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Low-Maintenance Ground Covers That Suppress Weeds

Updated on January 15, 2017
The Dirt Farmer profile image

Jill volunteers at community gardens & learns about gardening through the MD Native Plant Society & MD Master Gardening Program.

Six easy-to-grow ground covers that choke out weeds

Hardy ground covers can not only improve the appearance of your yard, but they can also significantly reduce the amount of time you spend weeding.

Need coverage for a dry area that gets full sun? Struggling to grow grass in dry shade? Or perhaps your landscape suffers from boggy patches marred by bald spots and scraggly weeds.

One of the perennial ground covers below could be the perfect solution to your problem. Each grows thickly, choking out weeds as it spreads. And each requires little care to thrive where few other plants will grow.

Golden Creeping Jenny

For Wet, Full-Sun Locations

Golden Creeping Jenny is also called moneywort. The 'Aurea' cultivar is an ideal ground cover for suppressing weeds.
Golden Creeping Jenny is also called moneywort. The 'Aurea' cultivar is an ideal ground cover for suppressing weeds. | Source

Golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) is a rugged ground cover hardy in Zones 3-9.* It thrives in wet areas. Although it grows in partial shade, for best color grow it in full sun. Its long trailing stems have round chartreuse leaves and yellow flowers.

Creeping Jenny covers large areas quickly, putting out roots all along its stems and choking out weeds.

Use it to ring a pond, trail along a wall or edge a walkway. It even makes a great spiller in mixed container gardens. Although creeping Jenny can be an aggressive grower, the cultivar "Aurea' is relatively well behaved.


Mazus reptans is a lovely green when not in bloom.
Mazus reptans is a lovely green when not in bloom. | Source

For Moist, Partial-Shade Areas

Mazus reptans, commonly called mazus, is another low-maintenance perennial ground cover. Suitable for Zones 4-9, it performs best in part shade, but it will grow in full shade, too.

When weather's hot, keep mazus moist. In mild climates it remains green year round and begins blooming in early spring. If conditions are right, it will bloom throughout summer, sometimes even into fall.

At just two-inches tall, mazus is the perfect ground cover between stepping stones and along walls. And it's easy to propagate. Transplant small plugs from established plants in early spring or fall when they're not in bloom. Or, root cuttings during the summer and plant them in autumn.

Creeping Phlox

Phlox looks deceptively delicate.
Phlox looks deceptively delicate. | Source

Creeping phlox is a classic perennial ground cover that's hardy in Zones 3-9. Although it looks delicate, phlox is extremely rugged. And it grows easily in shaded and full-sun areas.

For shady, moist spots, try Phlox stolonifera for weed suppression. In full-sun, dry areas, Phlox subulata forms a thick, pretty carpet that keeps weeds at bay.

Phlox stolonifera

Phlox stolonifera is a wonderful weed suppressor for shady spots.
Phlox stolonifera is a wonderful weed suppressor for shady spots. | Source

For Moist, Shady Areas

Tufted creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera) is a North American native that prefers partial sun or shade and moist soil. It has needle-like evergreen leaves that form a dense mat to effectively suppress weeds.

In early spring, it produces small white or pink flowers. The 'Home Fires' variety is a fragrant cultivar with hot pink blooms. When flowering, it can reach up to 12-inches high.

Phlox subulata


For Dry, Full-Sun Areas

For erosion control, few ground covers work better than creeping phlox (Phlox subulata).

It loves full sun, it's drought tolerant and it isn't picky about soil quality. Phlox subulata cultivars come in a variety of flower colors, including white, blue, red and pink.

Like tufted creeping phlox, Phlox subulata has needle-like evergreen leaves.

Red Creeping Thyme

Thyme grows close to the ground, creating a mat that leaves no room for weeds.
Thyme grows close to the ground, creating a mat that leaves no room for weeds. | Source

For Dry, Full-Sun Areas

Red creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum coccineus ) is a heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant ground cover that grows in zones 3 to 9. It likes full sun and grows close to the ground at only two to four-inches tall. It's deer-resistant, too.

Plant it around stepping stones. It gives off a delightful scent when stepped on. Or plant it by walls, along borders and in other areas that are difficult to weed.

Red creeping thyme adds attractive deep green color to your landscape throughout spring, but it's most beautiful in summer when it erupts in gorgeous crimson flowers. It really, really chokes out the weeds, forming a thick mat.

We grew our thyme from seed, but you can also purchase organic plug trays for quicker results.

Dragon's Blood Sedum

For Poor-Soil Areas in Full or Partial Sun

Dragon's blood sedum may be the hardiest and most versatile of all weed-suppressing ground covers.

A cultivar of the succulent Sedum spurium, Dragon's blood ('Schorbuser Blut') is hardy in Zones 3-8. Not only does it grow in full sun as well as partial shade, but it also thrives in poor soil.

Like creeping Jenny, Dragon's blood sedum has trailing stems that root easily, so it's a snap to propagate. It does well in containers, rock gardens and places where little else (besides weeds) will grow.

Dragon's blood sedum looks good year round. In spring it produces bright green leaves that turn maroon as temperatures drop. In summer it has showy red flowers.

Less hardy Sedum spurium cultivars include ‘Red Carpet,' which has red leaves, and ‘Voodoo,' which has mahogany-colored leaves. 'John Creech,' is a smaller, slower growing cultivar that produces pretty pink blossoms in fall. 'Tricolor' has green, pink and white variegated leaves.

No matter which variety you grow, pollinators will be drawn to its broad flower heads.

*Your hardiness zone.

If you don't know your area's plant hardiness zone, go to EdibleLandscapeDesign.com for links to zone maps in Australia, Canada, China, Europe, New Zealand, North America, South America and the U.S.

More ground covers to consider


About the Author

The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.

She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm.

Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.

© 2011 Jill Spencer


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    • profile image

      Ethel 7 weeks ago

      I'm so very glad to has discovered this site. I live in Tampa Florida..in the City..but still a neighborhood that enjoys a quarterly "Best Yard" notice! My home faces the North and I have plenty of weeds...I keep them mowed to save face...but weeding the entire yard wood leave me with sand. What would you recommend or suggest to help me possibly get thru this heart ache? Except re-sodding, and if I have to do that..I might just cement it! Disparately seeking help!

    • profile image

      LStuart 5 months ago

      Hi, we just bought a new house and there is no landscaping at all, just dirt and weeds starting to grow. I am going to plant some Spring bulbs and some trees and bushes now during Fall here in Northern Utah. And then I want to plant a ground covering to choke out the weeds in the landscaped areas. Is it best to plant the ground covering in Fall or wait til Spring? Also, my main concern, is will the ground covering choke out the bulbs from coming up year after year? And will the ground covering jump the curbing and start growing in the grassy areas? I want to avoid landscape fabric because it doesn't work well from my experience. Thanks so much!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 6 months ago from United States

      Mona, you might want to use a green manure crop, which you grow until just before it blooms and then till into the soil to increase soil fertility. Here's an article about them from Mother Earth News: https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/...

      All the best to you! Jill

    • profile image

      Muna 6 months ago

      Hi, enjoyed the article !! i have a 200sqm area that was a lawn area before i travel.. It has become a weed area, i am planning to design it next year..however i need to clean it and grow land cover in the mean time. What would be a fast growing , yet easy to pull out ground cover in south Australia , full sun , preferably less watering during summer. I hope it can rejuvenate the soil .. I will appreciate feedback on possible options. Many thanks.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 7 months ago from United States

      Hi Melissa! I'm passing along to you a link to your area extension service so that you can ask a gardening expert in your state (mostly likely a professor) about the best choices for that area of your yard. You will probably want to choose native plants, which will require less maintenance than non-natives. Anyway . . . here's the link: http://extension.missouri.edu/main/aae.aspx

      All the best! Jill

    • profile image

      Melissa has no green thump 7 months ago

      I live near Republic, MO and we have a lot of weeds and the front of my house has big bushes I want to pull out, because they just collect a lot of leaves from our 30 trees we have on our 5 acres. I have young baby, so don't want high maintenance, and currently have a lot of wasps living in the front bushes as well... Is there something you would recommend to plant here? It is partial shade or mostly shaded area.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 20 months ago from United States

      Hi "Leafy Splurge." There's a new dragon's blood sedum called Sedum spurium "Fulda Glow" (Fuldaglut ) you might want to try in your Zone 3 garden. I have no practical experience with it, but it's supposed to be hardier than the other varieties and stay somewhat green even in subzero temps. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Leafy Spurge issue 20 months ago

      Do you feel either the dragon's blood sedum or the Red Thyme wood work in fighting Leafy Spurge in sandy / dry soils (Saskatchewan near Saskatoon, Canada)? We are looking for ways to cut down or get rid of chemicals while getting control of this weed.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 2 years ago from United States

      Very true, Sarah. Ground covers that crowd out the weeds are a perfect solution. Thanks for commenting! All the best, Jill

    • profile image

      Sarah Sarich 2 years ago

      I was needing something like this. My kids keep insisting on weeding the places that have no plants in them. This is much easier for them, but makes overall maintenance harder for me. SOMETHING has to fill in the dirt before the weeds come back.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 3 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Patricia. I love the creeping thyme. It's really, really tight and the blooms are pretty, too. Thanks for commenting!--Jill

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      O, Jill, these are lovely enough to used solely for the beauty they impart. But knowing that they serve the purpose of helping them to control weeds makes them all the more appealing.

