inexpensive groundcover

cosby, TN(Zone 7a)

could someone please help me find a inexpensive evergreen groundcover,it needs to be cheap because of the amount of space i need to cover, all together probably near 3/4 of an acre,,both sun and shade, with diffrent types of soil through out, also its all
sloped, which is the reasoning behind the ground cover, most of my yard is just to steep to mow, in the foothills of the smokey mountains, im pretty sure that i am zone 6 here in cosby, happy gardening

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

all the "inexpensive" ones are probably going to invasives. Like English Ivy, Pachysandra, vinca minor and major. You could try (in the sunny area) some orange daylillies...Try to do it little by little adding some christmas ferns .. Lamium...(invasive)...You also may already have some things there that you can use or move around.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8a)

Dg's own Pixydish introduced kinnikinnick to me. I had seen it around but never knew it had such a fun name. Here is a link:

And a Tom Cook @ Oregon State U. has developed an eco-lawn that is suppose to be e-z care and maintainence. I don't think of it as too $$.

Windsor, ON(Zone 6a)

A good ground cover for steep banks is Crown Vetch. Very invasive. You may want to learn more about it. It is toxic to horses...

cosby, TN(Zone 7a)

thanks for your help everyone, i will research all of these
before i do anything michiline

Brooklyn, NY(Zone 7a)

I like using clover. It is invasive but it is nitrogen fixing,meaning it gets it's nitrogen from the air instead of the soil. You can then till it into the soil at the end of the season to put nitrogen back into the soil.The clover flowers and the bees and lightning bugs love it. Also, the clover's root system is fairly shallow so it doesn't compete with flowers of a longer root system. The clover produces a beautiful thick ground cover and you can mow it if you like, but you don't have to. I have white, red, and purple clover in my garden and I'm very happy with it.

This message was edited Feb 21, 2007 10:59 PM

Cicero, IL(Zone 5a)


I landscape alot with native plants - I'm a professional gardener and landscape designer by trade and these are the just the best! They handle really poor soil and other less then ideal conditions.

I would suggest if there's some shade, using Wild Ginger - Asarum canadense. It's a wonderful native groundcover, although not evergreen. It can be a bit hard to find but you can mail order it from Prairie Moon Nursery in Wisconsin. Since it's native a little goes a long way and as long as the soil is decent (doesn't have to be great as long as it's mulched) it will establish well after a couple of seasons. Once it get going it's also very easy to divide and transplant to other areas unlike some of the weedier and invasive other groundcover's like ivy, vinca and euonymous which are a real pain to dig up and divide.

I would really strongly advise staying away from these plants. You'll actually end creating more of a problem in the end. They all require quite a bit of pruning and all have a nasty tendency of strangling other plants, trees and shrubs if the maintenance isn't kept up on them. The euonymous also is very prone to scale which requires biannual spraying once it's infected.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Native... I have a question regarding Vinca. Against all the warnings i have read in here, i've ordered some Variegated stuff. I back up to I290 and i am trying to beautify the IDOT property behind my home.... so i dont mind it spreading - that's something i'm hoping for - and to possibly "choke" out weeds.

I am planting a lot of wild flowers and prairie type plants -- I dont know much about some of them, as i got them in seed swaps.

This vinca stuff will most likely get trampled a lot - as me and the neighbor run our dogs back there.

so - i guess my question is.... will this vinca fit the bill, or am i making a huge mistake?



Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

vinca should do just fine if the area is as you describe it....It is considered an invasive (and is) but where you are talking about I would go ahead and plant it.

Cicero, IL(Zone 5a)

Dear tcs1366,

Most variegated plants will not be as vigorous or fast-spreading as those that are not since they do not contain as much chlorophyll - some exceptions are variegated dogwood which still has an amazing growth rate. In fact, you may end up having the opposite problem here in our zone with parts of it dying off at times.

In my experience, the variegated plants have a harder time making it through less then ideal conditions (wet winters, hot, dry summers and other stress) and are more prone to dieback and disease even after establishing themselves. On the positive, regular vinca is very invasive and by substituting a variegated variety you may eliminate that problem.

