An evergreen ground cover plant is a fun and unique way to add interest all year-round, especially if you live in cooler climates where most of your plants die off in the fall. They can help to lower your yard maintenance, suppress weeds, and they fight erosion to help keep your yard looking healthy and lush. If you decide to grow evergreen ground cover plants instead of traditional grass, you won’t have to break out your lawn mower and go up and down hills. These types of plants are extremely popular for landscaping, and there are so many choices that suit different growing conditions and environments.
One of the biggest things you have to consider is matching your evergreen ground cover plant’s growing needs to the location so you have the best chance at them thriving. Some like full sun and have a smaller growth habit, and others want a lot of water and shade. Look at your yard and map out the areas where you’re going to put your new evergreen ground cover plants before you buy them. This will help you pick them out much easier, and I’m going to list several great picks you can incorporate into your own landscaping plan this spring to create a beautiful yard that is low-maintenance.
1. Black Mondo Grass
The first evergreen ground cover plant on the list is Black Mondo Grass, and it grows best in zones six to nine. This is a semi-evergreen choice that is extremely eye-catching. You should grow it in the South in the shade in full sun if you plant it in the North. You’ll get thinner grass-like blades that are an extremely dark color that make it take the title for one of the truly black plants. It stands out when you place it next to traditional grass, and it makes any flowers you have stick out even more brightly against it. It will do very well in part shade or full sun, and it only needs a moderate amount of watering once it establishes itself to keep it growing and thriving.
Black mondo grass on our winter garden by brewbooks / CC BY-SA 2.0
2. Creeping Juniper
Creeping Juniper is an evergreen ground cover plant that comes classified as a shrub. However, since it has a creeping form, it creates a nice bridge between most shrubs and subshrubs. It’s a very low-maintenance plant once it establishes itself, and it is very resistant to drought. This plant does best when you plant it in an area that gets full sun every day, and they have very sturdy root systems that can help to hold soil erosion back on any hills in your yard. It grows less than a foot tall, but it spreads out with short, spiky branches and evergreen needles that provide interest all year-round. You won’t have to trim or train it, and it does very well in all different soil types.
Creeping juniper by Cranbrook Science / CC BY 2.0
This is an invasive plant in many parts of the United States, and it has the habit of taking over any area you plant it out and choking out plants around it if you don’t keep it in check. It grows best in zones 3 to 10, and they tend to have very attractive foliage. Depending on the cultivare you pick, it could have variegated foliage, and some of them produce blue flowers. They have a very dense mat-forming habit that is excellent for not allowing weeds to get through it, and deer don’t like it. It grows flower spikes that add height to your landscape, and it does best in full sun or partial shade with a well-drained soil.
Bugleweed by Alex Ranaldi / CC BY-SA 2.0
4. English Ivy
For a long time, English Ivy was a very popular evergreen ground cover plant in zones four to nine. However, it’s another invasive species in several areas. It does best when you put it in a partially or fully shaded area in your yard or garden, and it has small, dense leaves with crinkled edges. It has variegated leaves, and it tends to grow very quickly once you plant it. You will have to trim it and keep an eye on it if you plant it by any other plants to ensure that it doesn’t take over. You get leaves with deep green centers and light green edges that help to reduce weeds, and it can sprawl out several feet. It can also do well in hanging baskets as it spills down the sides.
English Ivy by Melissa McMasters / CC BY 2.0
This is a drought-tolerant evergreen ground cover plant. It’s a subshrub that will produce tight clusters of flowers in white and purple shades when you plant it in full sun. It’s an evergreen if you live in the South and a semi-evergreen if you live in the North. This plant will grow best in zones four to eight, and it likes to be in a well-drained but rich soil. The bright green foliage comes with grass-like elongated leaves that help offset the flowers, and it creates a dense ground cover that weeds have a hard time getting through. It gets 10 to 12-inches high by three feet wide.
Candytuft by Neil Adams / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
6. Creeping Thyme
There are certain types of thyme that are evergreen ground cover plants that grow well in zones five to eight. Archer’s Gold cultivar is one great example, and it is a drought-tolerant perennial. Since this is a Medietrranean herb, it does best when you plant it in a well-drained and dry soil. It loves to be in the full sun every day, and it won’t tolerate a lot of shade. This plant offers fragrant leaves, and it will release the smell each time you brush against it or step on it. You can put it in your rock garden to enjoy a bright green color and the soft fragrance as you take a walk though it.
Creeping Thyme by Andrea_44 / CC BY 2.0
7. Creeping Myrtle
You’ll usually see this evergreen ground cover plant with blue flowers, but you can find cultivars with white flowers. It’s a problem solver that can survive well in dry shade without damage. It’s also considered to be invasive in some areas, and you will have to take care and ensure you don’t accidentally allow it to take over the area and kill any surrounding plants. It is best planted in zones four to eight, and it can survive in some sunlight. However, it does best in partial to full shade with a well-draining soil. It’s not picky with soil conditions either, and it can survive droughts.
