What ground covers grow at high altitude? I live in Colorado.

January 05, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

The ideal ground cover plant forms a sufficiently dense mat of roots and foliage to reduce soil erosion, exclude weeds and provide an attractive, year-round appearance. A ground cover, by definition, spreads. Species that spread by rhizomes (underground stems), stolons (like the "runners" on strawberries), offsets ("splits"), or rooting of branches (tip-layering) generally are best for ground cover. Sod-forming grasses fit most of the above requirements and have the additional benefit of withstanding considerable traffic abuse. There are situations, however, when grasses may not be desired for aesthetic reasons or where mowing and other turf maintenance are not practical.

Examples of high altitude ground covers:

Acantholimon sp.  Prickly Dianthus

Achillea tomentosa  Woodly Yarrow

Arenaria montana  Mountain Sandwort

Iberis sempervirens  Evergreen Candytruft

Potentilla verna var. nana  Spring cinequefoil

For a complete list of other high altitude ground covers see fact sheet 7.413, "Ground Cover for Mountain Communities."

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.