New Zealand brass buttons produce feathery evergreen leaves that form an excellent ground cover. ATTRIBUTION: David Eickhoff (Flickr)

Ground-cover plants are often incorporated into gardens to protect the area from erosion and drought and to provide aesthetic appeal by concealing the bare soil underneath. They can also be used as alternatives to common turf grasses in some locations. Ground-cover plants act as an insulating cover for soil, keeping the ground warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, while providing an attractive safe haven for beneficial insects and other garden predators. Most of us know that a bare spot in a garden or lawn can stick out like a sore thumb. When you need to fill in the gaps, these charming ground-cover plants can provide the color, texture, and density desired in lush landscaping.

Brass Buttons

Brass buttons are a type of low-growing plant often used to edge garden paths, drives, and walks. This hardy plant is able to survive moderate foot traffic. Brass button plants grow to about two inches tall but spread out to fill in bare areas of ground. From late spring until mid-summer, the plant generally grows small, yellow button-shaped flowers. While brass buttons are generally easy to care for, they do require well-draining soil with granite grit or gravel added. They are also fairly intolerant to drought. Water this plant thoroughly and regularly to keep it well-hydrated.

Sweet Woodruff

Sweet woodruff appears in small clusters of white star-shaped blooms that reach an average of eight to 12 inches in height. The fast-growing ground cover easily weaves through gardens and lawns and is able to effectively fight off weeds. It also produces a sweet fragrance that is commonly used in wreaths and potpourris due to its long-lasting aromatic quality. Sweet woodruff prefers shaded areas with slightly acidic, well-drained soil. It’s important to note that unless it’s planted in dry soil, sweet woodruff can be invasive, especially with frequent watering.


Pachysandra is an evergreen ground cover that is relatively low-maintenance and spreads quickly. It generally grows from eight to 12 inches high and produces small white flowers in the spring. Pachysandra is rabbit- and deer-resistant and can survive through brief periods of drought. As the plant grows best in partial to full shade, incorporate pachysandra in shady areas such as underneath trees. On the downside, pachysandra is highly susceptible to various pests, including mites. The risk of damage can be reduced by not overcrowding the plants.

Lady’s Mantle

Lady’s mantle is known for its small, dainty flowers and its cupped leaves that hold water droplets after a rainfall. This ground covering is often used to soften hard edges along walkways, driveways, and garden beds. Caring for lady’s mantle is quite simple, requiring only the occasional removal of older leaves and flowers as they dry and brown. However, poor circulation and high humidity can cause this plant to develop fungus problems. Allowing the soil to stay slightly dry can help ward off damaging fungal diseases.