Horticulture Magazine

9 Evergreen Groundcover Plants For Year-Round Cover

perennial garden plants with purple flowers

Groundcover plants are, as the name would suggest, plants that cover the ground.

They are naturally low-growing plants that grow quickly, masking bare soil and suppressing weeds. They are ideal for filling awkward gaps and give your garden a look of fullness, providing interest to your garden year-round.

Carpeting your garden, evergreen groundcover plants are also great for keeping things a little more low-maintenance, shielding tricky-to-mow areas and slopes.

Where other ground covering plants die back in the colder months, evergreens supply year-round cover.

More reasons to choose evergreen ground cover plants

Aside from what we’ve already mentioned, there are many other reasons to opt for these plucky plants.

  • Many species of evergreen groundcover plants have wonderfully fibrous roots which help to prevent soil erosion.
  • Their leaves help provide a safe habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators that are overwintering.
  • Throughout the year their green shots help to diffuse and disperse rainfall and snow before it reaches the ground.
  • Acting almost as “living mulch”, evergreen groundcover plants supply unlimited shade to soil and help to prevent weed seed germination.

Recommended plants for year-round cover

Choosing the best evergreen groundcover plants for your garden can be a tricky task, so we have found the best, hardest working options to help keep your garden looking endlessly healthy and vibrant.

For the best effect, take care to match the evergreen ground cover plants to their location, and be sure to establish whether your chosen variety requires full sun or will tolerate shade.

We’ve picked out our favourite evergreen groundcover plants to set you on your path for choosing the perfect plants for your garden.

1. Creeping Thyme

This spreading thyme variety is easy to grow and is perfect for rock gardens, paths and stepping stones, as well as for helping you to create a living patio. It is also a great lawn alternative.

Pink flowers of herb thyme growing on the ground
We’ve always got time for creeping thyme.

This woody perennial is perfect for sunny spots in your garden and, as with other thyme varieties is edible and wonderfully aromatic.

In late spring to early summer it produces vast clusters of gorgeous little flowers in a variety of shades that are particularly attractive to bees.

Creeping thyme is a beautiful candidate for landscaping and not only is it resistant to deer, but this robust little plant can also put up with being tromped across by kids, so it’s perfect for a family garden.

2. English Ivy

This popular plant is a super climber and can cling to almost any surface, using small roots that grow along its stems. As far as care goes this traditional trooper is super low-maintenance so is ideal for planting in tricky, hard to reach places and just letting it get on with it.

English ivy prefers shade and organically rich soil; you can encourage growth by enriching the soil with compost. This ground covering evergreen takes about three years to establish, but once it does, it is truly unstoppable.

By shearing off the tops of the plant in springtime, you will help to rejuvenate the vines. This plant is also wonderfully skilled at discouraging rodents, making it one of the most useful plants on our list.

3. Creeping Myrtle

Creeping myrtle prefers partial shade and moist, rich, well-drained soil; however, it will tolerate more average or dry ground. This evergreen is fast-growing and produces shiny green leaves and adorable blue, star-shaped flowers which bloom for a month in the springtime.

It is worth mentioning that this plant has an invasive tendency, forming dense mats that can overcrowd other plants. You can control creeping myrtle’s growth by mowing or cutting back and spraying with herbicide. You should aim to do this two years on the trot between July and October.

You can cut it back in spring to encourage new growth, and while it can sometimes get out of hand, creeping myrtle certainly provides superb groundcover.

4. Japanese Spurge

With glossy rosettes of dark green leaves which help to form dense mats, Japanese spurge is an eye-catching and attractive groundcover evergreen plant that performs well in the sun and the shade.

Preferring moist, well-drained soil, Japanese spurge is perfect for providing groundcover to large spaces and is also a great mulch-substitute under shaded tree canopies where not much else will grow.

Japanese spurge is ideal for covering bare areas of ground between deciduous shrubs and trees and will keep your garden looking lush and alive year-round.

5. Creeping Phlox

Another creeping groundcover plant, creeping phlox is low maintenance and, although relatively unfussy about soil, thrives in a sunny spot with well-drained soil.

Purple flowers of phlox subulata
Carefree creeping phlox

Blooming in springtime, creeping phlox produces gorgeous cascades of five-petalled flowers in shades of red, purple, white and blue.

Even when established, this evergreen beauty will benefit from extra water during hot and dry spells, and you can cut back the stems after blooming to promote a second wave of flowers.

When massed together to create groundcover, creeping phlox is a real showstopper and a powerful statement in any garden.

6. Black Mondo Grass

If you want to create drama with your groundcover plant, then black mondo grass is for you. This low growing perennial sports purple-black, grass-like leaves, forming a uniquely coloured carpet of foliage.

Known also as black beard, this densely spreading plant produces spikes of little, purple-flushed, white flowers in summer, followed by pretty, blue-black berries in autumn.

Perfect for banks and slopes, black mondo grass thrives in well-drained, slightly acidic soil in full sun or partial shade. No pruning is required, but it is attractive to slugs so repellent may be necessary.

7. Angelina Stonecrop

This evergreen, mat-forming, low-growing evergreen perennial showcases succulent stems and leaves and produces lovely clusters of little, star-shaped flowers in spring or autumn. It’s an excellent option if you want to grow something a little bit different and ‘out there’.

Growing to 15cm in height and spreading up to 60cm wide, Angelina’s leaves become bright yellow in spring, gradually turning to an eye-catching yellow-green in summertime. In autumn the leaves are tinted with orange and red making a plant that really adds interest to your garden all year round.

This is a relatively trouble-free groundcover plant that will do well in low to moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun.

8. Spotted Dead Nettle

This handsome, evergreen, groundcover plant forms a lovely mat of coarse, toothed leaves, producing dainty, tubular purple, white or pink flowers in summer.

A bed of spotted deadnettle
Nettle by name but not by nature.

Spotted dead nettle, sometimes called devil’s clover, prefers moist, well-drained soil, in a sheltered position, in deep or partial shade.

Easy to maintain, this plant is perfect to use as an underplanting for shrubs and roses, and you can cut it back after flowering to ensure fresh foliage cover.

Despite the name, spotted dead nettles don’t sting, but probably evolved to look like stinging nettles to protect themselves from predators.

9. Lenten Rose

Lenten roses are an evergreen, perennial groundcover species of hellebore which is part of the buttercup family.

This plant is great for creating interest during the winter months, producing nodding flowers from late winter to spring. They are also a great source of food for pollinators in early spring.

Best planted during autumn and spring, choose a spot in light shade where it can also enjoy the full sun for part of the day.

Be sure to mulch in spring to reduce dryness of the soil and remove damaged or diseased leaves throughout autumn and winter.

Did we cover everything?

Hopefully, this article has covered everything you need to know about evergreen ground cover plants for year-round cover as well as providing plenty of inspiration for the best plants to include in your garden.

There is so much to be said for evergreen groundcover plants. They bring interest to gardens, as well as helping to make your outdoor space so much easier to maintain. And with so many flowering varieties, you can really boost your gardens blooming power and breathe life into it throughout the year.

Take care to do your research for each plant to make sure you place it in the perfect spot in your garden to help it thrive. Aside from that, when it comes to evergreen ground cover plants, you can’t go far wrong! With all that said and done, why not get out there and start covering those tricky, empty patches. After that, there’s nothing to do but sit back and watch your garden grow and grow.

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