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Home Lawn and Turf in Mississippi

Ground Covers

Use ground covers where shade is too dense or the terrain is too rough for turfgrass. Many types of ground covers can provide color and texture differences in the landscape and keep soil in place.

Ground covers are less than 18 inches in height and generally require little maintenance once they are established. Some, such as mondo grass, resemble grass in growth form while others, such as sweetwilliams and violets, are grown as much for flower color as for the foliage.

Select ground covers to blend with the overall landscape plan. While the dark green of mondo grass or English ivy blends well with well-maintained bermudagrass or St. Augustinegrass, it contrasts sharply with carpetgrass or centipedegrass.

The following chart helps to determine how much square footage can be planted with 100 plants when spaced at various measurements.

Planting guide for ground cover
Quantity Spacings Coverage
Plants Inches apart Square feet
100 4 11
100 6 25
100 8 44
100 10 70
100 12 100
100 15 156
100 18 225
100 24 400

Number of ground-cover plants for planting areas
Square feet of
planting area
Spacing in inches in both directions
6 8 9 12 18 24
  -number of plants needed-
100 400 225 178 100 45 25
200 800 450 356 200 90 50
300 1200 675 534 300 135 75
400 1600 900 712 400 180 100
500 2000 1125 890 500 225 125
600 2400 1350 1068 600 270 150
700 2800 1575 1246 700 315 175
800 3200 1800 1425 800 360 200
900 3600 2025 1602 900 405 225
1000 4000 2250 1780 1000 450 250

Guide for selecting a ground cover and lawn substitute

Common name Botanical name Plant
Sun Part
Shade Remarks and comments
Bigleaf periwinkle Vinca major 18 inches x x x Vigorous. Spreads rapidly. Prefers some shade. Easy to establish and grow. Difficult to confine in small areas. Variegated form available.
Blue rug juniper Juniperus horizontalis
"Blue Rug"
3-4 feet x     6 inches high and 6-8 feet spread. Bright silver-blue foliage. Hugs ground more than most junipers.
Creeping phlox Phlox subulata 12 inches x x   Long-standing, excellent ground cover and rock garden plant. Propagate by seed or division. Massive flower display in spring. Flower colors are available in white, blue, pink, and fuschia.
Dwarf sweet williams Dianthus deltoides 12 inches x x   Plants spread to give full color if planted 9 inches x 9 inches. New cultivars are excellent. Brilliant flowers in spring; most are susceptible to foliar diseases.
English ivy Hedera helix 18 inches x x x Many new cultivars available. Deep-rooted. Will take sun, but needs close watering.
Mondo grass or
Little monkey grass
Ophiopogon japonica 12 inches x x x 9 inches high. Spreads by underground stolons. Vigorous, dependable; adapted to variety of soil conditions. Excellent ground cover.
Monkey grass Liriope muscari 12 inches x x x Excellent border and ground cover. Spreads slowly; space 12 inches x 12 inches for quick cover. Many varieties available, including those with variegated foliage. Responds well to fertilizers.
Sweet violets Viola odorata 9 inches   x x Many new cultivars are available. Need well-drained and high-organic matter to perform well. Try Royal Robe and White Czar.
Wild strawberry Fragaria chiloensis 18 inches x x x Excellent, vigorous ground cover for wide range of zones and soils. Easy to grow and propagate. Susceptible to spider mites. May be invasive.
*Many other ground covers are available. Consult Extension Publication 666, Selecting Landscape Plants for more information.