      Thanks for sharing. This is being bookmarked for later reference.


      Angels are on the way ps

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks, rbm! Hope the phlox works for you. Thanks for stopping by.

    • rbm profile image

      rbm 4 years ago

      Good information! I really like the creeping phlox, will give this a try in my front yard. Good hub!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hope the dragon's blood does well for you, quester. It's a good looking plant, even when it's not blooming. Take care, Jill

    • quester.ltd profile image

      quester.ltd 4 years ago

      another great Hub! - going to try the dragon's blood - since we use an herbal med by the same name - works wonders so I see if the plant will work wonders for a poor area - thanks


    • Jakob Barry profile image

      Jakob Barry 5 years ago

      Great choices! Especially the thyme. I use herbs mulching around them for these situations because they are so useful. Thanks for a great hub.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      So many people seem to dislike mint, but like you I'm really fond of it. Working with it is so pleasant because it smells so good! Thanks for the vote! Take care, Jill

    • Joe Macho profile image

      Zach 5 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks for the information. I've used Creeping Jenny before around the house, and it grows very nicely and I never have weeds around it. I also like to use mint species for ground cover. Spearmint, lemon balm, and other garden mints are perfect. Voted up

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks for reading, fdoleac. Hope you give dragon's blood a try. It really is a remarkable plant!

    • fdoleac profile image

      fdoleac 5 years ago from Hollis, New Hampshire

      Thank you for this information. Of particular interest is the dragon's blood sedum.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Awesome! Happy you stopped by, MysteryPlanet, and good luck with your gardening project. --DF

    • MysteryPlanet profile image

      MysteryPlanet 5 years ago

      Believe it or not I was looking for just this information. We had an area to get filled in recently and I need a good ground cover to plant in the area

    • Miss Mellie profile image

      M.S. Ross 5 years ago

      Talking too much? Pshaw! Your pearls of knowledge are heartily welcomed! Thank you!! I'll keep you posted on my progress. :)

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Sounds like we have some of the same issues! I'm in Zone 8. Soil compaction will probably be your greatest challenge. Red creeping thyme would work where you are, and so would ice, although it allows a few weeds to peek through, but it spreads like a dream. On banks, try Scarlet Flame Carpet Phlox or moonbeam coreopsis (drought tolerant and it has a sweet flower). If you want even more color, you could use daylilies, too. Exploded pumpkin daylilies won't choke out all the weeds like a thick groundcover, but deer don't seem to like that particular cultivar, and they bloom more than once. They're easy to naturalize, so they'll spread on their own. Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' (a hardy variety of black-eyed Susan) spreads like a weed here. It blooms a long time and looks interesting in the winter, too, if you don't cut back the flowers. Wow! I'm talking way too much! Wish you luck!

    • Miss Mellie profile image

      M.S. Ross 5 years ago

      Thanks to your Backyard Gardener link, I determined that I'm in a zone 9 region. Dry and dusty hard packed clay soil on a dirt road (lovely!) that is excellent at breeding waves of weeds. I need to put 'em down once and for all with some tenacious ground cover. I'd like to do so with some variety since there's a lot of (ha!) ground to cover.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the positive feedback, Miss Mellie. I really appreciate the encouragement! Tell me your general geographical location, and I'll try to come up with some drought-tolerant groundcovers for you.

    • Miss Mellie profile image

      M.S. Ross 5 years ago

      Voted up and useful: I've been looking for some weed-choking ground cover, and here you supply the very ideas I need! Now: any additional suggestions besides Dragon's Blood for poor soil in dry, sunny spots? I have slope areas to cover, and would love to see more options, particularly plants that get along with minimal to no care aside from watering.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      That's great! Hope it works out.

    • sam3m profile image

      sam3m 5 years ago from New York

      thanks, we were just talking about a problem area in our yard and you may have solved the problem.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks, Eiddwen. Btw, I really liked your Barley Saturday hub (http://hubpages.com/hub/Join-me-on-Barley-Saturday... The pictures were great!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      A very useful hub and well presented.

      Useful/up for this one.

      Thanks for sharing and take care


    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 5 years ago from United States

      What a great choice! I like burgandy colors in the garden, too. Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      Esmeowl12 5 years ago

      Thanks so much for these ideas. I'm definitely going to try the dragon's blood sedum. Great hub!

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