23 Fast Growing Ground Covers For Sloping Gardens

Are you looking for some fast growing ground cover to fill in the sloping space in your garden? If you have a sloping area to fill in, you likely know that not everything grows well on the side of a hill or steep slope. In this article, we take a look at our favorite ground cover plants that will fill in the harsh sloping areas of your garden, with names and pictures of each!

ground covers for slopes

Choosing the best ground cover plants for slopes and hillsides can be challenging. Some ground covers will wash away almost as fast as you plant them. Luckily, there are plenty of ground cover plants that grow quickly, and can withstand heavier rainfall, even in sloping garden areas..

One of the benefits of growing a fast growing ground cover is that the quicker they can establish a sturdy root system, the better they can hold their place. Many ground covers also make great companion plants, allowing you to create a beautiful sloping hillside design in your garden.

If you’ve struggled trying to find the right plant for the hilly areas in your garden, you’ve come to the right place. There are many different ground covers with a rapid growth rate and can establish themselves in garden areas that have a sloping grade. Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of ground covers that will establish themselves quickly, and add some visual interest to any sloping garden area. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in!

Asiatic Jasmine

Trachelospermum asiaticum
Asiatic Jasmine produces incredibly fragrant white flowers.
Scientific Name: Trachelospermum asiaticum
  • Plant Type: Perennial vine
  • Geographic Origin: Japan, Korea
  • Plant Size: 6-10 feet spread
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Plant Zone: 7-9

Despite its common name, Asiatic Jasmine isn’t in the Jasmine genus (Jasminum) but gets its name for its fragrant flowers. Unlike jasmine vines or shrubs, Trachelospermum asiaticum makes an excellent ground cover. It features dense, low-growing foliage with small, star-shaped flowers when spring arrives.

This beautiful and hardy ground cover becomes nearly maintenance-free once it’s established. It can tolerate drought, doesn’t suffer from serious diseases or pests, and is salt-tolerant.

Asiatic Jasmine can withstand most soil conditions so long as there’s good drainage, although it prefers soils with lots of organic matter.

Barrenwort

Epimedium
Barrenwort is a perennial groundcover that thrives in shady conditions.
Scientific Name: Epimedium
  • Plant Type: Perennial, ground cover
  • Geographic Origin: Asia, Mediterranean
  • Plant Size: 8-12 inches tall and 12-36 inches wide
  • Sun Exposure: Partial, shade
  • Plant Zone: 5-8

Barrenwort, or Epimedium, is a family of plants well-known for its lush carpeting growth. Woodland conditions like its habitat allow this perennial to thrive. Epimedium thrives in shady conditions, so if your sloping garden area has trees blocking the sun, this may be a perfect choice.

Most plants in this genus feature arrow or heart-shaped leaves with red markings. In the spring, the dense green foliage blooms stunning pale-purple flowers that resemble butterfly wings.

Bunchberry

Cornus canadensis
Bunchberry is a fast-growing groundcover with attractive white flowers.
Scientific Name: Cornus canadensis
  • Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 4-9 inches tall with a 6-inch to 1-foot spread
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Shade
  • Plant Zone: 2-6

Bunchberry plants make excellent ground covers in moist woodland gardens and produce attractive flowers before they fruit. Spreading rapidly with its underground root runners, this flat-creeping plant will offer you a garden makeover in no time.

Its eye-catching foliage features whorls of leaves that are shiny green in the spring and summer and fade to dark red in autumn. Cornus canadensis attracts pollinating insects, like butterflies, but thankfully doesn’t attract pests like rabbits or deer.

Dianthus

D. plumarius
Dianthus are flowering perennials that bloom with incredibly beautiful white, pink, lilac and yellow flowers.
Scientific Name: D. plumarius, D. superbus, D. deltoides
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe, Asia, Africa
  • Plant Size: 6-36 inches tall and 6-24 in. wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

It can be easy to get confused when searching for dianthus plants because there are over 300 species to choose from. It’s essential to select a variety that matches your hardiness zone. These dainty low-growing perennial plants feature attractive bluish-gray foliage that will brighten your garden even when not in bloom.

