The best plants for ground cover

Well-planned garden at Caroline Sagwe’s home in Athi River. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Caroline’s front porch is neatly laid with small perennial plants which makes it look immaculate and well-spaced.

Are you tired of pruning and weeding your lawn and flowers beds every so often? Then try replacing those expensive, high-maintenance plants with environmentally-friendly ground cover plants that are both inexpensive and require little care even during the rainy season, like we are currently experiencing.

Caroline Sagwe knows this only too well after trying her luck with large plants in her ¼-acre garden at Green Park estate in Athi River.

The area, which mostly experiences hot weather, was not conducive for the plants which require frequent watering. That is when, with the help of a landscaper, she settled for ground cover plants.

Small size

These are miniature plants that grow only to a certain height and do not take up a big part of your garden because of their small size.

As the name suggests, ground cover plants, like grass, lie flat on the ground to cover up any barren patches and awkward spaces in your garden. Just like climbers, these plants grow horizontally and spread across your garden, serving as alternatives to grass.

Most provide rapid cover that helps suppress germination of weeds, and grow well in slopes and rocky areas where grass normally doesn’t do well. Most times, these plants work best when you have a small garden as they do not crowd the area.

Caroline’s front porch is neatly laid with small perennial plants which makes it look immaculate and well-spaced. If you want to have a great view of the garden from any corner of the house, then these are the best bet for you.

They are also easy to work with since they do not require regular trimming; you will only need to weed and water them. They might seem small but some ground plants need to be watered regularly, especially the succulent varieties which need water to maintain their thick and fleshy appearance.

Potted plants

If you need ground plants in your backyard, then one can place the larger plants in pots and arrange them at various points of the garden as long as they are not obscuring your view.

Ground plants also work well when they are grouped together in small paddles or on rock gardens as they make good focal points.

“They are available in various colours so when bundled together, they make beautiful gardens by themselves,” says Michael Kabiah of Mika Landscapers.

They can also be potted in large or small pots, and used indoors or placed on window panes or on the balcony. Most of these plants do well in dry conditions so gardeners who live in areas which do not have adequate rainfall need not worry.


These are the types of plants that are used to design messages or company names or logos in gardens as they do not overgrow. They are especially common on commercial properties.

Patterns can be made using the ground plants in residential homes, or they can be planted to run parallel to foot paths in the garden as borders.

Some of the ground cover plants available locally are the creeping blue sedum - succulent plants with small leaves - mixed caladiums, hens and chicks as well as a variety of creeping phlox and lantana which come in various attractive colours.

Kill weeds

They are inexpensive and readily available in most nurseries in the city.

“One of the most important points to note is that one needs to prepare the land on which you will plant the ground cover plants by levelling it and laying a black polythene bag to kill the weeds,” says Kabiah.

This, he explains, is because most ground cover plants are creepers and it is hard to weed them when they are on the ground.

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