Essential Guidelines for Successfully Planting Ground Cover: What to Do and What to Avoid


Planting groundcovers can bring a variety of benefits to your landscaping. They can help prevent erosion, create a protective barrier, and add texture and beauty to your outdoor space. However, it is essential to choose and grow groundcovers suitable for your specific site.

First and foremost, consider the growing conditions of your planting area. Some groundcovers thrive in full sun, while others prefer shady areas or are shade-tolerant. Be mindful of the foliage and root spread of larger trees, as they can compete for water and nutrients.

When selecting groundcovers, don’t forget to consider the maintenance level you are willing to commit to. Some species require little maintenance, while others need regular pruning, watering, and care. Choose groundcovers that are suited for your maintenance preferences and the specific needs of your site.

Before planting, don’t skip the necessary preparation. Clear the area of any debris or weeds and amend the soil if needed. Properly preparing the soil will help ensure healthy growth and provide a good foundation for your groundcovers.

In the spring, after the last frost, is the best time to plant groundcovers. Be sure to space them properly to allow for growth and avoid overcrowding. By planting varieties with different bloom times, you can have beautiful groundcover throughout the year.

Consider using groundcovers strategically in areas where you want to minimize lawn maintenance or where grass has trouble growing. They can be particularly useful in narrow pockets of land between larger landscaping beds or next to walkways.

Some popular groundcovers include liriope, phlox, juniper, and various grasses. These plants can offer both beauty and functionality, but it is crucial to research their growth habits and characteristics before planting. Avoid unintentionally choosing groundcovers that may become invasive or aggressive in your area.

In arid or dry regions, choose groundcovers that are drought-tolerant and can survive with minimal watering. In areas with more rainfall, consider using groundcovers that can absorb excess water and prevent soil erosion.

In summary, the dos of planting groundcovers include choosing suitable species for your site, preparing the soil properly, spacing the plants correctly, and considering maintenance needs. On the other hand, the don’ts include forgetting about the growing conditions, unintentionally introducing invasive species, and skipping the necessary site preparation. By following these dos and don’ts, you can create beautiful, low-maintenance groundcover areas that enhance the overall aesthetic and functionality of your outdoor space.

What Is a Ground Cover Plant

A ground cover plant is a low-growing plant that is used to cover large areas of soil. It is typically used in landscaping to provide color, texture, and protection to the ground. Ground cover plants come in various species and varieties, including grasses, succulents, and shade-tolerant plants. They can be planted in between trees or next to larger plants to fill in empty spaces and create a cohesive design.

Ground cover plants have several functions. They help to prevent soil erosion by holding the soil in place, especially in high-traffic areas. They also act as a protective layer, keeping the soil temperature cool in hot weather and insulating it in colder months. Ground cover plants are often chosen for their ability to suppress weed growth, as they create a dense carpet that chokes out unwanted plants.

When planting ground cover, it is important to choose the right species for your specific site. Consider factors such as the climate, soil type, and amount of sunlight the area receives. Some ground cover plants are more suitable for arid regions, while others thrive in shade or moist environments. It is important to properly prepare the site before planting, removing any debris or stubborn weeds that could interfere with the growth of the ground cover.

  • An example of a popular ground cover plant is phlox, which is known for its colorful flowers and ability to grow in various soil types.
  • Another commonly used ground cover plant is juniper, which is drought-tolerant and requires low maintenance.

Using ground cover plants in your landscaping design can offer numerous benefits. They can create a visually appealing landscape, add texture and color, and provide a protective covering to the soil. Additionally, ground cover plants help to reduce soil erosion and maintain soil moisture, which is especially important in arid climates.

When planting ground cover, it is essential to follow proper planting techniques to ensure successful growth. This includes preparing the soil, providing adequate water, and spacing the plants properly. Ground cover plants should be planted close enough to cover the area but not too densely, as this can inhibit their growth. Regular maintenance, such as regular watering, fertilizing, and pruning, is also necessary to keep your ground cover plants healthy and thriving.

In summary, ground cover plants are a valuable addition to any landscaping project. They offer a multitude of benefits, including erosion control, weed suppression, and visual appeal. By selecting the appropriate species for your climate and properly planting and maintaining them, you can create a beautiful and functional ground cover that won’t unintentionally become a major headache.

Ground Cover for Landscape

When it comes to landscaping, using ground cover is a great way to add color, texture, and interest to your outdoor space. Ground covers are low-growing plants that spread and fill in the gaps between larger plantings, creating a cohesive and visually appealing design. They also work well in high-traffic areas, slopes, and bed edges, where grass may not grow as well.

One of the dos of planting ground cover is to prepare the area beforehand. Clear any weeds or invasive species from the space, and make sure the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. This will give the ground cover the best environment to grow and thrive.

Another do is to strategically plant ground cover in pockets or between larger plants. This not only protects the plants from weeds and erosion but also provides a uniform and attractive look to the landscape. Using a protective barrier, such as landscape fabric or mulch, can also help to suppress weed growth and conserve moisture for the ground cover.

When selecting ground cover for your landscape, it is important to choose species that will work well in your specific growing zone. Consider factors such as sun exposure, soil type, and water requirements. Some common ground cover options include liriope, juniper, and various grasses. Succulents are also a popular choice for their low maintenance nature and unique texture.

