Add these ground cover plants and flowers to your garden to fix your yard's trouble spots, whether it's grass that won't grow, erosion problems, or boring beds. For example, some have: Hedera helix Glacier, for example, is a cultivar with variegated leaves. The leaves of Golden Anniversary are green in the middle and yellow at the margins (a white stripe in the center adds a third color); flowers are lavender. Take a look at our top 10 best all-round ground covers and think about adding some of these very useful plants to your garden this summer. Back home, here’s a patch of Periwinkle between my front yard and a … Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series. You don’t often see these for sale in garden centers, but they do still get passed along from gardener to gardener, especially the seeds. It is an evergreen twining climber whose flowers are hummingbird and butterfly magnets. Grow it in shade in the South, and in full sun in the North. One individual plant looks harmless and charming, but it will spread by runners and quickly form a dense mat. There are several very attractive flowers in the evening primrose genus. Added benefits with Lenten rose are that it reseeds well and is vole-resistant. Such plants are usually evergreens or have densely twiggy growth. Common invasive ground covers (periwinkle, English ivy and goutweed) are found throughout various areas of North America. 2. Because this flowering vine can take dry shade, it's a problem solver: Many plants don't like such conditions. These bushes become 2 feet tall x 4 feet wide; they're slow growers. The species plant, Ajuga reptans (zones 3 to 10), is another invasive plant, so be sure to explore cultivar options here. Many native evergreen groundcovers, such as moss phlox (white flowers), are non-invasive natives. Need an alternative to grass under a shady tree? Cut the runner 1 inch from the ground with pruning shears. For partly to mostly shady sites, English ivy (Hedera helix), Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) and periwinkle (Vinca minor) are very popular plants. An easy-to-care for ground cover, there are a few varieties of thyme to consider. They prevent erosion and don’t need mowing or maintenance. Invasive Species Removal Description •English ivy (Hedera helix) is a non-native invasive evergreen climbing vine that covers and kills trees. I need a good low growing, low maintainance, non vining ground cover to plant under a circle of red tipped photinias in my back yard. Then gardeners began to catch on to the fact that this woody vine is invasive in many areas (ask your county extension to check if your area is one of them). It’s easy to see why gardeners are still tempted to grow them, but we have enough headaches trying to stay ahead of weeds. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a few innocent plants, to finally rid the area of this thug. Ground covers are not all bad news. It was one of the only trouble-free plants available in nurseries to get the job done. The plant prefers partial shade or full sun and well-draining moist soil. Or grow the Ivory Prince cultivar, which is the only kind with flowers that keep their heads up. Many of the new types of English ivy can be grouped by how the leaf differs from the species plant. Left on their own, they will take over. The fact that its flowers nod down to the ground makes it hard to see them; if possible, grow this ground cover on a landscaping berm or other elevated area so that you don't have to kneel on the earth to appreciate their beauty. Above: Native honeysuckles are not considered to be invasive like the Asiatic varieties. Cut away the ivy on the ground. It’s fleshy rhizomes reach out and over anything in its path, forming a thick mat of roots that are impossible to thoroughly fish out and remove. Both Vinca and Pachysandra are deer-resistant and well-suited to xeriscaping in the shade. While many gardeners who have succumbed to its charms, few would recommend it to others. The plants can't photosynthesize, they aren’t getting much water, and they are over-heated. In general, when you see the words “ground cover”, do some research before you welcome it into your garden. Juniperus squamata Blue Star isn't a creeping juniper, but it stays short (3 feet at maturity). It even grows well in shady sites, where you need splotches of white to brighten things up. Golden creeping thyme (Thymus X citriodorus "Aureus') looks dainty, but it's a tough and fast-growing ground cover. As with English ivy, the variegated cultivars tend to be less invasive; Burgundy Glow is one. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. A semi-evergreen, it grows in zones 3 to 9. Marie Iannotti is an author, photographer, and speaker with 27 years of experience as a Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator and Master Gardener. The formation of flower buds on Helleborus orientalis (zones 4 to 9) is a sure sign of … Some species are highly invasive and are listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales. Other species of Teucrium make excellent topiary plants. For example, some evergreen ground covers like full sun and are suited to xeriscaping, while others will tolerate shade or want more water. In tree canopies, the enormous weight of the Ivy will eventually topple each tree. They are looking for instant impact and fool themselves into thinking they will stay on top of keeping it in check. Cotoneasters are popular garden shrubs and come in a range of forms and varieties. This list of the best evergreen ground covers includes a variety of options for gardeners, from perennials all the way up to shrubs. If the excess is unwanted in the original planting area, divide them and spread the wealth to another spot in the yard. Where it is invasive, like in the Pacific Northwest, it will wipe out pretty much anything in its path, covering small trees, shrubs, and assorted vegetation, blocking sunlight and weakening them until it is the only thing left. One look at the white, umbel flowers, very much like Queen Anne’s Lace, and you can probably guess that it is a member of the carrot family. Updated October 17, 2020. Whereas Vinca has both nice leaves and pretty flowers, Pachysandra is just a foliage plant. GreenStrides: Great Native Ground Covers. Ground cover plants offer a low-maintenance alternative to the carpets of lawn to which we have become accustomed. Creeping junipers resist drought once established. Many plants are low-growing and spreading in habit and may be termed ground-cover, but the prime requisite of a good ground cover plant is to provide a rapid, dense cover, to suppress germination and development of weed seeds and to eliminate the need for weed control measures. This drought-tolerant plant is a perennial for full sun. This fall I decided to pull up all the English ivy (Hedera helix) in my yard, something I’d been meaning to do for 20 years.I was pushed into action by hordes of Asian tiger mosquitoes (they hide in it) but there were other reasons, too, and I thought I’d post the complete list in case others might be on the fence about this invasive, destructive, non-native weed. If you’ve already planted Bishop’s weed and regret it, your best chance of eradicating it is to exhaust it. But for landscapes where it's not invasive (or where having a strong ground cover for dry shade is important enough that you don't mind the extra maintenance in having to control it), creeping myrtle (USDA planting zones 4 to 8) can be a superb pick. They're evergreen in the South, semi-evergreen in the North. The Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) is a low-growing, low-maintenance sun-loving ground cover plant that produces stunning flowers every year.This hardy tiny plant has tall long creeping stems that provide good evergreen cover in your garden. In early summer it … Ajuga "Chocolate Chip" has gotten good reviews for being attractive, yet slow growing and fairly well behaved. Euonymus fortunei Moonshadow is a broadleaf evergreen shrub for zones 5 to 8. Native to Europe and Asia, these ground covers were introduced to North America as ornamental plants. For shady, moist spots, try Phlox stolonifera for weed suppression. Always match a plant's growing needs to its location when selecting plants. Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is native to the Eastern United States. Comfrey (Symphytum spp.) The one place English ivy is safe is as a houseplant, in a container. As it spreads, its roots from a dense mat, smothering out any nearby plants. If you're looking to grow something different from what your neighbors have, try Chocolate Drop, so called for its deliciously dark leaves. Other ground cover plants should be used where grass is difficult to grow or maintain.Unlike grass, most ground cover plants cannot be walked on. The candytufts are also drought-tolerant subshrubs that flower best in full sun. The bicolored pattern can be thought of as an inside-out version of the more popular Euonymus fortunei Emerald 'n' Gold (where the green is in the middle of the leaf and the brighter color on the edge). Variegated leaves are the trademark of these ornamental shrubs. No border, no matter how deep, is going to keep them in check and mowing just makes them shorter; they do not disappear. English ivy does not offer anything for wildlife or insects to munch on, so it will grow unchecked. Sundrops are biennial and Mexican evening primrose can be ephemeral, so you may think they have disappeared from your garden after flowering. Compounding the problem is the fact that these aggressive plants are still widely available for sale. Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens) is an excellent groundcover for shade. As a ground cover, the quick growth and dense cover shade out native plants and suppress their growth. January 7, 2018 3:58 pm. When planted in groups, heuchera works well as a ground cover or along garden edging. First things first: Protect yourself and your plants. Lamium maculatum Orchid Frost (zones 4 to 8) is another pretty ground cover for dry shade. In full-sun, dry areas, Phlox subulata forms a thick, pretty carpet that keeps weeds at bay. It’s true that these ubiquitous landscape plants make excellent evergreen groundcovers, … Grass is the best known ground cover, but grass is not suited to all locations. They perform best in full sun. Plants will spread over time. But, because it has a creeping form, it bridges the gap between subshrubs and the great majority of shrubs. The formation of flower buds on Helleborus orientalis (zones 4 to 9) is a sure sign of spring. These spread too, but not aggressively. English ivy (zones 4 to 9) was a popular evergreen ground cover for shade in the U.S. for a long time. The most common complaint is that it moves into the lawn and kills the grass. It can take over disturbed areas and is considered weedy in urban gardens and turf lawns. But remember, the flip side of the coin for so-called “invasive plants” is that they are vigorous growers, meaning that they tend to be successful at filling in an area. While the following 7 plants are often sold in garden centers, they are true garden thugs. There are places, like hillsides, where mat-forming plants are welcome. Bugleweed has pretty purple flowers and grows from ground-hugging rosettes. To do so, suit … Its leaves are needle-like, but it's valued much more for its flowers, which form a thick mat of color. Rest assured, the roots are not only alive and well, but the plants have probably also dropped seed. Native Ground Covers, Vines, and Herbaceous Perennials for Riparian Buffers in Northern New Jersey Watersheds. As invasive ground covers, these species thrive in disturbed areas and prefer shady or semi-shady areas. Its mat-forming habit, which is great for controlling. Like most Mediterranean herbs, it thrives in dry, well-drained soil. There’s no denying that the variegated form of Bishop’s Weed is an attractive plant. For good ground covering plants to replace your ground covering English ivy, try blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) or tussock sedge (Carex stricta). Read about the best flowering ground covers for your unique property, here on Gardener’s Path. They will survive in your compost heap. One of the most widely grown is Autumn Joy. It's signature quality is its grass-like blades, whose dark color makes it one of the truly black plants. Trace runners of the invasive ground cover one by one. Species include: Iberis sempervirens Purity is a good cultivar for moon gardens, as its flowers are a brilliant white. Evening primrose is not as hard to get rid of as some of the ground covers mentioned in this article, that spread by runners. In contrast with Vinca and Pachysandra, Phlox subulata is a ground cover for full sun. The Thymus citriodorus Archer's Gold cultivar is one. Although the flowers are hardly noticeable, it’s leaves are an eye-catching mix of red, cream, and green. This slow-growing shrub for sun (zones 4 to 8) is valued for its blue, awl-shaped, evergreen needles. Some types of creeping thyme (zones 5 to 8) are evergreen. That may sound nice for weed control, but it will eventually take over your garden plants, too. For the best display, grow masses of the plants on a hillside, where they will double as erosion-control plants. It may take a while, but eventually, they give up. Most are still trying to get it out of their gardens, decades after planting it. This is often exactly what you want out of a ground cover. There are several you can even walk on. A word of warning: these plants are popular pass along plants. Be vigilant. Red, pink, white, blue, bicolored, rose, lavender and purple are all possible flower colors for this early-spring bloomer. Best Salt-Tolerant Plants for Landscaping, 15 Best Zone 7 Plants to Put In Your Garden, 16 Silver Foliage Plants to Brighten Your Landscape. •As a ground cover, this ivy chokes out other plants, creating an “ivy desert” where nothing else can grow. Bishop’s weed also goes by the name goutweed (a mishmash of goat weed—goats will eat it) or Snow on the Mountain. Allium paradoxum and A. triquetrum; Arum italicum Creeping phlox is a classic perennial ground cover that's hardy in Zones 3-9. Although it looks delicate, phlox is extremely rugged, and it grows easily in shaded and full-sun areas. Although it's more often seen with blue flowers, the Alba cultivar of Vinca minor offers white blooms. Green-and-gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) This plant hugs the ground and is evergreen in our area. Both Autumn Joy and Chocolate Drop are upright plants; if you want a trailing plant to use as a ground cover, grow Angelina sedum. If it escapes into the wild, it can potentially blanket entire forests. It eventually becomes wider (5 feet at maturity) than it is tall. While it has