9 Ground Covers That Thrive in Full Sun - Backyard Boss
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9 Ground Covers That Thrive in Full Sun

Ground cover plants do precisely as their name implies — but also so much more. They help choke out weeds and limit soil erosion; many have beautiful, scented, and edible flowers. There are plenty of ground cover plants to choose from, and most work in all USDA hardy zones. Read on for the best options for a ground cover that will flourish in your full-sun lawn or garden!

1. Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme in rock garden
BodenseeAkademie via Pixabay

First on the list is creeping thyme, a common name for Thymus serpyllum and Thymus praecox. It grows outward into a dense mat of fragrant leaves that, while edible, aren’t often used for cooking.

There are creeping thyme species that are USDA hardy in Zones 4 to 9, so you can find an accommodating creeping thyme variety for almost any climate. This evergreen attracts pollinators and doesn’t grow more than 6 inches tall.

2. Aronia

close up aronia white flowers and red berries
sergei_spasvia Pixabay

Aronia, a shrub more commonly known as chokeberry, produces a tart, edible berry and is native to North America. There are three known species of Aronia, but a dwarf version of black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) is the best for ground cover. When mass planted, it can be an excellent ground cover.

Black chokeberry is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, is drought-tolerant, and can withstand challenging soil conditions. Dwarf varieties grow up to 1 foot tall. Spring brings white flower blossoms, mid-summer brings ripe, black Aronia berries, and leaves turn red in the fall. 

3. Juniper

close up creeping juniper branches
sarangib via Pixabay

This will be your ground cover savior if you need something that will leave no room for weeds. This drought and poor-soil tolerant evergreen spread horizontally in a dense mat that weeds can’t penetrate. It’s also an excellent option for hilly areas that are hard to maintain or mow, as there is little care required once creeping juniper has been established.

These shrubs also have a pleasant scent and do well as foundational plants in your garden or landscape around your house. Some varieties to consider are Juniperus conferta (USDA zones 6 to 9), Juniperus horizontalis (USDA zones 3 to 9), or Juniperus procumbens (USDA zones 4 to 10). Although this plant is low maintenance, it needs well-draining soil to flourish.

4. Irish Moss

Alpine Pearlwort (Sagina subulata) blooms in the rockery garden in July.
Image credits: Olga Glagazina via Shutterstock

Irish moss (Sagina subulata), sometimes known as pearlwort, is an excellent ground cover substitute for grass around pavers and walkways. It produces small, white flowers in spring and will tolerate foot traffic. Irish moss needs full sun or partial shade and doesn’t do well in extremes of wet or hot conditions.

In the right conditions, it will be a dense and compact ground cover will brilliant green color. This moss is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8 and requires regular, light watering. It will benefit from mulch in colder climates to insulate it from freezing winter temperatures. 

5. Yellow Alyssum

many yellow alyssum plants in garden
TieuBaoTruong via Pixabay

This bright perennial is also known as basket-of-gold after it produces yellow blooms in the springtime. Along with its curb appeal, yellow alyssum is an excellent ground cover and border plant since it only grows between 6 and 12 inches high and can spread up to 18 inches.

Yellow alyssum needs well-draining soil and full sun, and it is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 7. This perennial is also great on slopes or draped over rocks. 

6. Creeping Phlox

purple creeping phlox beside a rock
icbits via Pixabay

Creeping phlox is a ground cover perennial that blooms from mid-spring until mid-summer in a wide variety of bright colors — pink, blue, red, purple, and white. Creeping phlox needs about 2 feet of room to spread and grows to a maximum height of 1 foot.

It does best in full sun or partial shade. In its ideal conditions (USDA zones 3 to 9), it is a fast-growing plant that will create a mat-like surface. When blooming has passed, creeping phlox foliage is a beautiful shade of green and a great grass alternative. 

7. Lamb’s Ear

fuzzy lamb's ear foliage
PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

This plant’s foliage is reminiscent of a lamb’s ear, with its elongated, oval shape, silver sheen, and fuzzy texture. You’ll commonly find lamb’s ear in edging flowerbeds and paths. It produces purple or pink flowers yearly, growing taller than the rest of the low-lying, clumping plant.

These plants clump together and only measure 12 inches wide at maturity, so planting en masse is the best way to cover the ground. Lamb’s ear is drought tolerant and prefers full sun. It will grow well in USDA zones 4 to 9.

Another reason to add these plants to your garden is if hungry animals are hindering your landscaping; lamb’s ears are deer- and rabbit-resistant.

8. Brass Buttons 

Fresh green Brass Buttons groundcover (Leptinella squalida)
Image credits: Jamie Farrant via Shutterstock

The Leptinella squalida species of Brass Buttons produces fern-like foliage that forms a dense mat and will tolerate foot traffic. Brass buttons will only reach a height of 3 inches but spread quickly in loose, acidic soil. This perennial can tolerate heavier, clay-rich soils but will spread significantly less.

Brass buttons will do well in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 10 and need consistent moisture. If you live in a scorching climate, brass buttons will do better in partial shade than in full sun. 

9. Creeping Wire Vine

Muehlenbeckia axilliaris or maidenhair vine or creeping wire vine ornamental green plant
Image credits: ANGHI via Shutterstock

Creeping wire vine is an excellent choice if your lawn has significant slopes or hills that see foot traffic. Its dense foliage does a great job at stopping soil erosion and will choke out most weeds in the area it’s planted. If necessary, you can prune this perennial, as it has a rapid spread.

It is hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10  and does well in various soil conditions. This perennial prefers full sun or partial shade; its particular light requirements may change depending on your region.  

Cover Up With Ground Covers

Ground covers are an excellent grass alternative that requires almost no maintenance, so you can say goodbye to weekly lawn cutting! Since many lawns are in full sun, having ground covers that can thrive in these conditions is key to creating a full, lush area with beautiful foliage.

Share whether you’ve had success with these ground covers in the comments below!