Myrtle creeping by Linda Condon / CC BY-ND 2.0
8. Spotted Dead Nettle
This is one of the best evergreen ground cover plants for shaded areas. It is best planted in zones four to eight, and it does best with dry shade conditions. This is a flowering plant that has pink flowers, and it also doubles as a neat foliage plant with silvery leaves that are edged with green. The leaves on this plant can be semi-evergreen or evergreen, depending on the environmental conditions. Some cultivars have white leaves with gold edges, and some are green in the middle with thin golden bands. It can also have lavender flowers, and it is very low-maintenance. Make sure the soil is rich and drains well, and get it on a routine watering schedule to keep it happy. Allow it to dry out between watering sessions.
Spotted Dead Nettle by Patrick Standish / CC BY 2.0
9. Japanese Spurge
If you want an evergreen ground cover plant that resists deer damage, look at Japanese Spurge. This is a classic broadleaf evergreen plant that grows very well in zones four to eight. It tolerates dry, shaded areas very well. Depending on the cultivar you get, it will either produce pretty flowers with smaller leaves or you can get a type that is just foliage without any flowers. If you pick this one, it has brighter green, shiner, and bigger leaves that fill in much more densely. They work well for xeriscaping, and you want to plant them in rich soil that drains very well. It does tolerate sun, but it does best in partial to full shade.
Japanese Spurge by Rob / CC BY 2.0
10. Creeping Phlox
Creeping Phlox is an evergreen ground cover plant that loves full sun, and this is a sharp contrast from several options on the list. It likes the soil to be consistently moist but not soaked, but it also tolerates drier soil conditions without a problem. It’s a semi-evergreen that grows well in zones three to nine, and it has needle-like leaves with purple, lavender, white, pink, red, blue, rose, and bicolored flowers that form a thick mat. You should grow it in thick masses on hillsides to allow the plant to double for erosion control. It will spread out over planting seasons, but you can easily divide it and replant portions of it in other areas.
Creeping Phlox by Santrina0 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
11. Angelina Stonecrop
The Sedum genus has many different evergreen ground cover plants available, including succulents. You can get cultivars that have very dark leaves for a different look, or there are cultivars that offer bright yellow and green foliage. These are upright plants, but Angelina sedum is a trailing plant that works very well as a thicker groundcover. They resist drought very well, and they grow best when you plant them in parietal shade or full sun. The soil should be very well-draining, but they can survive on sandy soils without struggling. They do like it slightly drier than other plants, so make sure that you don’t overwater it. It gets between three and six inches high and up to three feet wide.
Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ by ceramicscapes / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
12. Wall Germander
Wall Germander is a drought-tolerant evergreen ground cover plant that does best when you plant it outside in zones five to nine. It’s very low-maintenance, and you won’t need a host of garden tools on-hand to keep it looking neat and tidy. This plant does well as an edging plant along your walkways, and it likes soil that is kept at a medium moisture level. It can tolerate poor, sandy soil as long as it drains well. Keep the soil neutral or slightly acidic, and it does well in partial shade or full sun. It gets between 6 and 18-inches tall by two feet wide at full maturity, so it won’t take over an area.
160722 100 Chi Bot Gdn Landscape Gdn by cultivar413 / CC BY 2.0
13. Moonshadow Euonymus
This is a broadleaf evergreen ground cover plant that thrives when you plant it in zones five to eight. It offers variegated leaves that are a trademark when it comes to these ornamental shrubs. It has a bicolored pattern on the foliage that has a brighter color in the center with a darker color along the edge of the leaves. It is a very slow-growing bush that will eventually get two feet tall by four feet wide, and it does best when you plant it in full sun. You won’t have to water it a lot to keep it happy, and it will tolerate a whole host of soil conditions from sandy and loamy to rich as long as they drain well.
14. Blue Star Juniper
While this isn’t a creeping juniper, this evergreen ground cover plant stays very short under three feet at full maturity, and it’ll eventually spread out to five feet wide. If you grow this evergreen shrub as a thick mass, it can become a very effective groundcover. It’s a very slow-growing shrub that does well in zones four to eight. It has awl-shaped, blue-tinged evergreen needles that provide year-round interest. It has some drought-resistance once it establishes itself, and it likes to be in full sun to partial shade. There is almost no maintenance involved with this plant, and it’s very cold-hardy.
Front foliage show by jackie-dee / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
15. Lenten Rose
The Lenten Rose will start to bud very early in the spring, and it’s one evergreen ground cover plant that requires full shade and a decent amount of water to thrive. It will reseed itself every year, and it’s one plant that resists voles. It produces flowers that look downward, so it can be difficult to see them unless you grow it on an elevated berm. You could also try to grow the Ivory Prince type of Lenten Rose because the flowers point upwards. Plant it in zones five to eight in a rich but well-draining sol. Make sure to keep the soil consistently moist, and keep it out of the direct sunlight because it can burn.
Lenten Rose by Pauline Rosenberg / CC BY-NC 2.0
This evergreen ground cover plant is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and it’s a very low-growing shrub that works well in colder climates. It doesn’t do well in humid or hot environments, and it does very well in infertile or poor soil conditions. However, it thrives in rich soil that drains well, and it likes plenty of sunshine. It will grow between three and six feet wide, and it will root at any nodes that come into direct contact with the ground. You get shiny, dark green foliage that turns bronze in the winter months before going back to green. There are small clusters of flowers that bloom in May, and they’re a creamy pink color. The flowers give way to small red fruits in the summer months.
