Low-Maintenance Groundcover Plants

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Low-Maintenance Groundcover Plants

Creeping phlox

Short Answer: Low-maintenance groundcover plants that enhance any yard include Creeping Thyme, Ajuga (Bugleweed), Vinca Minor (Periwinkle), Sedum (Stonecrop), Pachysandra, and Irish Moss. These groundcovers are hardy, require minimal upkeep, and provide attractive foliage or flowers, making them great choices for a variety of landscapes.


A groundcover plant offers an easy solution for adding color to bare spots under large trees, sunny slopes, and other challenging areas. In addition, these plants act like living mulch, protecting soil from erosion and drought. The following perennial groundcovers work well in various situations without requiring much care.

Armeria

A charming plant not seen enough in gardens, Armeria (Armeria maritima) offers low, grassy foliage and clusters of bright pink or white flowers in late spring and early summer. Look for ‘Rubrifolia’, which provides burgundy-tinged foliage for extra interest.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 8 inches tall

Zones: 3-9

Barren Strawberry

Native to eastern North America, barren strawberries (Waldsteinia fragarioides) form dense, spreading clumps of strawberry-like foliage. In spring, they produce small yellow flowers, followed by inedible fruit.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 1 foot tall

Zones: 4-8

Bloody Cranesbill

Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) gets its colorful name from the bright red its foliage takes on in fall. Many varieties are available in flower colors of blue and purple that bloom in May and June, then sporadically through the rest of the growing season. This low-maintenance groundcover plant spreads slowly but eventually forms broad swaths if you let it.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in well-drained soil

Size: 1 foot tall

Zones: 4-8

Brass Buttons

An evergreen groundcover plant in warmer areas, brass buttons (Leptinella squalida) offers fern-like, fine-textured foliage and button-shaped, yellowish flowers. ‘Platt’s Black’ variety has dark leaves that look especially striking surrounding lighter plants or landscaping features like boulders. Plus, it can tolerate a little foot traffic, so it’s a good choice between stepping stones as long as it receives steady moisture.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 6 inches tall

Zones: 4-7

Bunchberry

A native groundcover that does well in the shade, bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) features cute little white flowers in spring, followed by bright red fruits in fall. The leaves also develop festive shades of bronzy purple in autumn.

Growing Conditions: Full shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 6 inches tall

Zones: 2-7

Crested Iris

Sometimes known as woodland iris, crested iris (Iris cristata) is a native of eastern North America and can be found in various forms and patterns in blue and white. Once established, they are carefree, cheery groundcovers for a shady woodland garden.

Growing Conditions: Part to full shade in moist, well-drained soil

Size: 9 inches tall

Zones: 3-9

Dianthus

Dianthus, also called pinks, are members of the carnation family, and the flowers have a pleasant clove-like fragrance. The plants, which grow in low, dense mats that spread slowly, are quite drought-tolerant after establishing them. There are many pretty varieties to choose from, and some stay lower than others. One popular choice is ‘Firewitch’, which has bright pink blooms and stays about 8 inches tall.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: up to 30 inches tall

Zones: 3-8

Epimedium

Dry shade can be a tricky landscaping problem. Thankfully, epimedium (Epimedium grandiflorum) thrives in these conditions. There are many excellent varieties, but a few beautiful ones include ‘Pierre’s Purple,’ ‘Sulphureum,’ and ‘Lilafee.’

Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and well-drained soil

Size: 8 inches tall

Zones: 3-9

European Ginger

European ginger (Asarum europaeum) is prized for its glossy, heart-shaped leaves and vigorous growth. While not invasive, this groundcover plant wastes no time forming a sizable colony in your landscape. A native alternative is wild ginger (Asarum canadense), which has heart-shaped leaves but isn’t as glossy.

Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 4 inches tall

Zones: 4-8

Sedum

Low-growing sedums may not produce the big bang of color like their taller cousins, but it’s hard to go wrong with this ultra-low-maintenance, drought-tolerant groundcover plant for sunny spots. Two of the hardest creeping varieties are gold moss stonecrop (Sedum acre) and Sedum kamtschaticum (shown here).