not been designated as invasive everywhere, it is still widely known to damage the buildings and trees it climbs on and clings to. I use it to rapidly fill in gaps between stepping stones or rocks. You can still find bugleweed in garden centers and it is still a very popular ground cover in some areas. Yet very often gardeners will plant a fast-spreading ground cover without really giving thought to what it will do in the future. Trailing Periwinkle (Vinca minor) This ground cover plant yields beautiful periwinkle blue or violet … They add beauty to the landscape and at the same time help prevent soil erosion. But there are many other instances where the species makes itself too at home. Removing a donut-shaped mat of ivy from around the base of the tree is sometimes referred to as a "lifesaver" cut. There’s no denying that the variegated form of Bishop’s Weed is an … But you will never have just a little Bishop’s Weed. However, because of its self-sowing habit, you will find clusters of evening primrose popping up throughout your garden and yard. Do you have a slope that’s hard to mow? Now, however, we have available a wider selection of plants that can cover large areas of ground without the benefit of a … Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board. It can form dense carpet-like mats that displace other ground plant cover. Various cultivars offer different features; for example: There are a number of plants in the Sedum genus, a group of plants considered "succulents." If the English ivy vines are what you are looking for, you might consider Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) or trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans). Hedera, which we commonly refer to as English Ivy (pl. Juniperus horizontalis is classified as a shrub. Creeping Charlie, ground ivy or gill-over-the-ground (Glechoma hederacea) Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) was brought to the United States likely for food and medicinal reasons. It prefers its soil to be kept evenly moist but tolerates dry soil. It also creates lovely displays of yellow flowers in spring. Wall germander is a drought-tolerant, evergreen ground cover. Although an attractive plant, you may not want an entire yard of it. I know I do not want vinca, English Ivy, or other hard to maintain types. Bishop's Weed/Goutweed. Bishop’s weed was first listed as invasive way back in 1863, in Rhode Island, however, you will still see if for sale. Many have attractive foliage, as well as blue flowers. Your friends may mean well, but the reason they have extras to give away is that these plants are such rampant growers. The color will be best in full sun; water needs are moderate. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) Euphorbia cyparissias; Hypericum calycinum; Leptinella squalida; Periwinkle (Vinca major and V. minor) Pratia pedunculata; Rubus biflorus; Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) Yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) Bulbous plants. An evergreen ground cover plant is beneficial to your garden in two ways, each of which has significant value even when found separately on plants! If you can smother it, as described above with bugleweed, or use another technique to deal with plant thugs, you should have success killing it eventually. Those leaves can be either evergreen or semi-evergreen, depending on conditions. We certainly don’t need to invite trouble into our gardens. Ivies), is a family of around 20 species of evergreen perennial plants. While the odd topiary or trailing vine in a container is fine, use caution if you need to dispose of plants at the end of the season. Actually, the pinwheel-flowered periwinkle can take more shade than the bellflower but both are noninvasive and shallow-rooted, making them easy to control. Ivy has been used so long as an ornament on venerable old buildings that it’s understandable that people would think it’s benign. It's a flowering ground cover (pink) that doubles as a foliage plant, thanks to its silvery leaves edged in green. Two ground covers that come to mind for part-sun situations are dwarf periwinkle (Vinca minor) and Serbian bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana), both of which have blue flowers. Plants suited to use as ground covers that also bear evergreen leaves must then be considered some of the best plants for landscaping. With Teucrium chamaedrys (zones 5 to 9), we transition from perennials to subshrubs (plants with woody stems). There is also an attractive pink version (Oenothera speciosa) known commonly as showy evening primrose, Mexican primrose, or Showy Ladies, which blooms in the—you guessed it—evening. Perfect for low foot traffic areas, thyme is soft to walk on, looks great, and can help you keep the weeds down. Ground covers are low-growing plants that spread quickly to form a dense cover. David Beaulieu is a garden writer with nearly 20 years experience writing about landscaping and over 10 years experience working in nurseries. But that’s not always possible when it’s become intermingled with other plants. Follow the runner to the point where it emerges from the ground. It grows to only 2 or 3 inches high with tiny leaves about 14 inch wide and long. Any remaining root will simply form a new plant and continue spreading. This shade lover needs an average amount of water. For many years the quintessential American shade ground cover was ivy (Hedera helix and cvs.). Sundrop (Oenothera biennis L.). The bush displays some resistance to drought once established. Aureum has white leaves with golden margins; flowers are pink. Creeping thyme has fragrant leaves; the smell is released when you step on it, so tuck it between garden stepping stones to enjoy both the sight of a green carpet and the smell of an herbal fragrance as you stroll through your garden. Here's how to do it: Check the list of introduced, invasive, and noxious plants for your state, before you let one of these plants ​on the loose. If the tree is surrounded by a mat of ivy on the ground, you'll need to remove the ivy from the ground and control its growth so that it won't climb back up the tree. Whereas Autumn Joy has nice pink flowers, Chocolate Drop and Angelina are more often grown as foliage plants. By the way, evening primrose is no relation to the popular spring flowering primroses (Primula). About Ivy Screens (Hedera helix)Hedera helix Ivy screens (a non-invasive variety) are an innovative screening solution that mean you can enjoy the security of a long lasting fence with the aesthetic and environmental benefits of a hedge. On wooden siding the dense cover retains moisture, which causes fungus and decay, while the rootlets pry apart siding and eventually rip your outer walls apart. They cover the ground densely, keeping any other plants from gaining a foothold. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. The chameleon plant is a very rapid spreader. Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens (zones 6 to 9) is semi-evergreen with moderate water needs. Pachysandra terminalis (zones 4 to 8) is a classic broadleaf evergreen ground cover for shade and also tolerates dry shade. Most all sedums resist drought. Ground cover plants. Hedera helix (English ivy) English ivy is a vigorous growing vine that impacts all levels of disturbed … If you don’t want to be ripping them out for years to come, resist planting them in the first place. Lenten Rose. These last two plants are so vigorous, that they can only be recommended under the condition that non-invasive cultivars are selected. There are some promising new varieties with dark purple leaves, like Ajuga "Atropurpurea", bronze leave varieties, like "Gaiety", and some edged with white, such as "Silver Beauty". Add them to your vertical garden kit. It’s hard for a new gardener, and many experienced gardeners who should know better, to resist this plant. But its leaves are bigger, shinier, a brighter green, and fill in more densely, so the tradeoff can be worthwhile. Ground covers definitely have their place in the landscape, but they need room to roam. In some areas, plants like these go beyond aggressive and become invasive. But you should not plant bugleweed anywhere near your lawn or garden beds. Doone Valley grows to 5cm in height, has a feint lemon scent and features green and gold leaves with a purple flower. Protect yourself and your plants. Being only 1” to 2” (2 – 3 cm) tall, this is a perfect plant to give you a green cushion of foliage in large sunny areas. Fortunately, if you really like this vine and need a tough plant to fill in a shady spot, there is a workaround: Since it is mainly the traditional types that are invasive, select from among the numerous new cultivars that are much less vigorous growers. Cut it down as short as possible in the early spring and then cover the area with plastic. Unfortunately, it's invasive in some areas, so check around locally before buying it to avoid making a common landscaping mistake. The spot is mostly shady but in summer can get late afternoon to evening sun in spots. This plant is a great choice as an edging plant along walkways in sunny areas because it's a low-maintenance ground cover. So it can be an effective evergreen ground cover if grown in a mass. These are not the only troublesome ground covers, but they are some of the most popularly sold and grown. (Image by Jessie Keith) It’s time for American gardeners to move beyond Japanese spurge ( Pachysandra terminalis ), English ivy ( Hedera helix ), and periwinkle ( Vinca minor ). Houzz: Native Alternatives to English Ivy, Japanese Pachysandra and Periwinkle. has yellow flowers that only open during the day. Not only are they low-maintenance shrubs, but they also can save you work by holding back the soil on erosion-prone hillsides, thanks to their sturdy root systems. 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