Elevate Your UK Garden with These Must-Have Ground Cover Plants - 9 Options

Posted on 22/05/2024

Creating a beautiful and vibrant garden in the UK can be a challenge, especially with its unpredictable weather conditions. However, there are ground cover plants that can not only add an aesthetically pleasing touch to your garden, but also help with weed control, moisture retention, and erosion prevention. These low-growing plants spread across the ground, providing a natural and lush carpet-like appearance. In this article, we will introduce you to 9 must-have ground cover plants that will elevate your UK garden.

Ivy (Hedera helix)

One of the most popular and versatile ground cover plants is ivy. This evergreen plant is known for its fast growth rate and ability to thrive in various growing conditions. It produces dense foliage, making it perfect for suppressing weeds and preventing soil erosion. Ivy comes in different varieties such as English ivy, Algerian ivy, and Boston ivy, each with its own unique leaf shape and color. It can be grown on walls, trellises, or left to crawl on the ground, adding texture and depth to your garden.

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Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum)

For a fragrant and colorful addition to your garden, consider planting creeping thyme. This low-growing perennial herb produces tiny pink or purple flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer. It thrives in well-drained soils and full sun exposure. Not only does creeping thyme add beauty to your garden, but it also attracts bees and butterflies, making it beneficial for pollination.

Ajuga (Ajuga reptans)

Ajuga is another popular choice for ground cover due to its ability to thrive in shaded areas. It produces dark green leaves with small blue flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer. This plant is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and requires minimal maintenance once established. Its dense growth habit helps in weed control and also provides ground cover for birds and small mammals.

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Known for its delicate and sweetly scented white flowers, lily of the valley is a beautiful addition to any garden. It prefers partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. This plant spreads rapidly through its rhizomes, forming a dense carpet-like ground cover. It is also deer-resistant, making it a great choice for gardens in areas with high deer population.

Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster dammeri)

Cotoneaster is a low-growing evergreen shrub that produces glossy dark green leaves and clusters of bright red berries in the fall. It is highly versatile and can be used as ground cover or grown as a low hedge. This plant is drought tolerant and can thrive in both full sun and partial shade.

Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis)

Pachysandra is an evergreen perennial that grows well in shaded areas with moist, well-drained soil. It produces dark green leaves with white flowers that bloom in early spring. This plant is not only an excellent ground cover option, but it also acts as a natural weed barrier.

Heuchera (Heuchera sanguinea)

For a pop of color in your garden, consider planting heuchera. This perennial plant produces vibrant foliage in shades of purple, pink, or green. It thrives in partial shade and well-drained soil. Heuchera also attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, adding life to your garden.

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow')

Bugleweed is a hardy ground cover plant with variegated foliage that comes in shades of burgundy, green, and pink. It produces spikes of blue flowers in late spring or early summer. This plant is an excellent choice for areas with low foot traffic and can also be used as a cover for slopes.

Vinca (Vinca minor)

Also known as periwinkle, vinca is a low-maintenance ground cover plant that produces glossy dark green leaves and purple or white flowers. It can thrive in both full sun and partial shade, making it an ideal option for different areas of your garden. However, it is important to note that this plant can become invasive if not kept under control.

Pros and Cons

Some of the pros of using ground cover plants in your garden include their ability to suppress weeds, reduce erosion, and add visual appeal to your outdoor space. They also require minimal maintenance once established and can be beneficial for pollinators. However, some cons to consider are their potential invasiveness in certain areas and the need to regularly prune to prevent overgrowth.


When choosing ground cover plants, consider the growing conditions of your garden such as sun exposure and soil type. It is also essential to research if a particular plant is invasive in your area before planting it. When planting multiple ground cover varieties together, ensure that they have similar growth habits to avoid competition. Proper spacing between plants is also crucial for optimal growth.

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Adding ground cover plants to your UK garden can provide numerous benefits while enhancing its appearance. Some key takeaways include considering the specific needs of each plant, choosing varieties that are suitable for your garden's conditions, and proper maintenance to prevent overgrowth.


In conclusion, incorporating these 9 must-have ground cover plants into your UK garden will not only elevate its aesthetic appeal but also provide practical benefits. From suppressing weeds to attracting pollinators, these low-growing plants are a great addition to any outdoor space. With proper care and consideration, you can create a lush and vibrant garden that will thrive throughout the year.
Karen McGowan
Karen McGowan

With extensive experience in the gardening industry, Karen pens diverse articles covering a broad spectrum of gardening and landscaping subjects. She has assisted numerous individuals in creating stunning garden designs.