Ground Covers for Difficult Sites


  • David S. McKenzie, 1989, Complete Manual of Perennial Ground Covers, Prentice Hall. ISBN-0-13-162058-4.
  • Allen Lacy, 1993, Gardening with Groundcovers and Vines, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-016913-3.
  • Allan M. Armitage, 1989, Herbaceous Perennial Plants, Varsity Press, ISBN 0-942375-00.

Ground covers are a great choice to plant where grasses won’t grow because of too much shade. Areas too narrow for shrubs or difficult to mow are perfect for these low-growing plants. Many need very little water. Their wide-spreading habits will cover large areas in an attractive green foliage. Some groundcovers even give you attractive blooms in addition to their low-maintenance needs.

Botanical Name Common Name Site Conditions

Hedera helix English Ivy Shade, dry or moist
‘Glacier’, behaved controllable form
Juniperus spp. Spreading Juniper Sun, shade, dry
Liriope spicata Creeping Border Grass Sun, shade, dry
Liriope muscaria Mondo Grass Sun, shade
Pachysandra terminalis Japanese Spurge Shade, moist or dry
‘Silver Edge’ variety
Vinca Minor periwinkle Shade, moist or dry
‘Aureovariegata’, behaved form

Full Sun Lovers

Achillea spp Yarrow Dry
Ajuga reptans Carpet bugle Wet or dry
Carex Var. Jap. Sweetflag Wet
Delosperma cooperi Handy Ice Plant Dry
Dianthus spp. Pinks Dry
Euonymus fortunei Winter creeper Moist or dry
Gelsemium sempervirens Carolina Jessamine Dry
Hypericum calycinum St. Johnswort Dry
Iberis sempervirens Evergreen Candytuft Dry
Ipomoea ‘Blackie’ (annual) Blackie Sweetpotato Dry
Lantana spp. Lantana Dry
Liriope muscaria variegata Variegated Liriope Moist or dry
Phlox subulata Thrift Creeping Phlox Dry
Rosmarinus officinals Rosemary Dry
Sedum spp. Sedum Dry
Trachelospermum asiaticum Asiatic Jasmine Dry
Verena spp. Verbena Dry

Shade and Partial Shade Lovers

Ajuga reptans Carpet Bugle Moist or dry
Ardesia crenata Coralberry Moist or dry
Carex morrowii Var. Jap. Sweetflag Wet
Cephalotaxus Japanese Plum Yew Dry
Chrysogonum virginanum Green and Gold Moist or dry
Convallaria majalis Lily of the Valley Dry
Euonymus fortunei Wintercreeper Mosit or dry
Gelsemium sempervirens Carolina Jessamine Dry
Hedera colchica Persian Ivy Moist
Hemerocallis spp. Daylily Moist or dry
Hypericum calycinum St. Johnswort Dry
Iberis sempervirens Evergreen Candytuff Dry
Liriope muscaria Border Grass Moist or dry
Nandina domestica cvs. Dwarf Nandina Moist or dry
Ophiopogon japonicus Mondo Grass Moist
Pachysandra terminalis Japanese Spurge Moist or dry
Pittosporum tobira ‘Wheeler’s’ Dry
Trachelospermum asiaticum Asiatic Jasmine Dry
Vinca major Big Leaf Periwinkle Moist or dry


Center Publication Number: 19

David McKenzie
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