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 3 inches tall

Zones: 4-9

Hens-and-Chicks

A perfect companion for sedums, hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum spp.) is an ideal succulent for the rock garden, stone wall, or crevice in the sidewalk. Hens-and-chicks is one of the most low-maintenance groundcovers. Just plant and enjoy.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 4 inches tall

Zones: 3-9

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is an easy-to-grow option when you need a ground cover for shade. It will even add a pleasant fragrance to your yard, from the leaves (which smell like fresh hay when mown or crushed) and the small white flowers that appear in spring.

This spreading perennial isn’t prone to invasiveness. Still, it can get a little exuberant when grown in optimal conditions with lots of moisture, so keep an eye on it.

Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 12 inches tall

Zones: 4-8

Lady’s Mantle

This low-maintenance perennial is a cottage garden favorite that offers a unique treat: Fine hairs on the scalloped leaves sparkle with water droplets in the early morning light. Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) blooms in late spring to early summer, producing clusters of tiny chartreuse blooms. This classy ground cover can seed itself around, so make sure to deadhead the flowers to keep your planting more contained.

Growing Conditions: Sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 18 inches tall

Zones: 4-7

Lamium

Also known as deadnettle, Lamium (Lamium maculatum) is a reliable, easy-care ground cover for shade. Most will bloom through the summer, producing pink, purple, or white flower clusters. Even when not in bloom, Lamium has eye-catching, silver-marked green foliage that brightens up shady corners. This low-maintenance perennial makes a beautiful alternative to a struggling lawn. However, it is invasive in some areas of the country so check before planting.

Growing Conditions: Full shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: 8 inches tall

Zones: 4-8

Creeping Phlox

Creeping phlox

A slow-growing, sprawling perennial, creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) forms dense mats of narrow green leaves. This easy-care groundcover puts on an eye-catching show in spring when it becomes covered in pink, white, purple, red, and bicolor flowers. Perfect for edging sidewalks and walkways, creeping phlox won’t become a rowdy neighbor to the tulips, daffodils, and other spring bulbs that look charming planted with it.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 8 inches tall

Zones: 3-9

Thyme

Enjoy the fresh smell of thyme (Thymus serpyllum) underfoot in your garden. This evergreen groundcover offers fragrant foliage and pink or white flowers in spring or summer.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 10 inches tall

Zones: 4-9

Golden Moneywort

Also called creeping Jenny, golden moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) is a fast-growing groundcover that forms mats of tiny chartreuse leaves along thin, sprawling stems. The coloring will look brightest in full sun, but it grows well in part shade, too.

Just beware, this perennial can quickly get out of hand, so it’s best grown where it can be controlled, such as in a bed bordered on all sides by concrete or other hardscaping. It’s considered invasive in some regions of the country, so check if it’s a problem where you live before planting.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist soil

Size: 3 inches tall

Zones: 3-7

Showy Evening Primrose

Native to the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico, showy evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) makes an excellent heat-, drought- and humidity-tolerant groundcover. It will reward you in midsummer with cuplike pink flowers that open in the evening or on cloudy days. While it’s easy to grow, it can spread aggressively in ideal conditions, so make sure it has room to ramble.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 2 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

Soapwort

Soapwort (Saponaria x lempergii ) is a low-maintenance perennial that should be grown in more gardens. It makes a pretty, mat-forming groundcover. It produces so many starry pink flowers in summer that the green foliage is almost completely covered. ‘Max Frei’ is a variety with an extra long bloom time, running into fall.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 1 foot tall

Zones: 3-7

Prostrate Veronica

This perennial is the groundcover version of the taller, well-known veronica (Veronica prostrata). Its pretty blue spring flowers contrast the golden foliage of cultivars such as ‘Trehane’ and ‘Goldwell.’

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 1 foot tall

Zones: 4-8

Japanese Forest grass

Ornamental grasses are a beautiful way to add texture to the landscape. Low-growing forms make excellent groundcovers; Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) is one of the best. It comes in glowing shades of gold and chartreuse and forms flowing mounds that hug the ground.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade in moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 2 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

Leadwort

Leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is an excellent low-maintenance groundcover for putting on a late-season show. Leadwort begins blooming in late summer with beautiful, electric-blue flowers and continues until the first frost. Then, the leaves turn a gorgeous shade of burgundy red in fall.

