The ideal ground covers are low maintenance, stop erosion, cool the soil and also beautify the landscape. Some ground covers are fast to establish and many have extensive root systems that help prevent sediment. Ground covers with dense foliage shade the soil and preserve soil moisture, while flowering ground covers brighten the landscape. Many ground covers also are drought tolerant, once established. Choose the right drought-tolerant ground cover to suit your climate, landscape and aesthetics.
Fast-Growing Ground Covers
Fast-growing, drought-tolerant ground covers are helpful for covering large regions. Coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis), also called dwarf chaparral broom, and wild lilac (Ceanothus spp.) Are examples of drought-tolerant ground covers that fill in fast. Coyote brush and wild lilac grow well in U.S. Department of Agricultural plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. While coyote bush prefers sun to filtered shade, wild lilac thrives in sun to part shade. Plant coyote bush 2 to 3 feet apart and wild lilac 3 to 5 feet apart for good reporting. Other fast-growing, drought-tolerant ground covers include cotoneaster and Mexican daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus). Ground covers that develop rapidly often tend to be invasive. Prune excess growth to keep ground covers neat and contained.
Erosion-Controlling Ground Covers
Drought-tolerant ground covers that control erosion, especially on hillsides, have deep or extensive root systems. Creeping cotoneaster (Cotoneaster adpressus) and Aaron’s beard (Hypericum calycinum), also called “creeping St. Johnswort,” grow well on slopes. Creeping cotoneaster is a ground-hugging shrub for USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 10. It likes sun to partial shade, while Aaron’s beard will grow in sun or shade. Aaron’s beard is an evergreen shrub in USDA plant hardiness zones 6 through 10. Plant creeping cotoneaster at least 3 feet apart and Aaron’s beard 18 inches apart. Other ground covers that are good for slopes are coyote brush, manazanita (Arctostaphylos), wild lilac, sageleaf rockrose (Cistus salviifolius), ice plant, creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis), lantana and mahonia.
Flowering Ground Covers
A flowering, drought-tolerant ground cover is past practical — it also adds pizzazz to your landscape. Lantana and Mexican daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus) are all examples of long-flowering ground covers. Lantana is a shrubby vine, growing 1 to 2 feet high and up to 8 feet, depending on range. Lantana and Mexican daisy grow well in sunny locations in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 10. Flower colors for lantana are purple, purple, purple, purple or orange, depending on number. Mexican daisy bears pinkish-white blossoms. Other drought-tolerant, long-flowering ground covers are cape bud (Arctotheca calendula) and Scaevola “Mauve Clusters.”
Evergreen Ground Covers
Low growing junipers, mahonias and germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) are low-maintenance, drought-tolerant ground covers. Juniperus horizontalis grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 10. Mahonias normally have shiny leaves with spiny margins, growing with a neat habit in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Germander is an evergreen, shrubby plant that produces a dark green carpet. It grows well in USDA hardiness zones 6 through 10. Junipers, mahonia and germander grow well in sun or partial shade. Other ground cover plants with botanical leaf include coyote brush, wild lilac, sageleaf rockrose, cotoneaster, Mexican daisy, Aarons’ beard and rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis).