Groundcover refers to any plant that grows over an area of ground, used to provide protection from erosion and drought, and to improve its aesthetic appearance (by concealing bare earth).
In an ecosystem, the ground cover is the layer of vegetation below the shrub layer. The most widespread groundcovers are grasses of various types.
In agriculture, groundcover refers to anything that lies on top of the soil and protects it from erosion and inhibits weeds. It can be anything from a low layer of grasses to a plastic material. The term groundcover can also specifically refer to landscaping fabric which is like a breathable tarp that allows water and gas exchange.
In gardening jargon, however, the term "groundcover" refers to plants that are used in place of weeds.
Plants for groundcover
Five general types of plants are commonly used as groundcovers:
- Vines, which are woody plants with slender, spreading stems
- Herbaceous plants, or non-woody plants
- Shrubs of low-growing, spreading species
- Moss of larger, coarser species
- Ornamental grasses, especially low-growing varieties
Of these types, some of the most common groundcovers include:
- Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
- Clover (Trifolium)
- Bacopa (Bacopa)
- Ivy (Hedera)
- Gazania (Gazania rigens)
- Ground-elder (Aegopodium podagraria)
- Ice plant
- Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
- Junipers of various low-growing types
- Lantana, creeping species
- Lilyturf (Liriope muscari and Liriope spicata)
- Mint (Mentha)
- Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
- Pearlwort (Sagina subulata)
- Periwinkle (Vinca)
- Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum)
- Soleirolia (Soleirolia soleirolii)
- Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)