What is a Groundcover?

A groundcover is any low-growing plant (less than an inch to up to four feet in height) that can form a dense soil cover to help control erosion and suppress the growth of weeds.

Why Groundcover?

•  Groundcovers help retain moisture in the soil, can reduce snow drifting in the winter and reduce glare and help purify and cool the environment during those sunny, hot months of the year.

•  In addition to all that hard work they do for the environment, groundcovers are low-maintenance but also gorgeous additions to the landscape, providing a chance to add lushness, color and texture to a setting.

•  They can be used to connect and unify different areas of a landscape and even can be used to cover or camouflage unsightly areas or structures, making them a rich source of material for landscape design.

While turfgrass is the most commonly used groundcover and is an exceptional choice for high-traffic areas of a landscape because it can withstand more footfalls and activity, not all turfgrasses are suited for problem areas, such as shady, dry or wet spots in a landscape.

Turfgrasses also can be expensive and time consuming to maintain.

But lots of other groundcovers are available to fill those difficult niches such as beneath trees or below shrubs and taller plants in a bed, across a hard-to-mow slope and also as edging material along paths or filler between steppingstones, pavers and along rock or concrete walls. 

A diverse array of plants can be used as groundcovers, ranging from ornamental grasses toannuals to small shrubs, and the Southern Living Plant Collection has some of the best options around.

Groundcovers we recommend:

1.  Cajun Blue scaevola, which has a compact, mounding growth habit that makes it wonderful as a blooming groundcover, is a great annual that produces blue clusters of blooms early in the season that last from late spring through summer.

2.  Stars & Stripes™ Pentas, another annual, offers lush, dark green and white variegated foliage and bright scarlet-red flower clusters with pink centers from spring until fall that are irresistible to hummingbirds.

3.  Azure Skies™ Heliotrope, which can be used as an annual but also as a perennial in more temperate climates, produces lavender flower clusters from spring through fall and is “bambi-proof.”

4.  Two verbenas—the blush pink Princess Blush and pale purple Princess Dark Lavender—have striking green foliage and provide blooms from spring through fall, making them stunning perennial groundcovers.  

5.  Ragin’ Cajun™ Ruellia is another excellent perennial groundcover choice with vivid red flowers from spring through summer.

6.  Cleopatra™ Liriope and Marc Anthony® Liriope are excellent ornamental grasses for groundcover needs.

Cleopatra offers elegant dark green foliage and lavender spikes of flowers in the summer. Marc Anthony is a one-of-a-kind liriope with foliage in three color hues—golden yellow and green as they emerge that become white and green as they mature—with lavender and pink bloom stalks in the summer.

So go on a groundcover treasure hunt and put these botanical riches to work in your landscape.