Ground Cover Dos:

  • Prepare the area before planting
  • Strategically plant ground cover in pockets or between larger plants
  • Choose species suitable for your growing zone
  • Consider factors such as sun exposure, soil type, and water requirements
  • Use a protective barrier to suppress weed growth and conserve moisture

Ground Cover Don’ts:

  • Plant invasive species that can overtake your landscape
  • Skip the preparation phase and plant directly into existing weeds or grass
  • Expect ground cover to completely eradicate weed growth
  • Overlook the cost and maintenance requirements of certain ground cover species

In conclusion, using ground cover in your landscape can bring a lot of benefits, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. By following the dos and avoiding the don’ts, you can create a beautiful and well-designed outdoor space that is both low-maintenance and visually appealing.

Plants Used for Ground Cover

When it comes to selecting plants for ground cover, it’s important to choose varieties that are suitable for the specific area and its intended function. Some plants are more suitable for high-traffic areas, while others are better at creating a barrier against stubborn weeds. Before planting, consider the zone in which you live, as different plants will grow better in different climates.


Grasses are a popular choice for ground cover due to their ability to grow quickly and their low maintenance requirements. They can be used between other plants or as an alternative to a traditional lawn. Grasses also help prevent erosion, provide texture and color to your landscaping, and are resistant to pests and diseases.


Succulents are another great option for ground cover, especially in areas where water use is a concern. They are drought-tolerant and require little watering once established. Succulents add interest to your landscape with their unique shapes and textures and are well-suited for narrow spaces.

Other groundcovers to consider are shade-tolerant varieties, which work well in areas with limited sunlight, and plants that are prone to growing in low-light conditions, such as ferns. These can be used to create a lush and green ground cover in shaded areas.

When selecting ground covers, it’s important to properly prepare the soil before planting. Remove any debris or weeds from the area, and consider using a weed barrier to prevent unwanted growth. Introducing a layer of compost or mulch can also help to enrich the soil and provide nutrients for the plants.

It’s also important to note that some groundcovers can become invasive if not properly managed. Before planting, research the specific plant and its growth habits to ensure that it will not become a problem in your area.

In conclusion, selecting the right plants for ground cover can make a big difference in the overall look and function of your landscaping. Don’t skimp on the proper prep work, and choose plants that are suitable for your specific needs and the conditions of your space. With the right selection and care, groundcovers can be a cost-effective and attractive alternative to traditional grass.

The Dos and Don’ts of Planting Ground Cover

When it comes to introducing ground covers into your landscaping design, there are certain dos and don’ts to keep in mind to ensure a beautiful and properly maintained ground cover. Whether you are using ground covers to fill in bare spots or as an alternative to high-maintenance grass, following these guidelines will help you create a stunning and low-maintenance landscape.

Do: Pre-Planting Preparation

Before planting ground covers, it is important to prepare the site properly. Remove any debris, weeds, or stubborn grasses from the area. By doing so, you create a clean and weed-free space for your ground covers to thrive.

Do: Selecting the Right Ground Cover Species

When selecting ground cover species, choose those that are well-suited for your region and site conditions. Consider factors such as the amount of sun or shade the area receives, the soil type, and the moisture level. Opt for low-maintenance and shade-tolerant species like liriope, juniper, or succulents, depending on your specific needs and preferences.

Do: Properly Plant the Ground Covers

When planting ground covers, make sure to plant them at the right depth. Dig a hole that is deep enough to accommodate the root ball and place the ground cover in the hole. Then, backfill with soil, firming it gently around the plant. Water the newly planted ground cover thoroughly to promote proper root establishment.

Do: Use a Protective Barrier

Using a protective barrier between your ground cover and any high-traffic areas or invasive grasses can help keep your ground cover looking its best. This barrier can be a physical one, like landscaping fabric or plastic edging, or a barrier made of herbicides that prevent weed growth.

Don’t: Skimp on Maintenance

Ground covers do require some maintenance to keep them looking their best and to prevent them from becoming invasive. Regularly check for weeds and remove them promptly. In addition, prune and trim any overgrowth to maintain a neat and tidy appearance.

Don’t: Forget to Water

Even though ground covers are generally more drought-tolerant than grass, they still require regular watering, especially during the establishment phase. Water deeply and thoroughly, making sure the water reaches the roots. Depending on the species and climate conditions, watering once or twice a week should be sufficient.

Don’t: Skip Pre-Planting Research

Before selecting and planting any ground cover, it is important to do your research. Understand the growth habits, maintenance requirements, and potential invasiveness of the ground cover you choose. This will help you make an informed decision and avoid any unwanted consequences down the road.

Don’t: Cover a Major Portion of Your Lawn

While ground covers can be a great alternative to high-maintenance grass, it is important not to cover a major portion of your lawn with them. Ground covers are meant to be used in smaller areas or as accents between other landscape features. Using them sparingly will ensure a balanced and visually appealing landscape.

By following these dos and don’ts of planting ground cover, you can create a beautiful and functional landscape that is both visually pleasing and low-maintenance. Select the right ground cover varieties, prepare the site properly, and provide the necessary care and maintenance to enjoy the benefits of ground covers in your yard.

✿ Read More: Gardening Tips and Advice.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.