If you've ordered them, by all means go ahead and plant. Although, I would try using it as a colorful accent throughout the garden rather than a whole entire bed. You could always mix in other groundcovers and low-growing specimens, native or non-invasive non-natives. This way if some of it dies off it's not going to leave a big hole.

Other groundcovers to try:

If you've got sun try using: Prairie smoke, Wild petunia (Ruellia humilis), Creeping jenny, Bronze ajuga, Pennsylvania sedge (works in sun & shade), Moonbeam coreopsis (grows to about 18" and will seed and spread by rhizomes), Thyme (the plain old vegetable garden variety is the most vigorous and hardy), Canadian anenome, creeping red sedum 'Dragon's Blood', Prairie Sundrops (Oenothera pilosella), Sweet White Alyssum (Annual but will reseed), Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum - grows 1 ft and seeds), Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifosa)

For shade: Wild ginger, Sweet woodruff (Galium), Creeping jenny, Bronze ajuga, Pennsylvania sedge, Wood sedge (Carex blanda), Virginia waterleaf, Pulmonaria, Brunnera, Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata), Canadian anenome (Anenome canadensis), Windflower (Anenome sylvestris), Liriope spicata, Crested iris (Iris cristata), Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium reptens - will reseed and spread in a good spot), Barren strawberry

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Great!! thanks for all that info.

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

Try . I was also looking for some inexpensive groundcover, and they have bare root liriope for 87-cents per plant! I ordered 100 plants for just $87. The shipping on these is free. I haven't received the plants yet, but the company is listed in the Garden Watchdog Top 30 list, and they received good feedback in different forums. It will take a little longer for these particular plants to fill out, but I have more time than money right now, I was excited to find this site.

Their website is VERY user-friendly too. They make it easy to search for plants by hardiness zone, sun exposure, growth rate, etc.

Good luck!

Ronan, MT

If vinca is "invasive", then so is every other plant on the planet. It can in no way be considered invasive except that it grows. I imagine you want that, don't you? I've had it for years and it's very easy to control and the best for large areas...but hardly inexpensive.

Cedar Falls, IA(Zone 4b)


Invasive means that it has a tendency to spread to the point where it crowds out indigenous plants, and becomes a monoculture. Not all plants are invasive, and while many plants that are grown where they lack their indigenous checks (insects, diseases, etc.) have the potential to be invasive, many non-native plants are comparatively tame. It is only a handful of non-native plants that become truly problematic, and only in certain ecosystems rather than everywhere. In the upper midwest, where tcs1366 lives, vinca minor is considered an invasive, but not one of the truly major invasives. You are in a region where a plant like vinca minor would be much less likely to be problematic, since you get so much less rainfall (& are possibly in zone 3 & if you live at a higher elevation that might be a factor on top of these limiting conditions). So for you to say that it isn't a problem where you live, is fine, but not something that is generalizable to other regions. I'd guess that you don't have nearly as many exotic invasives given your climate, and more alkaline soil. I could grow Kudzu or bermuda grass where I am, and they wouldn't be much problem, but they are horribly invasive further South with their milder winters.

Many of the non-native ground covers deciduous ground covers are, as they are selected by landscapers and the nursery trade to spread quickly and completely, and much of the nursery trade doesn't concern itself much with the impacts of selling known invasives.


If it is IDOT land, you might want to check to see if they have a native roadside planting program and might be willing to cover the costs of planting natives on the land if they had volunteers to do the planting. Even if they don't GoNative's suggestions will produce a much prettier 'beautification' than a monoculture of vinca minor.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

dkm -- thanks for the input.

the land in question, my DH calls a piece of property. IDOT can not even access it without taking down a portion of fence... and in the 6 yrs i have been here..i have not seen them once. It is completely land locked, highway on one side [with the large barrier fence] and 2 subdivisions ... and since it is not visible to anyone, with the exception of the 3 homeowners [myself and the 2 homes to the north of me] IDOT will not do anything with it. They just told us we can use it, just dont put any permanent structures [garages, inground pools, etc]

I'm not so worried about the vinca i planted, as it does not look like it has even grown in the months i planted it.... but I do think the naturalizing lilies will have to go... i never realized how invasive they are until Equilibrium told me about them.

