Water Conserving Groundcovers for Shrub and Perennial Beds

Water Conservation for Lawn and Landscape June 11, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Groundcovers are simply plants that are used to cover an area of bare ground. Although groundcovers are generally considered creeping or spreading plants, other plants, when planted densely enough, can be used in the same fashion.

Water conserving groundcovers can be herbaceous perennials or woody plants and generally are less than 24 inches in height.  They can have interesting textures, colors, and flowers. Space appropriately to create the desired effect.      

Use of Groundcovers

Groundcovers are a great way to visually 'link' together other plants such as shrubs and perennials. Taller and dense groundcovers can help with weed control .

Care of Groundcovers

When using water conserving groundcovers in shrub and perennial beds consider the degree of maintenance required.

  • Understand the degree of invasiveness of the species under consideration
  • Choose appropriate species for sun or shade
  • Groundcovers are generally easy to divide and transplant
  • Fertilize appropriately keeping in mind some hardy and drought tolerant plants may need little to no additional fertilizer



Low growing creeping thyme is a low water use plant that can be walked on when clipped. Photo credit: Susan Buffler


Drought tolerant sedums (stonecrop) growing on a rock need little soil to thrive. Many cultivars are available. Be aware that some sedums will readily regrow from fragments.Photo credit: Susan Buffler

Additional Resources:


Colorado: Ground Cover Plants
Xeriscaping: Ground Cover Plants
California: Ground Covers
Nevada: Ground Covers


Illinois: Tips for Groundcovers
Minnesota: Groundcovers


Florida: Ground Cover for South Florida





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