Ground covers are valuable in special sites where turf grass will not thrive, where regular turf maintenance (mowing) is a problem, or where a diversity of color and texture are desirable. Use of woody shrubs, vines, and herbaceous perennials as ground covers has become increasingly popular in residential and commercial landscapes and along highways. They can be deciduous or evergreen, broadleaved or needle-leaved, three feet tall or ground huggers. Most of the time, ground covers serve to refine gardens, to give that final perfect look to an already well-planned landscape.
Most native Kentucky groundcovers are understory plants that need a shady, protected area. For plants strictly native to Kentucky you may want to research the plants listed on the Kentucky Native Plant Society web page: http://www.knps.org/
The University of Kentucky recommends the following list of ground covers. These plants are all hardy in Kentucky.
SUN (More than 5 hours per day)
Low-Growing (Less than 12 inches tall):
Aegopodium podagraria (Goutweed, Bishop's Weed)
Ajuga reptans (Ajuga, Carpet Bugle)
Artemesia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound' (Silver Mound Artemesia)
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Blue Ceratostigma)
Clematis paniculata (Sweet Autumn Clematis)
Cotoneaster dammeri 'Lowfast,''Skogholm' (Bearberry Cotoneaster)
C. salicifolia (Willowleaf Cotoneaster)
Euonymus fortunei (Big Leaf Wintercreeper)
Forsythia viridissima 'Bronxensis' (Bronx Forsythia)
Geranium spp. (Cranesbill, Hardy Geranium)
Hedera helix (English Ivy)
Iberis sempervirens (Perennial Candytuft)
Juniperus chinensis (Chinese Juniper) Many cultivars
J. conferta (Shore Juniper) Many cultivars
J. horizontalis (Creeping Juniper) Many cultivars
Lonicera x brownii 'Dropmore Scarlet' (Brown's Honeysuckle)
L. x heckrottii (Goldflame Honeysuckle)
L. japonica 'Halliana' (Hall's Honeysuckle)
L. sempervirens (Trumpet Honeysuckle)
Lysimachia nummalaria (Moneywort)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper, Woodbine)
P. tricuspidata (Japanese Creeper, Boston Ivy)
Paxistima canbyii (Canby Paxistima)
Phlox subulata (Moss pink, Ground pink)
Polygonum affine (Himalayan Fleeceflower)
Rosa wichuriana (Memorial Rose)
Sedum spp. (Stonecrop)
Thymus spp. (Thyme)
Veronica spp. (Vervain, Garden Verbena) Select species with prostrate forms.
Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.
Let me know if I can help you further!
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
810 Barret Ave
Louisville KY 40204