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 12 inches tall

Zones: 5-9

Mondo Grass

Popular in Southern gardens, mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) is a tough, drought-tolerant groundcover plant that doesn’t mind heat and humidity. It forms clumps of strappy, grass-like green foliage; dark-leaf varieties add a moody hue to the garden and create pleasing contrasts with plants with paler foliage. Despite its appearance and name, mondo grass is more closely related to lilies. This plant is considered invasive in some areas of the country, so check before planting it.

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 24 inches tall, depending on variety

Zones: 6-10

Snow-in-Summer

Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) has silvery evergreen foliage, but the show kicks into high gear when its billowing mounds of crystalline white flowers appear in spring. This drought-tolerant groundcover plant makes a stunning accent to a stone wall, patio, or rock garden. Snow-in-summer can handle a range of soil types as well.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: 3 inches tall

Zones: 3-7

Lamb’s Ear

Kids especially love the fuzzy leaves of this classic perennial. Soft and silvery, lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) forms low-growing mounds. Equally fuzzy spikes of purple to pink flowers appear in spring and summer. If you don’t want this plant to self-seed, deadhead the flowers. Good cultivars to look for include ‘Cotton Ball,’ ‘Big Ears,’ and ‘Primrose Heron.’

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 18 inches tall

Zones: 4-7

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in the USA

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
Northeast (e.g., New York, Massachusetts)Rose, Purple Lilac, Mountain LaurelSugar Maple, American Elm, White Pine
Southeast (e.g., Florida, Georgia)Orange Blossom, Cherokee Rose, Southern MagnoliaLive Oak, Spanish Moss, Saw Palmetto
Midwest (e.g., Ohio, Illinois)Carnation, Violet, Purple ConeflowerBur Oak, Prairie Grasses, Wild Bergamot
Southwest (e.g., Texas, Arizona)Bluebonnet, Saguaro Cactus Flower, Indian PaintbrushJoshua Tree, Agave, Mesquite
West (e.g., California, Washington)California Poppy, Coast Rhododendron, BitterrootGiant Sequoia, Redwood, Manzanita
Rocky Mountain (e.g., Colorado, Montana)Rocky Mountain Columbine, Bitterroot, Indian PaintbrushBlue Spruce, Aspen, Sagebrush
Great Plains (e.g., Kansas, Nebraska)Sunflower, Goldenrod, Purple ConeflowerCottonwood, Bluestem Grasses, Buffalo Grass
Pacific Northwest (e.g., Oregon, Alaska)Oregon Grape, Forget-me-not, Pacific RhododendronDouglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Ferns

This table includes the most popular flowers and plants in the USA by region, which considers a range of botanical species, including native and widely cultivated varieties.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in Australia

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
New South WalesWaratah, Bottlebrush, Flannel FlowerEucalyptus, Acacia, Banksia
VictoriaCommon Heath, Waxflower, Pink HeathMountain Ash, Silver Wattle, Victorian Blue Gum
QueenslandCooktown Orchid, Golden Penda, Umbrella Tree FlowerMoreton Bay Fig, Macadamia Nut, Queensland Bottle Tree
South AustraliaSturt's Desert Pea, Kangaroo Paw, Eucalyptus BlossomAdelaide Blue Gum, South Australian Blue Gum, Saltbush
Western AustraliaRed and Green Kangaroo Paw, Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Swan River DaisyJarrah, Marri, Karri
TasmaniaTasmanian Blue Gum, Leatherwood Flower, Tasmanian WaratahHuon Pine, Tasmanian Oak, Myrtle Beech
Northern TerritorySturt's Desert Rose, Frangipani, Desert RoseBoab, Gidgee, Spinifex
Australian Capital TerritoryRoyal Bluebell, Australian Daisy, CorreaSnow Gum, River Red Gum, Black Mountain

This table offers a basic overview of popular flowers and plants in each Australian region, focusing on a combination of state flowers, native species, and other characteristic plants. It's important to note that specific species' popularity and prevalence can vary. This table is a simplified representation. Consulting local botanical gardens or regional horticultural societies in Australia would be ideal for more detailed and accurate information.

Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for today.com magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.