I'm learning -- slowly, about native plants and will be planting more of them that i grow by seed.

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

i have vinca minor around my house in spots. here i wouldn't consider it invasive because it doesn't grow in too much shade or too much sun, it's just spotty here and there. i guess it might be invasive in certain spots that it likes.
if you could just burn it off you might be surprised at what beautiful natives come back.

East Peoria, IL

Hi, I'm looking for some landscaping advise. I am very very new at this, and don't have a big budget, but I certainly have a big mess to tackle. We recently bought a home on a hill. A hill of clay and 'crab' grass, with a few hundred moles, a former doggie, and some very confused and sad garden areas. I need some advise on how to try and spruce up my yard, on a sad little budget.

Basically, I'm looking for some pretty ground cover (I think there's purple plant that is native to the area. It needs to be hardy, grow fast, and be able to tolerate full sun exposer.

Any advise is welcome! Thanks! Jules

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Periwinkle - vinca would do the trick. the lil flowers in the spring are very pretty. Mine are in bloom now. I have yet to find it invasive / a nuisance

another one that is supposed to cover quickly -- but i'm not sure if it has flowers or not is Wintercreeper.

Minneapolis, MN(Zone 4b)

If you are looking for native plants Prairie Moon Nursery In Minnesota (not Wisconsin) is an excellent place. I live in MN and get most of my native plant seed from them.

Any of you should check for a native plant source for you area though. What I did for my first native garden area was to call Prairie Moon tell them what I was looking from and they suggested a native seed mix for me to plant.

The preparation is the most important part. Sowing them in the fall late enough so they won't germinate is the best time.

Buy plants themselves is never cheap. You can do a lot with seed.

I am sold on native plants. They have adapted to the climate and will do the best for you as long as you choose the seed or plants for your growing conditions. Wet, dry, clay, sand, shade, sun etc.

Braidwood, IL

I'm thinking of planting vinca in a small area that is bordered by sidewalk, so there is no chance it will spread to any other areas of my property. I do have daylilies and orientals in this patch of space though. Is is possible for the vinca to choke out the lilies? Also, this area is already covered with creeping charlie. I cannot get rid of it, no matter how much I pull out. Will the vinca choke out this weed groundcover?

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

I have vinca minor growing as living mulch in a couple of my flowerbeds. It is slowly spreading but has not choked out any of my other plants (azalea, iris, daylilies, milkweed, butterfly weed, ferns, etc.) Where it tries to hop the landscape timbers, we just keep it at bay with the weedeater. This is in north and east flowerbeds.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I also have Vinca minor .... it's spreading faster in some areas than others, but i'm also finding it easy to 'contain'. And no, it has not choked anything out. my hopes is to also have it as a 'living mulch' - but i've only had it 2 or 3 yrs now.

Portland, OR(Zone 8a)

Michiline, maybe you could start a petition with your neighbors and anyone that drives by and is interseted. maybe you'd need a permit to put up a sign. I agree in a previous post about getting volunteers to help, maybe there's a native plant group, or a university that's willing to help. Also I do know someone that got a permit or something from the county allowing him to put an access gate in his backyard leading directly to a state park. I took a lot of convincing on his part, but it worked.
Maybe take some pictures and start talking with anyone that will listen. Maybe a drawing of some ideas would help get people interested. Many people are visual or just need to know that's a not a wishy-washy sor of thing. Is it possible that TN,county, or city would convert this into parkland. I think that starts with a petition and goes on the next voting ballot. Maybe some other DG'ers have run into the same problem, or that might know the laws in TN.

