenia | GardenersPath.com

‘Winter Glow’ Bergenia

Nature Hills offers Pig Squeak ‘Winter Glow’ in 5-inch pots.

Read more about growing bergenia here.

13. Spike Speedwell (Veronica spicata)

Spike speedwell, often called royal candles, is a clumping perennial suitable for zones 3 to 8. Its narrow green leaves form a base for tall spikes comprised of tiny blossoms in shades of purple, blue, pink, or white. Bloom time is June through August.

Spike speedwell | GardenersPath.com

Spike speedwell prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil. It grows to a foot or more in height. Multiple plantings merge into a vibrant swath of color.

Blue veronica flowers | GardenersPath.com

Veronica ‘Blue Bouquet,’ available from True Leaf Market

True Leaf Market offers V. spicata ‘Blue Bouquet’ seeds in packages of 100 and 500.

14. Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Sweet woodruff is a fragrant perennial with star-like white blossoms atop whorled (spiraled) green leaves. It blooms during the months of May and June.

Woodruff makes a beautiful flowering ground cover. Read our list of the best flowering ground cover plants: https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/lawns-and-grass/flowering-ground-covers/ #groundcover #landscaping #lawncare #gardening #flowers

Perfect for zones 4 to 8, sweet woodruff prefers part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil. It tops out at approximately 8 inches, and naturalizes rapidly. This variety is great as an underplanting beneath shrubs.

Sweet woodruff is one of my favorites, as I’m a fan of woodland gardening with shade perennials.

[easyazon_image align=”center” height=”375″ identifier=”B004ZBBT9Q” locale=”US” src=”https://gardenerspath.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/51nvjDg83OL.jpg” tag=”prettyac-20″ width=”500″]

[easyazon_link identifier=”B004ZBBT9Q” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]Sweet Woodruff Flower Seeds[/easyazon_link]

Seeds are [easyazon_link identifier=”B004ZBBT9Q” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]available via Amazon[/easyazon_link], in packets of 20.

15. Wishbone Flower (Torenia fournieri)

Wishbone flower, also called bluewings or clown flower, is an annual that grows best in part to full shade.

Wishbone flowers | GardenersPath.com

Suitable for zones 2 to 11, it likes moist, well-drained soil. The blossoms of wishbone are trumpet-shaped in shades of purple, pink, white, and yellow, often with contrasting “throats.” Leaves are light green and oval.

Wishbone is desirable for its ability to produce vibrant color all summer, in the shadiest portions of a garden.

[easyazon_image align=”center” height=”350″ identifier=”B0060NFSTO” locale=”US” src=”https://gardenerspath.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/5159wIRDlL.jpg” tag=”prettyac-20″ width=”350″]

[easyazon_link identifier=”B0060NFSTO” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]Outsidepride T. Fournieri Seeds[/easyazon_link]

The Outsidepride company offers multicolor 100-seed packages of T. fournieri, [easyazon_link identifier=”B0060NFSTO” locale=”US” tag=”prettyac-20″]available on Amazon[/easyazon_link].

Carpets of Color

Ground covers are a versatile garden choice. They’re perfect for irregular terrain, and make an attractive alternative to a sea of green grass. In addition, when planted beneath ornamental shrubs, they make a useful weed barrier.

Purple speedwell makes a lovely ground cover, interplanted with tulips and other springtime bulbs. Learn more now on Gardener's Path: https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/lawns-and-grass/flowering-ground-covers/ #springtimebulbs #tulips #groundcover #flowers

Do you love spring bulbs, but hate the unsightly withering greens that follow blooming?

Try growing bulbs right through a patch of speedwell or pachysandra, and their fading post-bloom foliage won’t be as noticeable.

When selecting plants, keep in mind that native types are the most vigorous and require the least maintenance. Consider mixing varieties to achieve an appealing palette of color, texture, and height.

And remember that evergreens provide winter interest, while deciduous varieties disappear completely during the cold months.

Pay close attention to descriptions of plant heights as you make your selections. You don’t want to shop for a ground-hugger to plant between paving stones and come home with a two-foot spike variety!

I love the ground cover plants that meander through my property. Now it’s your turn to create a feast for the eyes with rich and varied carpets of color.

Phlox and hostas | GardenersPath.com

Which plants will you choose?

We love to hear from our readers. Tell us in the comments below how flowering ground covers play a feature role in your landscape.