Despite one of their common names, “Pinks,” Dianthus’ jagged-edged blooms may be pink, red, rose, lilac, white, yellow, or bi-colored. These hardy perennials can thrive in various conditions, though they bloom best when they receive plenty of sunlight and weekly watering.

Creeping Juniper

Juniperus horizontalis
Creeping Juniper is a low-maintenance perennial that is drought tolerant and can grow in most soil types.
Scientific Name: Juniperus horizontalis
  • Plant Type: Evergreen shrub
  • Geographic Origin: North regions of North America
  • Plant Size: Up to one foot tall and 10 feet spread
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-9

Suppose you don’t enjoy spending all day maintaining your garden, or you aren’t a fan of mowing the lawn. If so, Creeping Juniper could be an excellent choice.

Many gardeners love incorporating Creeping Juniper for its fast growth and minimal maintenance. The drought-tolerant shrub can thrive in most soil types.

This low-growing shrub is popular to use as a ground cover, but it’s important to note that it won’t cope well with high footfall. The hardy, low-growing shrub is often used as an alternative ground cover because it can thrive on rocky slopes and help prevent erosion.

Creeping Myrtle

Vinca minor
Creeping Myrtle is a beautiful groundcover that produces blue spring flowers.
Scientific Name: Vinca minor
  • Plant Type: Evergreen perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe
  • Plant Size: up to 6 inches tall with trailing vines up to 18 inches long
  • Sun Exposure: Full, partial, shade
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Creeping Myrtle makes an attractive flowering ground cover and is fast-growing, low-maintenance, pest-free, and tough. Also known as periwinkle, its creeping habit and blue spring flowers make this evergreen perennial an excellent choice for any garden.

Its sprawling habit of pushing out roots makes Creeping Myrtle a good choice for hillsides, slopes, or other garden areas where rainfall cause erosion.

Additionally, as they spread, they can help to hold the soil in place. These low-growers can quickly choke out weeds while filling large areas with a flowery carpet. They are also drought tolerant and love the shade.

Creeping Phlox

 Phlox stolonifera
Creeping Phlox blooms in late spring with fragrant, small, five-petalled flowers that attract butterflies to the garden.
Scientific Name: Phlox stolonifera
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America
  • Plant Size: 6-12 inches tall and 9-18 inches wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Plant Zone: 5-9

Creeping phlox is a low-growing, mat-forming plant that spreads as a ground cover in rock gardens and even in crevices of stone walls. You can enjoy fragrant clusters of small five-petal flowers in the late spring and summer. The blooms attract butterflies to your garden.

While the flowers are no longer in bloom, the green foliage remains an attractive green for most of the year before it dies back in winter.

This low-maintenance plant doesn’t require much aside from watering during periods of drought. If you notice any pesky weeds trying to pop through, remove them as soon as possible.

Creeping Thyme

Thymus
Creeping Thyme is a low-growing creeper that attracts with its minty scent and beautiful purple, pink or white flowers.
Scientific Name: Thymus spp.
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous, woody perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe
  • Plant Size: 2-6 inches tall and 6-18 inches wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 2-9

Thymus spp. is a mint family species consisting of over 300 varieties of woody perennials. Though not all types are grown as herbs, you can still enjoy the attractive mint scent. Although some thyme species grow shrub-like, many low-growing creeping plants have a vine-like growth habit.

This plant features pointed bluish-green leaves that gently blanket the ground. In the summer, it blooms various flower colors, including purple, pink, and white, depending on your chosen type.

Creeping Thyme grows best in well-draining soil and seems to thrive in poor soil conditions. If the stems take over, prune them back to create new growth. Over time, they may become woody.

Creeping Zinnia

Sanvitalia procumbens
Creeping Zinnia has pointed oval leaves and miniature flowers resembling sunflowers.
Scientific Name: Sanvitalia procumbens
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous annual
  • Geographic Origin: Central America (Mexico, Guatemala)
  • Plant Size: 4-6 inches tall and 12-18 inches wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full to part sun
  • Plant Zone: 2–11 (true annual, grown in all USDA zones)

Despite the name, Creeping Zinnia is not in the same genus as true Zinnia, Zinnia spp. It gets its common name from the pointed, oval-shaped leaves with a solid resemblance to zinnias.

