Top 10 Colorful Ground Cover Plants for Your Garden
These easy-to-grow ground cover plants are perennials that will brighten your yard and garden for years to come.
I like to think of ground covers as the problem solvers of the garden. They’re attractive, they fill in where other plants won’t grow, and you can use them as alternatives to high-maintenance lawns. Best of all, just when you think your garden’s full, you can always tuck a ground cover between pavers, spilling out of a container or almost anywhere else.
It’s no wonder ground covers are popular, but with so many options available, how do you choose? I decided to pick 10 colorful favorites, but I couldn’t do it alone. I enlisted the help of commercial grower Frances Hopkins, whose line of ground covers is called Stepables. Together we decided on the best and brightest, choosing the top 10 cultivars sure to fire up your imagination and spice up your yard. Ready to cover some ground?
Golden Creeping Jenny
(Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’), Zones 3 to 8
Nickel-size golden leaves give this ground cover an unsurpassed ability to brighten boring spaces. Keep its roaming tendencies in check by planting it in poor soil under full sun and watering it sparingly. For maximum impact, use it as a spiller in containers, or let it tumble over a retaining wall.
Why we love it: When you need a fast creeper but don’t want the invasiveness of regular creeping Jenny, this variety makes a wonderfully manageable alternative, with a bright burst of color to boot.
Double Bird’s Foot Trefoil
(Lotus corniculatus ‘Plenus’), Zones 4 to 10
If you love sunrises and sunsets, you’ll love the colors of this ground cover. Above a tight green mat, orange buds unfurl into vibrant double yellow blooms. Watch it all summer and notice as the flowers slowly redden. Consider giving this plant a shot in a sunny container or as a mulch replacement around shrubs, and maintain control with edging placed 3 to 4 inches into the soil.
Why we love it: In addition to its fluttering shapes and irresistible colors, this trefoil is delightfully fragrant. Check out more of our favorite fragrant flowers.
(Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’), Zones 4 to 9
What’s more inviting than a lush chartreuse carpet? Starting in late spring, starry white blooms engulf this plush ground cover, adding to its quaint country charm. You’ll love it because it will fill the space nicely where a lot of plants won’t grow. For instance, it’s ideal between stepping-stones and in rock gardens.
Why we love it: If you like the soft look of a grass lawn but are ready for a low-maintenance alternative, this moss is your new best friend.
Red Creeping Thyme
(Thymus praecox ‘Coccineus’), Zones 4 to 10
Its flowers start the growing season in bright magenta, mellowing into old-fashioned shades of paler pink. Likewise, as fall approaches, the evergreen foliage puts on a show as it darkens to take on a burnished look. Give this thyme a whirl as a blushing lawn substitute or as a complementary creeper under your roses.
Why we love it: Tough, gutsy and aromatic, this ground cover handles almost any well-draining condition with ease. Got a hard-to-fill, sunny area? No problem. It could be time for this thyme to shine in your garden!
Snow in Summer
(Cerastium tomentosum), Zones 3 to 9
Cover a sunny, hard-to-mow bank or slope quickly with this fast-spreading silvery ground cover. True to its name, snow in summer provides a blizzard of delicate white flowers to blanket its fuzzy foliage starting in late spring.
Why we love it: It has a sophisticated charm with silver foliage, snowy blooms and velvety leaves. Check out our top 10 favorite white flowers.
Purple New Zealand Burr
(Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’), Zones 5 to 9
If you prefer ruby-red leaves, plant this in full sun. For dramatic amethyst foliage, plant it in shade. In summer, cream-colored flowers will emerge. Let the plant spill over retaining walls or form a carpet around taller plants. These are our favorite container foliage plants.
Why we love it: The colors are dramatic, intense and vivid. Don’t be surprised if passers-by stop to ask what it is.
(Viola labradorica), Zones 2 to 10
This woodland favorite puts on a spectacular show all season long. Bright lavender blooms emerge from dark green foliage with subtle hints of blue, purple and burgundy. For an amazing kickoff to the growing season, plant these violets over spring bulbs.
Why we love it: This pretty little violet is even hardier than it is handsome. So if you like easy-care, it’s perfect!
Alba Lamb’s Ear
(Stachys densiflora ‘Alba’), Zones 4 to 9
Glossy leaves simply pop under spiky white blooms that burst forth in summer. Always a gorgeous ground cover, this variety steals the spotlight as a border plant or when set against large rocks.
Why we love it: Color, pattern, texture, shape and sheen: Alba lamb’s ear has it all. This semi-evergreen, hard-to-kill ground cover is also deer- and rabbit-resistant.
(Veronica allionii), Zones 2 to 9
Like its larger cousins, this compact speedwell features chubby spikes that flower over an olive-green cushion of foliage. Because it’s a low grower, you’ll find it works wonderfully in feature spots like borders.
Why we love it: With tall blooms and low ground cover, this blue beauty offers a handsome show. Even better, butterflies love it as much as we do. Check out more summer nectar flowers that attract butterflies.
Coral Carpet Stonecrop
(Sedum album ‘Coral Carpet’), Zones 3 to 9
If you love fall’s changing colors, this succulent may be the ground cover of your dreams. Its beady leaves emerge bright orange, change to green for summer, and finish the growing season a lustrous coral. But that isn’t all—stressors like heat, cold and drought cause color changes, too. Plant it in a sunny spot where you can keep an eye on the show!
Why we love it: All the fun of a mood ring—and this drought-resistant marvel lets you forget your watering worries, too. Here’s more ways to conserve water in the garden.