Looking for more perennial flower suggestions? Try these:

Product photos via Nature Hills Nursery, True Leaf Market, Outsidepride, Seedville, Seed Needs, Pixies Gardens, SS0029, and Everwilde Farms. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

53 thoughts on “15 Flowering Ground Covers to Meet Landscaping Challenges”

  1. what are the little blue flowers (ground cover) currently growing wild along w/the snow drops? They have six petals.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your question, Mary. If they were purple rather than blue, my best guess would be crocus, though I’d describe those as more purple than blue. It’s hard to say what they might be without more information, but we’d love to help you to identify these flowers! Where are you located? Feel free to send a photo via email or our Facebook page.

      Reply
  2. I would love to ask such an experienced person. I have a creek with steep (60%) slope, shady. How to hold the dirt falling into the creek and put some nice grass green all year round?

    Reply
    • Hi Viktorija,

      I think you’re trying to fight a losing battle there. I’ll let Nancy and Matt Suwak (our resident landscaper) weigh in, but grass requires sun. Even those seed mixes advertised for shady areas require a good amount of sun-hours to be vigorous.

      I would plant a a single species or a mix of shade tolerant ground covers instead. Something like: #6. dead nettle 7. hosta 9. Japanese pachysandra 14. sweet woodruff or 15. wishbone flower.

      Grass just isn’t designed for the shade having evolved on plains and savanna.

      You can get some more ideas in our shade category: https://gardenerspath.com/category/how-to/shade/

      Reply
      • Hackenakloa Japanese forest grass likes shade and is beautiful although a bit slow growing, lawn fertilizer speeds it up.

        Reply
    • You’re right, B. Thanks for bringing this error to our attention! We’ve replaced this image with a new one. Unfortunately, the original must have been mislabeled. Our mistake.

      Reply
  3. Hi! I came across this article on ground cover and thought I would ask for some help identifying a type of ground cover we saw and are interested in using. I have included 3 photos of it. Any idea what it is called? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
      • My recent experience with Vinca is that it’s almost impossible to get rid of without physically digging it up as I had to! Keep that in mind when you plant it and make sure that you put it in area where you don’t mind a carpet of green. If you have an area of your yard where you don’t want to mow, Vinca might be a good choice because it’s maintenance free and keeps the soil in place. Maybe the person who was looking for something to plant near a stream bank (Victorija?) could consider this. Basically, put the Vinca in the ground and stand back; it WILL take over very quickly.

        Green side UP!

        Reply
      • How do you eradicate it? It has taken over my front beds, yard and everything in the back. The roots grow deep and attach to everything it comes in contact with. I’m thinking that’s what I have also. Does it also have white flowers. If so, then maybe that’s what I have..

        Reply
        • Vinca minor usually has pale blue or purplish flowers, but varieties are available in white as well. It can certainly be hard to eradicate once established!

          You can pull it out by the roots when the ground is moist. Be sure to dig deep, at least six inches down, sometimes as far as several feet. You will need to remove all of the roots and plant material to keep it from coming back. This can be a painstaking process, and some gardeners choose to apply an oil-based herbicide instead. But keep in mind that this can be damaging to other plants in the area, and for the environment in general.

          Reply
  4. Thank you for your article. Can you identify this low growing perennial that my friend bought at a farm?

    Reply
    • My best guess is a narrow leaf variety of artemesia, however it also resembles an annual frequently used in “instant color” pre-planted patio pots and mixed hanging baskets in place of trailing pertunias or purple wandering jew.

      Reply
  5. My husband just put in new sod in our front yard. In order not to have to weed eat up to the rock wall border he left a space for a ground cover. We live in eastern North Carolina. The area is sunny in the morning, shady in the afternoon. What ground cover would you suggest that would add ornamental color, low maintenance and not take over the yard? It has to be deer resistant.

    Reply
  6. Ceratostigma plumbaginoides – Leadwort, Hardy Plumbago – grows in sun or shade, doesn’t need lots of water, weed resistant as well. Bright cobalt blooms in late summer, bronze fall foliage. Slow to fill out in the spring – so I underplant with crocus and tulips. Love the stuff, wish it would spread just a little faster.

    Reply
  7. We live near Napa Ca. In our yard we have a 30 foot circumference circle that was recently cleared looks horrible want to plant spread some seed to cover the circle with something that will last and look good all year long. It is in a high visible area that needs something that looks really good. Ideas?? What can I plant now in winter?

    Reply
    • Hello Robert –
      With your sunny, dry weather, you might like Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’. This is a type of creeping sage with fragrant purple flowers and edible leaves. Mature dimensions range from 1 to 3 feet tall and 5 to 8 feet wide. It has low water needs and tolerates drought well. The growth rate is moderate to fast. The ground temperature should be at least 65°F for planting.