Good Luck,

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

Hmmmm--we seem to have lost Michiline. No posts since Feb 20. Apparently she considered this "solved" at that point. Oh well, it turned into a pretty good conversation :-}

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

>>Hmmmm--we seem to have lost Michiline. No posts since Feb 20.

.... of 2007

got to admit... i love talking ground covers... and the cheaper the better. ya figure, when you have a lot of space to fill in, if the plant is not speedy at filling in, you need a lot of plants.

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

ROFL! I didn't even notice that someone had resurrected a post from two years ago!

I need lots of ground covers on my place too and I agree, the cheaper the better. However, I've found one that looks very promising for a steep hill we need to cover. I haven't found a "cheap" source yet and probably won't but it's evergreen and grows indefinitely which means I can buy a few and then keep taking new starts from each plant. It's sedum dasyphyllum major. I believe I found some online at Stepables but haven't ordered yet because I was hoping to find a local source.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

sedum dasyphyllum major -- oh... that is interesting. i've never seen that before.
and i just love the Stepables site.

I have sedum acre ... speads like a weed, low growing, i walk on it all the time, cute lil yellow flowers.


Springfield, IL

I bought a house that has a fairly steep incline out front. I tried mowing it last year, but it's too much. I am in central Illinois. The soil here is rich beyond belief, so anything that can stand somewhat cold winters grows.
I am thinking of putting a couple of colorful flowering groundcovers on it, but I need your advice. Also, it is full sun and has this horrible Foysia grass on it now....too ugly!
Question: would Creeping Red Seduim/Sedum spurium be acceptable? Would Snow in Summer work with it to make a red and white combination? Am I crazy?
And would the groundcover crowd out the Foysia grass or do I have to take that sod up before planting?

This message was edited Apr 15, 2009 10:11 AM

Braidwood, IL

I have a small patio area and pathway made of flagstones on a crushed gravel base that is surrounded on 3 sides by garden areas. Is there any sort of groundcover I can plant to choke out the weeds that keep coming up between the flagstones. I don't want the ground cover to be too high (1/2 inch max), and don't want it to be invasive and spread to the garden areas. I've seen ads for groundcovers, but would like to get some input before planting. One of the groundcovers I've seen in several catalogs is Irish moss.

Dighton, MA(Zone 6a)

Plushweasel I like sagina subulata (Scotch Moss). It's super soft to the touch and has little white flowers in summer. It is not at all invasive in fact if you need to spread it more you can clip some off and put equal parts buttermilk and water put it the blender and spread it in the areas where you want it to grow. The only problem I ran into is my plants got winter burn but I was reading in another forum (from a women in Canada) that you just need to cover it with leaves or straw in the winter.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

rae--The buttermilk trick is for real moss...contrary to its common name, Sagina subulata is a regular plant not a moss.

plushweasels--What's the sun/shade situation? That's going to be a huge factor in which groundcovers would be the right choice.

Dighton, MA(Zone 6a)

Thanks ecrane!! I was going to try it this week!! I'm so glad you told me so I wouldn't waste the time and effort!!!

Braidwood, IL

Hi ecrane, the area goes from part sun (often dappled sunlight coming through the trees) to mostly shade. There are a couple of trees surrounding the area, which causes some portions to get more shade than others.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

plush.... i'd think the moss would work very well.

have you ever checked out
Irish Moss is on their Top Ten list ....

and if you use their "search for plants" you can click things like zone, height and usage to find the perfect plant.



Sacramento, CA

I'm sorry if I'm doing this wrong, but I'm completely new to this website. What I'm trying to find out is if one can buy seed for baby's tears. I have a lot of ground to cover and to buy flats of this ground cover would be extremely expensive. Can anyone help me with this? Thank you.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Sometimes when a user is new to Daves, they are a bit over whelmed with it's "size" and dont know where to do to ask.... so ya just have to wing it.

here is the link to the Plant Files .... very useful tool here on Daves

read all the reviews... looks like this plant dies back when it gets too dry....

According to the details, you can grow it by seed... i'm looking for a source....

BTW -- Huge Welcome to Daves Garden!!


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