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5 Low-Maintenance Ground Cover Plants

A graduate in botany, Nithya Venkat enjoys writing about plants that help sustain life on planet Earth.

Ground cover plants help blanket the bare ground with a splash of color and prevent soil erosion by holding onto the soil. They also prevent rapid evaporation of moisture from the ground.

Cover the bare ground under trees, backyard, front garden, or wherever you feel the need to see a pop of color with these flowering low-maintenance ground cover plants.

This article provides information on five low-maintenance ground cover plants, including:

  1. Creeping Thyme
  2. Brass Buttons
  3. Spotted Dead-Nettle
  4. Lady's Mantle
  5. Gold Moss Stonecrop
Creeping Thyme

Creeping Thyme

Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) is also known as mother of thyme, wild thyme, and Breckland thyme. It belongs to the Thymus genus and the Mentheae tribe. This plant is an evergreen dwarf plant with a woody stem.

The creeping thyme plant has lightly-haired foliage growing to rarely over 3 inches in height. It grows in low, dense mats, which spread quickly. It has an enticing fragrance and is deer resistant, thereby making it an ideal choice for the areas where deer are frequent visitors.

Creeping thyme measures 2–3 inches tall and 3–12 inches wide. It requires full sun and well-drained soil for optimum growth. Soil should be moist, and the soil pH should be neutral to slightly alkaline.

It makes a wonderful ground cover as a lawn substitute or between stepping stones and rock gardens. In addition, the flowers of the creeping thyme are a rich source of nectar for honeybees. These plants can be propagated through stem cuttings, divisions, or grown from seeds.

Brass Buttons

Brass Buttons

Brass Buttons

Brass buttons (Leptinella squalida), also known as Platt’s Black, is a herbaceous perennial ground cover that can tolerate a wide variety of soil and light conditions. They belong to the daisy family (Asteraceae) and are also known as buttonweed and golden buttons. They can withstand little foot traffic and are a good choice between stepping stones.

Brass buttons grow up to 2 inches tall and spread up to 18 inches. The leaves are delicate, fern-like, nearly black with bright green tips. The leaves fill in by late spring and are vibrant through the rest of the growing season. In autumn, they turn a bronze, brass, or purple color. They show tiny yellowish-green to gold flowers bloom in early summer.

These plants grow well in acidic, loamy soil rich in organic matter. They plants flourish in full sun in cooler climates, but they need part shade in hotter climates. They spread quickly through rhizomatous runners just under or on the soil surface and continue to spread indefinitely as new root sections. Therefore, these plants can be propagated by division in spring or early fall.

Brass buttons form a dense mat in ideal growing conditions and can be planted as a path edging, between stepping stones, rock gardens, and lawn substitutes.

Spotted Dead-Nettle

Spotted Dead-Nettle

Spotted Dead-Nettle

Spotted dead-nettle (Lamium maculatum) belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It is a perennial plant with heart-shaped leaves. The flowers are tiny, purplish-pink, or white. They have a long blooming period from mid-spring to early summer and continue into fall.

These plants grow up to 4–8 inches tall. They grow well in part shade to full shade conditions with moist, hummus-rich, and well-drained soil. These plants cannot tolerate high heat and humidity. They can be propagated by division in autumn or early spring.

Spotted dead-nettle can be planted as ground cover in shaded gardens, beds, and borders. In addition, they provide good ground cover under perennials and shrubs or as edging plants.

Lady's Mantle

Lady's Mantle

Lady's Mantle

Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial with spreading rhizomes. It belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae). The leaves are soft gray-green, semi-round with scalloped-shaped leaves.

Lady’s mantle flowers bloom in clusters from late spring to early summer. The flowers are delicate star-shaped, greenish-yellow, and bloom just above the foliage. This plant grows up to 18 inches tall and flourishes in full sun or part shade with average, medium moisture, well-drained soil. It is deer and rabbit resistant and attracts butterflies.