Bearberry by Cranbrook Science / CC BY 2.0
This is a pretty evergreen ground cover plant that will bloom in June and produce bright yellow flower clusters. The plant’s foliage is also yellow, and this gives you a shock of color every month. It does very well in partial shade or full sun, but it prefers more sun in the morning with shade in the afternoon. It thrives in very wet soil, but the soil should drain well to avoid rot. If you don’t want rapid growth, put them in drier soil. It will grow aggressively, and it’ll suffocate any plants it comes into contact with. Put it in a large area unless you plant to routinely clip it back.
Moneywort by Mary Mason / CC BY 2.0
18. Red Sedum
Better known as Dragon’s Blood, this evergreen ground cover plant grows well in poor soil conditions, and sedum can adapt to a variety of conditions. It will survive different temperatures, and it’s drought-tolerant to make it a great choice for busy gardeners. The flowers are a very deep crimson red color, and it loves being in full sun. The flowers will turn a deeper shade of red with full sun exposure, and it will grow very quickly. It can reach up to eight inches high at full maturity, and it can spread out several feet. It has deep green foliage with oval leaves that help the flowers stand out more.
Dragon’s Blood Sedum in Bloom by Patrick Standish / CC BY 2.0
19. Trailing Periwinkle
This is an evergreen ground cover plant that will grow in just about any lighting conditions ranging from full sun to full shade. It’ll trail along the ground, and it’ll spill nicely over the sides of whatever you want to grow it on. It grows very quickly, and you should plant it in the early spring months to give the roots time to form so they can survive the colder winter temperatures. You should prune it regularly to keep it in control, and it makes delicate blue flowers. The flowers release a nice floral scent that will last the whole time it blooms, and it works well in gardens or planted along pathways.
Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca Minor) by pete beard / CC BY 2.0
20. Prickly Pear
This is a unique evergreen ground cover plant, and it’s a very cold-hardy type of cactus that makes a fun groundcover. It will give you blousy, open blooms during the late spring and summer months that come in a broad range of colors. They do have spines that can hurt if you touch them, and they’re difficult to remove if they get in your skin. They do well in very sandy and gritty soil, and you want to plant them in a place that gets plenty of sunshine. It should be dry, and they don’t need a lot of water. Some are cold-hardy down to -20 degrees F, and they only get a few inches tall. They grow very slow too.
Prickly Pear on Ektar #3 by Neal Wellons / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
21. Mini Mondo Grass
If you want a very petite evergreen ground cover plants, try Mini Mondo Grass. It is only cold-hardy down to -10 degrees, but it grows small tufts of grass that look wonderful in gardens. It grows up to just four inches tall at full maturity, and it creates a very fast ground cover for areas that get full sun. It works well between stepping stone and around trees, and it’s a great alternative to gravel, shredded bark, and other traditional mulch. You should water it routinely in the early morning or evening hours, and it can grow in many different soil types from rich and all-purpose to sandy and loamy.
Dwarf mondo grass 5 by Megan Hansen / CC BY-SA 2.0
22. Rock Cotoneaster
This is a very pretty evergreen ground cover plant that offers soft sprays of green leaves. During the spring months, this plant produces small pink or white flowers all along the stems. These flowers turn to red berries in the fall and winter months. Most will reach between two and three feet high at full maturity, and they look great in rock gardens or along pathways. They get between two and three feet high, so you can also plant them on slightly sloped areas. It’s hardy to -20 degrees F, but it’s only a semi-evergreen shrub in very cold climates. It’s very slow-growing, and it won’t take over any flowers around it.
IMG_0524.JPG by josh s jackson / CC BY-NC 2.0
23. European Ginger
The European Ginger is a very striking evergreen ground cover plant, and it grows glossy, thick, heart-shaped leaves. It’s a low-growing plant that makes a fantastic ground cover, and it’s very slow-growing. It can survive in a host of lighting conditions, including full, deep shade. It only gets up to six inches tall, and it will survive in temperatures down to -30 degrees F. The leaves are resistant to deer, and it has smaller nondescript blooms. You want to avoid planting this ground cover in very hot climates in the south because it won’t do well, even if you plant in the shade.
24. Hens and Chicks
The final evergreen ground cover plant on the list is Hens and Chicks. These are succulent plants that are very hardy and easy to grow. They are tolerant of cold and drought, and they can produce color blooms in spires, but this isn’t guaranteed. Most only grow between 8 and 10 inches high at full maturity, and they add a nice pop of interest to your garden. You can easily dig up the offsets and replant them in a different area to spread the plant around. They come in several shapes and sizes, and they do well in well-drained soil in partial shade or full sun. Don’t overwater them.
Hens & Chicks by pepperberryfarm / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
These 24 evergreen ground cover plants are excellent additions to your landscape design if you have problems with erosion or trouble with keeping traditional grass alive. You can easily mix and match them and spread them around your landscape to create year-round interest. I invite you to try out a few and see how them improve your yard.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.