A wealth of groundcovers awaits anyone adventuresome enough to move beyond a mass planting of the big three (ivy, pachysandra and myrtle), and their alternatives.  Rather than planting a green groundcover backdrop, another option is combine several less aggressive groundcovers to create a tapestry of various forms, textures and colors. When a groundcover is properly situated in the soil and light conditions it prefers, it spreads most agreeably.  However, even the best groundcovers, such as sweet woodruff, often have to be controlled.


Most groundcovers that spread by stolons or underground stems can be controlled in gardens by installing edging.  An edging strip, such as landscape timbers or inconspicuous vinyl lawn borders sunk into the ground, will keep your groundcovers from trying to find out if the grass is really greener on the other side. The following lists contain a variety of groundcovers suitable for sunny areas as well as shady areas of the garden.  Most of the varieties listed are recommended to be planted anywhere from 1 to 2 feet apart for good coverage; although planting closer together will fill in the area faster.  After the initial planting, be sure to keep the plants well watered and mulched to keep them from drying out and to prevent unwanted weeds from taking over the planting.


Groundcovers for Shady Areas


Aegopodium – Snow on the Mountain


Ajuga Reptans – Bugleweed


Arenaria verna – Moss Sandwort


Asarum spp. – Wild Gingers


Astilbe chinensis – Dwarf Astilbe


Bergenia spp. – Heart Bergenia


Cerostigma plumbago – Leadwort


Chrysogonum spp. – Goldenstar


Convallaria majalis – Lily of the Valley


Epimedium spp. – Barrenwort


Euonymous fortunei – Wintercreeper


Ferns – (many varieties)


Galium odoratum – Sweet Woodruff


Gaultheria procumbens – Wintergreen


Hedera helix – English Ivy


Helleborous – Hellebore


Hosta spp. – Plaintain lily


Hypericum calycinum – St. John’s Wort


Iris cristata – Dwarf Crested Iris


Lamiastrium – Golden Archangel


Lamium – Spotted Dead Nettle


Liriope spp. – Lilyturf


Pachysandra spp. – Spurge


Phlox stolonifera – Creeping Phlox


Pulmonaria – Lungwort


Tiarella – Foamflower


Vinca minor – Periwinkle


Viola – Violets


Waldesteinia – Barren Strawberry


Groundcovers for Sunny Areas


Achillea tomentosa – Wooly Yarrow


Alchemilla mollis – Lady’s Mantle


Arabis spp. – Rock Cress


Armeria maritime – Sea Thrift


Artemesia spp. – Wormwood


Campanula carpatica – Bellflower


Cerastium tomentosum – Snow in Summer


Coreopsis spp. – Tickseed


Delosperma – Hardy Ice Plant


Dianthus spp. – Pinks


Euphorbia polychroma – Cushion Spruge


Festuca – Blue Fescue Grass


Fragaria – Alpine Strawberry


Geranium spp. – Hardy Cranesbill


Gypsophilia repens – Creeping Baby's Breath


Helianthemum – Rock Rose


Hemerocallis spp. – Daylilies


Houttuynia – Chameleon Plant


Iberis – Candytuft


Lavendula spp. – Lavender


Lysimachia nummularia – Moneywort


Nepeta spp. – Catmint


Oenothera spp. – Evening Primrose


Phlox subulata – Creeping Phlox


Sedum spp. – Stonecrop


Sempervivium – Hen’s and Chicks


Stachys lanata – Lamb’s Ear


Thymus – Thyme


Veronica spp. – Speedwell