Creeping Zinnia features delicate green foliage and dainty flowers that resemble miniature sunflowers or daisies. They have a long bloom period and can be shades of yellow or orange.

Creeping zinnias are low-growing annuals with a spreading nature, ideal for use as a ground cover. These easy-to-grow plants can grow in partial shade or full sun, as long as they get plenty of water (but not soggy) and have moderately fertile soil.

False Rock Cress

Aubrieta
False Rock Cress is a fast-growing groundcover that produces lush purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Aubrieta spp.
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Southwestern Europe
  • Plant Size: 4-6 inches tall with 12-to 24-inch spread
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

False Rock Cress is a cheerful ground cover that can work well for edging or as a fast-growing plant for slopes. When its lush magenta blooms die out, you will be left with handsome grayish-green foliage covering large sloped areas of your garden.

Aubrieta spp. thrives when it gets well-draining, alkaline soil, and sunny location. By the middle of summer, they can benefit from a good pruning.

Once your plant is established, you won’t need much to keep up with this drought-tolerant plant. It doesn’t have any significant disease or pest issues.

Fern Moss

Thuidium delicatulum
Fern Moss grows well on rocky and compacted soil.
Scientific Name: Thuidium delicatulum
  • Plant Type: Pleurocarpous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: North America, Asia, Europe, and South America
  • Plant Size: Up to 2 feet tall with up to 18-inch spread
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
  • Plant Zone: 3-11

Fern moss isn’t for everyone, but it can give your garden a unique look with its lush, green, fern-like spread. A few moss species within the Thuidiaceae family are called Fern moss. As the name suggests, it produces branches that resemble the traditional fern plant.

Thuidium delicatulum works well in difficult growing conditions like rocky or compacted soils, slopes, or hillsides where turf could get destroyed by erosion.

After it’s established, you won’t need to water it often. Even in drought, Fern Moss can absorb moisture from the air. However, it will enjoy light watering if it starts to look dry.

Japanese Pachysandra

Pachysandra terminalis
Japanese Pachysandra is an evergreen perennial that is used as a groundcover as it helps control weeds.
Scientific Name: Pachysandra terminalis
  • Plant Type: Evergreen perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Japan, Korea, and China
  • Plant Size: 8-12 inches high
  • Sun Exposure: Full shade
  • Plant Zone: 4-8

Japanese Pachysandra is a tough plant that is tolerant of challenging conditions. One main benefit of this evergreen perennial is its effective weed control. These plants effectively benefit as a ground cover as they spread via rhizomes to form a dense mat over chosen areas in your garden.

Although Pachysandra terminalis is an evergreen plant, it is herbaceous because they lack woody stems. The foliage won’t die in winter; it’ll only yellow some.

This fast-growing perennial can cover ground quickly. If you want this plant confined to one area, dig up the runners annually to keep the spread under control.

Lilyturf

L. muscari
Lilyturf is a drought-tolerant groundcover that prevents soil erosion.
Scientific Name: Liriope spicata or L. muscari
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: East and Southeast Asia
  • Plant Size: 9-18 inches tall and 12-24 inch spread
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Plant Zone: 4-10

Lilyturf, also known as Liriope, is a tough, drought-tolerant ground cover that resembles grass. However, it’s a herbaceous perennial that resides in the asparagus family.

It makes an attractive ground cover that works well to prevent erosion and help with weed control. They’ll bless you with spikes of white or lavender flowers in late summer or early fall.

Liriope grows and spreads rapidly, mainly when it receives plenty of water and regular fertilization. However, it’s considered invasive in some locations. Liriope spicata can tolerate most soil types, even clay or sandy soils. Plant Lilyturf a foot apart to account for its spreading nature.