      Reply
  8. Question: we live in Virginia in zone 6. We are looking for a flowering ground cover that doesn’t require a ton of water since we are on a well. We live in the woods with mostly sun throughout the day. We have a bank on the side of our driveway where we planted shrubs but want to fill in the area also with ground cover. Any suggestions?

    Will creeping they grow and how much should I plant for an area 60 feet long by 20 feet wide?

    Reply
    • Hi Terry – You might like to try Vinca minor, commonly called periwinkle. It’s the topic of several of our discussions here. Periwinkle is suited to your zone, prefers shade but can grow in sun, controls erosion on banks, and does well beneath shrubbery. Its watering needs are considered dry to average. I’ve grown it for years in shady gardens, and find it to be an excellent ground cover.

      As for the math, each plant may spread to 18 inches wide. The recommended spacing is 12 to 18 inches apart. You may plant them closer together, but you run the risk of inhibiting airflow and inviting fungal issues.

      Reply
  9. I have a steep hill in our backyard that gets morning and early afternoon sun, the rest of the day is shaded due to the large trees. A landscaper planted small juniper but the weeds overtook the area and the juniper is growing slowly. I need to find groundcover that will grow quickly and not allow weeds to take over the area. Any ideas? It is just below our pool area so something that blooms or atleast stays green for most of the summer would be perfect!
    Thanks!
    Paula W.

    Reply
    • Hi Paula –
      You might like to try Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’, a perennial flowering ground cover for USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9. It has fleshy leaves that are green in summer and red in fall. Star-like red flowers bloom throughout the growing season. This fast-growing, disease-resistant, evergreen plant might be just what you’re looking for.

      Reply
  10. I have an area that gets washed away with heavy rain. I need a ground cover that will help with erosion. I live in sw Missouri. What would be a good choice for me.

    Reply
    • Hi Carol –
      Tussock sedge, Carex stricta, is a native plant that thrives in wetlands. It’s an excellent choice for erosion management that does well in both full sun and part shade. Grass-like foliage grows in clumps. Reddish-brown flower spikes bloom in spring. Mature dimensions may reach three feet in height and two feet in width. Give it a try and let us know how you like it.

      Reply
  11. I was under the impression that Bugleweed was considered an invasive species. I would have to agree. It’s extremely invasive. Our home’s previous owner panted it in an area that wouldn’t grow grass. Now it’s taking over my backyard, including where grass grows well. And I can’t seem to get rid of it. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Hello Susan –

      A plant described as naturalizing readily is likely to spread as far as space allows. Bugleweed is not classified as an invasive species, but is currently being watched for the potential to become so in my region of the Mid-Atlantic. Folks who plant it are generally addressing a problem, such as erosion, or in your case, an area where the grass won’t grow.

      As a fan of grass alternatives, I appreciate bugleweed, but have avoided an uncontrolled spread by planting it in areas with physical boundaries, such as patios.

      If you want to contain your bugleweed to its original location, where the grass won’t grow, you’ll need a physical barrier to restrict its shallow roots from spreading, such as a brick or stone border.
      Once you have it contained, you can begin to eradicate it from the back lawn by mowing it to the ground. Then apply an herbicide, either purchased or made with horticultural vinegar, water, and dish soap. And finally, you’ll have to dig out the roots. They are shallow, but have long runners. The more you can remove, the fewer plants you’ll have. When you’ve removed as many as you can, you may install sod or sow seed to reestablish the lawn.

      Your point is an excellent one – one gardener’s readily-naturalized plant is another’s invasive nightmare, regardless of Dept. of Agriculture classifications.

      Reply
  12. I live in southern NH, I have a steep hill extremely sandy soil , gets full sun. Can you recommend a good ground cover? We’ve planted juniper over the years, some have taken but not that great. I have creeping phlox along the top of lower stone walls which do great, but the hill is high and I need to help with erosion and make it look good as well! Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Lisa –
      You might try bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. It’s a native plant for your region that’s suited to sandy soil and full sun. Heights range from 6 to 12 inches, and there are pinkish flowers in the spring.

      Reply
  13. Hello! I am looking for low growing (5-10 inches) flowering plants for my windowboxes. Partial sun in Portola Valley California. Any suggestions? Thank you, Bobbi

    Reply
    • Hi Bobbi –
      You might try ice plant, Delosperma cooperi. It’s a succulent with bold, daisy-like flowers that is suited to your zone. The height is a low-profile three to six inches, with widths up to 24 inches. Ice plant comes in colors ranging from magenta to orange. It requires full sun and is water-wise.

