The Best Year-Round Ground Covers

The ideal year-round ground cover must cover the dirt well, require little to no maintenance, have evergreen foliage and should not spread where you do not want it. Colorful blooms or fruit are a bonus, but they should not add much to how much care is needed. Search for ground covers suitable to the conditions in your garden. Many do well in shade, others in sunlight, and a few tolerate a mixture. Other variables to consider include how much water the plants need and also the preferred soil type.

Coniferous Evergreens

Conifers are tough plants, with needlelike or scalelike foliage that adapts them to adverse circumstances. Low-growing plants, like “Silver Mist” shore juniper (Juniperus conferta “Silver Mist”), provide dependable color and operation. Silvery-bluish new development turns into blue-green mature leaf that turns reddish-purple in winter. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9, “Blue Mist” grows 1 to 1 1/2 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet broad, tolerating sun and partial shade in addition to coastal problems. For an extremely flat, low profile, then consider “Mother Lode” creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis “Mother Lode”), that grows in USDA zones 3 through 9. Only 6 to 12 inches tall, the sun-loving ground cover disperses to 8 or 10 feet wide. Bright yellow summer and spring foliage changes to gold bronze in winter.

Fragrant Plants

Grow aromatic ground covers in locations where folks walk so they may enjoy the scent. Creeping pink thyme (Thymus praecox arcticus) unites low, mounding, dense growth with fragrant leaves and pink blossoms. It grows 1 to 2 feet tall and two to three feet wide in USDA zones 7 through 10. It prefers sun to partial shade and good drainage. Together with needlelike, strongly aromatic leaves, creeping rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis “Prostratus”) is a long-lived plant which grows 6 to 12 inches tall and has a trailing habit, capable of spilling over bed edges. Growing in USDA zones 8 through 10, this rosemary needs full sunlight.

Shade-Loving Plants

Shade-tolerant ground covers may often have rampant development. A non-invasive, bold-leaved ground cover plant, cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior), grows 1 to 2 feet tall and broad in USDA zones 7 through 11. Glossy, dark green, oval leaves grow in clumps, and the plant does well even in dense shade. A white and green variegated variety (Aspidistra elatior “Variegata”) brings another dimension to shady places. For interesting texture, consider holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum “Rochfordianum”), that grows in USDA zones 6 through 10. The fronds have stiff, dark green lustrous leaflets. In mild winter areas the fern is evergreen. It grows 2 to 3 feet tall and 18 inches wide.

Good Floral Displays

It is possible to mix an abundance of flowers using a low-maintenance, evergreen ground cover. In Mediterranean-style climates, star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) creates highly aromatic, white, pinwheel-shaped blooms from spring into summer. A vine which may be grown as a ground cover, it prefers sun to partial shade, with growth 1 to 2 feet tall in USDA zones 8 through 11. It keeps its leathery, dark green leaves year-round. For a wealth of vibrant roses on 30-inch-tall shrubs, the rose “Flower Carpet Amber” (Rosa x “NOA97400A”) performs from spring through autumn. Hardy in USDA zones 4 through 10, it’s peachy-pink, fragrant blooms and tolerates full sun, humidity and heat.

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