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Shrubs to Use as Groundcovers

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Groundcover plants are used to cover the ground and to conceal all signs of soil beneath. Groundcovers can be used to smother weeds, act as a living mulch to conserve soil moisture and to hold in place, and stem soil erosion.

Low-growing shrubs can be used as groundcovers. Most are deep-rooted and longer lived than perennials used as groundcovers. Once established low-growing shrub groundcovers will likely require less maintenance than herbaceous perennial groundcovers.

Pachysandra bushes as groundcover in shaded areas

Here are shrubs well-suited to act as groundcovers:

Common NameBotanical NameZones
BearberryArctostaphylos uva-ursi2-7
Blackberry, prostrateRubus pentalobus7-9
Blueberry, lowbushVaccinium angustifolium4-9
BunchberryCornus canadensis2-7
CandytuftIberis sempervirens4-8
Cotoneaster, bearberryCotoneaster, dammeri6-9
Cotoneaster, cranberryCotoneaster apiculata5-8
Euonymus, wintercreeperEuonymus fortunei4-8
HeathErica carnea5-7
HeatherCalluna vulgaris3-8
HoneysuckleLonicera pileata5-9
Japanese spurgePachysandra terminalis4-8
Junipers, low spreadingJuniperus spp.3-9
LantanaLantana spp.8-10
Mahonia, creepingMahonia repens5-8
Purple-leaf winter creeperEuonymus fortunei‘Coloratus5-9
Roses, low spreadingRosa spp.Varies
St. JohnswortHypericum calycinum5-9

Also of interest:

Groundcovers in Garden Design

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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