Mazus

Mazus reptans
Mazus has lush green foliage and blooms in spring with bluish-purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Mazus reptans
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Central Asia (Himalayas)
  • Plant Size: 2-3 inches tall and 6-12 inches wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Plant Zone: 5-8

Mazus is lush, green foliage that will brighten your yard all year long, so long as you live in a warmer climate. In the spring, it features clusters of dainty bluish-purple flowers. These tiny flowers will form a dense mat across the bright green leaves as it quickly grows.

Mazus reptans prefer moist, fertile soil in a sunny location, though they can adapt to just about any soil or light condition. However, it may not flower as much in a shady spot. Keep this plant consistently moist but not overly wet; weekly watering will allow it to thrive.

Mondo Grass

Ophiopogon japonicus
Mondo Grass is a low-growing herbaceous plant that thrives well in both sun and shade.
Scientific Name: Ophiopogon japonicus
  • Plant Type: Evergreen perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Plant Size: 5-6 inches tall and 1-2 feet wide
  • Sun Exposure: Indirect sunlight to shade
  • Plant Zone: 5-10

Mondo grass is a low-growing grassy ground cover that bears a resemblance to turfgrass. Ornamental grasses with a running habit, like Mondo grass, work well to stabilize slopes.

Although Ophiopogon japonicus can do well with some light, it thrives with filtered sunlight or shade, making it an excellent option for areas with too much tree coverage for other plants.

Also known as “Monkey Grass,” this evergreen perennial prefers regular, even water but can tolerate drought after it’s established. The soil type doesn’t matter much, though it’ll thrive best with loose, loamy soil.

Mountain Cornflower

Centaurea montana
Mountain Cornflower blooms in spring and summer with lacy blue or purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Centaurea montana
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall and 12-18 inches wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

Also known as “Perennial Cornflower,” Mountain Cornflower is a popular purple flowering species related to the traditional Cornflower plant. This clump-forming ground cover features grayish-green lance-shaped leaves and tiny flower buds that look like pineapples.

It bears lacy blue, white, or purple blooms in the spring and summer. However, it may take up to a couple of years for the flowers to establish.

Mountain Cornflower is a low-maintenance plant that only requires well-drained soil and the removal of new shoots every few years.

Purple Heart

Tradescantia pallida 'Purpurea'
Purple Heart has magnificent purple stems and beautiful pink flower buds.
Scientific Name: Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Mexico
  • Plant Size: 12-18 inches tall and wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Plant Zone: 7-10

Aptly named, Purple Heart produces iconic purple stems that feature elegant flower clusters that may be pink, violet, or a shade of the two.

Despite the pretty blooms, its vibrant foliage is the real feature of this plant. The leaves, stems, and upper surfaces are royal purple or sometimes a shade of turquoise-gray.

Gardeners grow Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’ in warm climates as an evergreen perennial. In more excellent areas, it’s grown as an annual. It’s important to note that Purple Heart is toxic to pets and humans and can cause contact dermatitis.

Rocky Stonecrop

Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’
Rocky Stonecrop is an evergreen perennial plant with greenish-yellow needle-like foliage.
Scientific Name: Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe, Turkey
  • Plant Size: 4-6 inches tall and 1-3 feet wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Plant Zone: 5a-9a

Rocky Stonecrop, also known as ‘Angelina’ Stonecrop, is an evergreen perennial with succulent foliage that forms a low-growing mat.

This cultivar features golden or chartreuse needle-like foliage. During the summer, it bears small, yellow flowers. In the fall, the yellow fades to a rust or orange tone.

For Rocky Stonecrop to thrive, it’s best to plant it in a sunny area with dry to moderately moist, well-draining soil. However, this herbaceous perennial can tolerate rocky or sandy soils as well.

Spotted Dead Nettle

Lamium maculatum
Spotted Dead Nettle grows well in shady areas of the garden, and has silver foliage and purple flowers.
Scientific Name: Lamium maculatum
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous, perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Europe, North Africa, West Asia
  • Plant Size: 6-9 inches tall and 12-24 inches wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 4-8

Spotted Dead Nettle is a popular perennial ground cover that grows well in the shade and can fill in patches or slopes that would otherwise be bare. They may be evergreen in warmer regions or sheltered areas of your yard. Elsewhere, they are more likely to be herbaceous, semi-evergreen plants.

