Besides using mulch and rock, there is an alternative for more protected areas and can be the showiest option with the most versatility.  Plants can be effective groundcovers where other options wouldn’t look good.  Today we will discuss some groundcover plant choices and how they would work in a given landscape. 

Periwinkle, an evergreen groundcover sometimes also called Vinca is an excellent choice to hold soil and help plants thrive using only natural plant cover instead of mulch.  This vine-like perennial will spread and fill in open areas in shady conditions to create a carpet of multi-colored leaves and brilliant soft blue-purple flowers are the inspiration for the color.  This winding perennial can be a great addition to the garden and as long as its controlled, it’s a great alterative to mulch.

Sedges have a bad image as a weed, and many are indeed weeds that look like grass and take over yards.  There are a few varieties though that make great additions and they need to get more attention in my opinion.  ‘Blue Zinger’ Sedge and ‘Ice Dance’ Sedge are the two varieties I use most and they both have the same good qualities.  They each like to spread and fill in areas with their brilliant foliage and showy details giving color to places where there is very little and providing some nice ground cover in areas that are hard to maintain. 

I may be a little biased because I use this plant in my own landscape, but liriope is also a great groundcover for a shady garden corner.  This semi-evergreen grassy plant has bright purple flowers on stalks above the plant that turn to black berries in the winter and give it some winter interest.  Liriope doesn’t take long to get going, the plants at my home were planted as plugs in May and a year later are full size and filling in the shady corner I wanted them to be in.  They fully bloomed the first year and set on many berries.  These are just a few of the many alternatives to mulch or rock, but these plants are best used in small places that just need a pop of color where grass wont grow.