      Reply
  14. We planted phlox on our hill several years ago and havE enjoyed it, but we didn’t prepare the ground properly before planting. Now the dandelions, creeping Charlie, grass and clover are all intertwined with the phlox, as I wasn’t able to weed last year. Is there any way to get rid of the weeds and save the phlox without starting over again?

    Reply
    • Hi Jim –
      That’s a tough one. Herbicides may not only kill the weeds and grass, but the phlox as well. I’m an organic gardener, so I recommend waiting until after it has rained, when the soil is soft, and tackling one section at a time by hand. Some folks squirt weeds with vinegar, but this may be futile on a large scale.

      Reply
        • Hi Kelly –
          To prepare a slope for planting creeping phlox, dig the soil down about 12 inches and work it until it is crumbly. The best soil for this plant is sandy or loamy, well-draining, and with a pH of 6.0 to 8.0. You may mix in some builder’s sand to improve drainage, or incorporate a two-inch layer of organic material, such as compost, to enrich poor soil and improve drainage.

          For more information on growing creeping phlox, please consult our growing guide.

          Reply
  15. Great article! What perennial ground cover could I plant (less than 3 inches tall) beneath my sedum and lavender shrubs. Something that is preferably white or light lavender in color? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Thank you, Aparna. You may try mother of thyme, aka creeping thyme, Thymus serphyllum. It has fragrant pink/purple flowers from June to September, cultural requirements compatible with sedum and lavender, and heights of 3 to 4 inches. This ground cover tolerates part shade, so as long as the existing plants do not create dense shade, it just may work out for you.

      Reply
  16. Hello. I was hoping someone could help tell me what this may be. I don’t know if it’s a plant or a weed. I put seeds down last fall, I can’t remember the name of them, if this is the product of those seed then I’d like to get more! Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Hi Andrea –

      Thank you for the excellent photos. It looks like sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima, to me. Please send more photos when it blooms to be sure.

      Reply
  17. Picture of deadnettle – lamium maculatum you have in this article. Could you please link me with a vendor where i can purchase that. All I can find is the Ghost, Purple, Beacon Silver, and Pewter. Those deadnettles are not those and I’m just captivated by them. Thank you..

    Reply
  18. I am looking for the following ground covers to plant in my front yard…They are listed by preference..

    1. Avalanche Arenaria Small White Flower
    2. Periwinkle Small White Flower
    3. Canadian Anemone Small White Flower

    Where can I purchase them either On-line or at a Garden Center/Nursery…Need information to contact link or telephone number…Thank you

    Reply
    • Thanks for your question, Gary! All of these are lovely flowering ground covers.

      Arenaria montana ‘Avalanche’ is a cultivar of mountain sandwort, and seeds are available via Amazon.

      Several varieties of white periwinkle exist, including ‘Alba,’ ‘White,’ ‘Alboplena’ and ‘Jekyll’s White.’ Try this variety, which is available in six-packs of small plants from the Home Depot.

      Canada anemone (Anemone canadense or sometimes aka Anemonastrum canadense) seeds are also available via Amazon.

      However, most of these are currently out of season. We recommend that you check these sources and your local nurseries again in advance of the spring planting season.

      Reply
  19. I am interested in knowing what is the name of the flower that is 6 inches tall, maybe it’s a ground cover. The flowers I saw have a purple shade. People trimmed them back in November.

    Reply
  20. We are in central NC, (zone 4.7 and clay soil.) We have just installed a picket fence in our front yard.

    There’s about 3 feet between the fence and the cement curb on our residential street. Unfortunately it slopes almost 6 inches from street to fence.

    We are planning to plant some climbing roses ( either Jacob’s Coat or Blaze) on the back of the fence to train through the pickets.

    Could you recommend some flowering ground cover for that oddly-sloped strip of clay soil? It’s on the south side of the house, so almost full sun.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hello Bill –
      Thank you for sharing this photo of your lovely home and landscape.
      A flowering ground cover you may like is a native plant, pussy toes. Red pussy toes, Antennaria dioica ‘Rubra’, is particularly attractive with silver-green leaves and pink fuzzy flowers in the spring. When in bloom, it reaches a maximum height of about six inches. This plant is suited to your zone, full sun, and clay soil, provided it drains well.

      Reply

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