The Sensible Gardener

The right plant in the right location with the right conditions

Ground covers

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Ground covers include a variety of plants that grow close to the ground. This includes various vines, grasses and mosses, as well as some low growing shrubs and trees, such as winter creepers and creeping junipers. These plants have many advantages. They can be used to stabilize soils and protect from erosion and drought.

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'Nana' black spruce
Siberian squill
'Blue valley' monks hood
Periwinkle
Stonecrop
'Nana' black spruce
Siberian squill
'Blue valley' monks hood
Periwinkle
Stonecrop
'Nana' black spruce
Siberian squill

There are many reasons why turf grass is the best known and loved ground cover. Perhaps the main reason that makes turf grass so popular is the fact that you can walk on it, sit on it, even play on it. If you have the perfect conditions, it can be a good looking, practical, low maintenance option. You only need to mow it about once a week and it’s all done. But if your conditions are less than perfect, having a perfect lawn may prove to be quite a challenge. And weeding is a battle you will most likely need to start over and over every year. For more information on grass lawns and possible alternatives, we suggest that you have a look at the following pages: lawn landscaping and grass replacement.

For those places where grass is not the best option and for those spots where you want different shapes and colors, you should know there is a wide variety of plants to choose from. Some will grow in all conditions, but there are even some that will grow in the most difficult of conditions, such as places where there is too much water, sun, shade or wind.

Low growing shrubs and conifers can be a very attractive option. These usually grow up to 18 inches and look very good when growing over the edges of retaining walls or around flower beds. The following table contains various shrubs and conifers. Note that those plants that have a star next to their common name may have an invasive tendency.

Some vines, such as honeysuckles, which generally likes to creep up trees, can be used as a ground cover. Be aware that many vines can be quite invasive. The following table contains various vines and ivies.

Additional pages on ground covers

We have special pages dedicated to ground covers adapted to specific conditions.

Shade ground covers
Wet ground covers

Lists of lists

To make it simpler for you to find the ground covers that will fit your landscaping plan, we have created lists of ground covers based on various characteristics. Mosses can be quite interesting. They come in a variety of textures and colors. They do very well in rock gardens and on retaining walls.

Note that those plants that have a star next to their common name may be especially invasive.

Vines, grasses and mosses

Scientific name Common name
Clematis terniflora Sweet Autumn Clematis *
Clematis virginiana Virginsbower
Clematishybrids Hybrid Clematis
Hedera helix English Ivy *
Lonicera japonica Japanese Honeysuckle *
Lonicera sempervirens Trumpet Honeysuckle
Lonicera periclymenum Woodbine Honeysuckle
Lonicerax heckrottii Goldflame Honeysuckle
Lonicerax brownii Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle
Parthenocissus quinquefolia Virginia Creeper
Parthenocissus tricuspidata Boston Ivy *
Polygonum aubertii Silver Lace Vine *

Low growing shrubs and trees

Scientific name Common name
Akebia quinata Fiveleaf Akebia
Andromeda polifolia Bog-rosemary
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry
Comptonia peregrina Sweetfern
Cornus canadensis Bunchberry
Cotoneaster apiculatus Cranberry Cotoneaster
Cotoneaster dammeri Bearberry Cotoneaster
Cotoneaster horizontalis Rockspray Cotoneaster
Daphne cneorum Rose Daphne
Epigaea repens Trailing Arbutus
Erica carnea Spring Heath
Euonymus fortunei Wintercreeper Euonymus *
Forsythia viridissima Bronx Greenstem Forsythia
Gaultheria procumbens Creeping Wintergreen
Gaylussacia brachycera Box Huckleberry
Genista tinctoria Common Woadwaxen
Genista pilosa Silkyleaf Woadwaxen
Iberis sempervirens Candytuft
Juniperus conferta Shore Juniper
Juniperus horizontalis Creeping Juniper
Juniperus procumbens Japgarden Juniper
Juniperus sabina Savin Juniper
Juniperus squamata Singleseed Juniper
Leiophyllum buxifolium Box Sandmyrtle
Microbiota decussata Russian Arborvitae
Myrica gale Sweetgale
Pachysandra terminalis Japanese Pachysandra
Pachysandra procumbens Allegheny Pachysandra
Paxistima canbyi Canby Paxistima
Stephandra incisa Cutleaf Stephandra
Thymusserpyllum Mother of Thyme
Vaccinium angustifolium Lowbush Blueberry
Vaccinium macrocarpon American Cranberry
Vaccinium vitis-idaea Lingonberry
Vinca minor Common Periwinkle *
Xanthorhiza simplicissima Yellowroot

Have you considered all the options available to you? If not, then have a look at our Landscaping plants page.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the comment. The issue is now fixed.
    Cheers,
    Nicolas

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