Gardeners typically opt for the Spotted Dead Nettle plant for its silvery leaves rather than their blooms, though the purple flowers also add an eye-catching element. Lamium maculatum is a creeping plant listed as invasive in some states.

Sprawling Wire Vine                                   

Muehlenbeckia axillaris
Sprawling Wire Vine is an evergreen plant that is used as a groundcover on slopes to prevent erosion. 
Scientific Name: Muehlenbeckia axillaris
  • Plant Type: Prostrate evergreen shrub
  • Geographic Origin: New Zealand and Australia
  • Plant Size: 2-4 inches tall with a 30-inch spread
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 5-9

Sprawling Wire Vine is a sprawling dwarf shrub with distinctive foliage of small, round leaves attached to wire-like stems. It’s a hardy evergreen that makes a beautiful ground cover. Because it’s such a tough plant, it works well on slopes to prevent erosion.

This plant is fast-growing and doesn’t require much maintenance to thrive. It’s not picky about soil types and can handle various light conditions. However, be sure not to overwater. Additionally, Sprawling Wire Vine’s fast-spreading root system effectively keeps weeds under control.

Sweet Woodruff

Galium odoratum
Sweet Woodruff produces fragrant white star-shaped flowers.
Scientific Name: Galium odoratum
  • Plant Type: Perennial herb
  • Geographic Origin: Europe, Africa, Asia
  • Plant Size: 6-12 inches tall and 9-18 inches wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial shade
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Sweet Woodruff is a mat-forming perennial herb that many gardeners use as a ground cover for shady garden areas. It produces fragrant white clusters of star-shaped flowers in the spring. The foliage is made up of dark green lance-shaped leaves.

Galium odoratum is easy to grow and can adapt to various moisture and soil conditions. The blooms will attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. Sweet Woodruff is not only a deer-resistant perennial, but is also one of the few flowers rabbits typically ignore.

Virginia Creeper

Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Virginia Creeper is a flowering vine producing gorgeous green foliage that turns reddish-orange in autumn.
Scientific Name: Parthenocissus quinquefolia
  • Plant Type: Perennial, Vine
  • Geographic Origin: Eastern and the Central United States
  • Plant Size: 6-8 inches tall with 30-50 feet spread
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade 
  • Plant Zone: 3-10

Virginia Creeper is a relative of Boston Ivy and boasts stunning foliage that transforms from green to reddish-orange or burgundy in the fall. Although this is a flowering vine, it works well as ground cover. If you don’t use a trellis, the vine will sprawl across your yard and protect slopes from erosion.

The dark blue berries on this vine add a pop of color, but be sure not to eat them; they contain oxalic acid, which is toxic to humans.

However, birds enjoy snacking on its fruit. The sap contains needle-like oxalate crystals, irritating the skin and possibly causing a rash. Be sure to wear gloves when handling it, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Wild Ginger

Asarum canadense
Wild ginger has large green leaves, under which brown bell-shaped flowers hide.
Scientific Name: Asarum canadense
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Geographic Origin: Eastern North America, Southeastern Canada
  • Plant Size: 6 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
  • Plant Zone: 3 to 7

Wild ginger grows natively throughout the eastern United States, southeastern Canada, and parts of Asia. Despite its name, it isn’t related to the common culinary herb, Zingiber officinale. At first glance, you may not notice how remarkable this plant is.

Its brownish bell-shaped flowers hide beneath the leaves at the base of the leaves. Wild ginger has a history of being a food and medicinal purposes by Native Americans. Deer and rabbits aren’t interested in wild ginger. However, pollinating insects love this plant and will come to visit your garden.

Final Thoughts

Slopes can be challenging areas to find plants for in your garden. Without the proper ground covers, hillsides or sloping garden areas can suffer from erosion. Before choosing a quick spreading ground cover, test your soil. Also, take note of the shade in the area you plan to cover.

Always make sure you are planting for your hardiness zone or microclimate (if you live on one). If you understand your growing environment and have a clear idea of the soil and light conditions, you can easily choose the right plants for any sloping garden area!

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