5 excellent ground cover plants for your garden paths, flowerbeds and lawns

by Mark Bennett

June 10, 2024


Instead of leaving them bare (or just planting grass), why not use ground cover plants to beautify open areas in your garden? This "strategy" will make your garden cooler in summer and also help to keep weeds at bay. There are lots of ground cover plants to choose from, and we list some of these for you below:

Wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum L.)

a gravel patch covered with wild thyme


Wild thyme is perhaps the best known of ground cover plants and can actually be walked upon (in moderation, of course): intense foot traffic can kill off any species of ground cover plant, wild thyme included. Wild thyme is excellent for covering the space between slabs or bricks of garden paths, slopes, open areas of the lawn, inside flowerbeds, or even in a rock garden.

Resilient and fragrant, wild thyme loves sunny locations and in late spring produces small, pink-purple flowers (depending on the variety).


Phlox (Phlox stolonifera)

a flowerbed covered with stoloniferous phlox


Compared to wild thyme, phlox flowers are certainly more "showy". That said, phlox has a very low, compact profile with small leaves. It grows in dense clumps, crowding out any weeds. Phlox loves sunny locations and well-draining soil.

3. Ajuga Reptans


Another popular ground cover plant, ajuga reptans comes in many varieties: the wild variety grows in woods in the partial shade. Given sufficient sunlight, this plant produces splendid clusters of purple or bluish blooms that emerge from its carpeting of rounded leaves. Depending on the variety, ajuga will produce white, red, purple, pink or dark brown flowers.

Avoid cultivating ajuga in soil which is overly acidic (so, don't plant it under conifer trees where it will struggle to thrive).

4. Corsican mint (Mentha requienii)


Imagine a vast, green expanse of tiny leaves: this is the charm of the Corsican mint. A mediterranean plant, this mint prefers a temperate climate (which does not get too cold), slightly humid conditions and partial shade. Its flowers are not exactly "showy" (although its tiny lilac flowers can look adorable!). Corsican mint can also tolerate some foot traffic, so it will be ok to use in the gaps of a paved area or driveway.

5. Rock sedum "Angelina"


Native to the mountainous areas of central and western Europe, rock sedum grows very quickly as a light-green carpet that eventually turns yellow (especially when growing in direct sunlight). During autumn, it can even turn orange and red, making it a very decorative ground cover plant. After one or two years, it will also begin to produce star-shaped, yellow flowers in the summer. Rock sedum is perfect for rock gardens or as ground cover for flower beds that have well-draining soil.

Which of these plants would you most like to grow at home?