This plant grows well in regions with cool summers in moist, fertile soil. Though it can tolerate full sun, the lady’s mantle flourishes in shaded areas. It can be propagated through divisions or seeds.

The lady’s mantle can be planted at the front of borders or as edging for paths. However, it is freely self-seeding, and it may become invasive. Removal of spent flower stems will prevent self-seeding and also promote a late summer rebloom.

Gold Moss Stonecrop

Gold Moss Stonecrop

Gold Moss Stonecrop

Gold moss stonecrop (Sedum acre) belongs to the Crassulaceae family. It is a tiny evergreen herbaceous perennial that grows well in soils that are less fertile exposed to harsh sunlight. These plants flourish in well-drained, dry-to-medium moisture soils and can be easily grown in shallow, rocky, limestone, sandstone soil types.

Gold moss stonecrop grows up to 3 inches tall and spreads through rhizomes in a moss-like fashion along the ground. In late spring to early summer, the stems elongate and flowers begin to bloom.

These plants are thickly covered with blunt, conical, pale green leaves that are only a quarter of an inch in length. The leaves overlap in a shingle-like fashion. The flowers are tiny and star-shaped, with five petals. They bloom in flat terminal inflorescences just above the foliage throughout most of the summer.

The gold moss stonecrop forms an excellent ground cover for sites with poor soil exposed to the harsh sun. They can be planted in sunny border fronts or rock gardens.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Nithya Venkat

Comments

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 22, 2021:

Thank you MG Singh. I am glad you got to know about these plants through this article.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on July 12, 2021:

Nice article with a lot of information that I didn't know. Good, you shared.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 12, 2021:

Thank you Devika. I am happy you learned more from this article.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 12, 2021:

Yes Mary these plants are enticing and calls out to us to do landscaping! Thank you for your visit and comments.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 12, 2021:

Mishnah, these plants are beautiful. Thank you for your visit and comments.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on July 12, 2021:

Very detailed hub about these beautiful plants, Nithya. I enjoyed reading it. These plants look so elegant and beautiful. Thank you for sharing knowledge.

Blessings always

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 11, 2021:

These are beautiful ground covers. It is so enticing to do some landscaping but for now, I'll just enjoy these here.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 11, 2021:

Vellur I like the cover plants. Your ideas are so useful. I had cover plants for a few years. I learned lots more from your hub about these types of plants. Beautiful plants and low maintained for me sounds perfect for gardening.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 10, 2021:

Thank you, Thelma I am glad you came to know about these plants.

Thank you, Peggy, for your visit and comments. Reading and commenting on new articles has become difficult.

Thank you, Rozllin. These plants are beautiful and look great as ground cover.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 10, 2021:

These plants grow beautifully FlourishAnyway and they would fill out nicely between stepping stones. Thank you for your visit and comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 10, 2021:

These all sound like wonderful low-maintenance ground cover plants. Thanks for the information about them. I am glad I finally found this in the feed so that I could leave a comment.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 10, 2021:

Thank you for your visit and comments manatita44.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on July 10, 2021:

Wow! They are amazing low maintenance grounds. I have not heard of them until now. Thank you for sharing these loads of information.

Rozlin from UAE on July 10, 2021:

I never heard about these ground cover plants. They look beautiful. I learnt a lot from your hub. Thanks for sharing, Nithya.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 10, 2021:

These are beautiful. I'd love to have more open space so I could plant these. They seem to spill out like a river. I have stepping stones like you describe but they are shaded by trees.

manatita44 from london on July 10, 2021:

You have made them very detailed and gave us beautiful photos. Not so familiar. lovely read!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 09, 2021:

Thank you Miebakagh for your visit and comments.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on July 09, 2021:

Because I like gardening, I read your article for the curiousity and interest it would generated. Many thanks.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 09, 2021:

Yes, creeping thyme never fails to perform. Thank you for your visit and comments, Bill.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 09, 2021:

I really love Creeping Thyme. I've grown it before and it never fails to perform. In fact, I think I'll plant more of it next year, so thanks for the reminder and inspiration.

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