Drought-Tolerant Groundcovers

Question: What are some groundcover plants that don’t require much water?


Bearberry (Acrtostaphylos uva-ursi) is an evergreen plant that forms a dense mat 6 to 12 inches tall and 15 inches wide. Prefers full sun or light shade. Doesn’t need fertilizer or clipping once it is established, but it is a slow grower and can be hard to transplant. Hardy to USDA Zone 3.

Creeping lily-turf (Liriope spicata) is a grasslike plant with evergreen foliage that turns bronze in the winter. Plants grow 8 to 12 inches high and wide. Prefers part or full shade. A tough plant that spreads by underground stems and can be very aggressive. Zone 4 to 10.

Violets (Viola spp.) can form an effective groundcover in partial shade. Foliage dies down to the ground over the winter. Forms colonies by self-sowing.

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

Bearberry makes a nice evergreen groundcover for dry sites, but it can be a slow grower.

Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) is a perennial for sunny sites. Grows under a foot tall. Spreads by underground stems and by seed if the spent flowers are not removed in summer. Spreads most quickly in cooler climates. Does not tolerate humidity or very hot summers. Zones 3 to 7.

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One thought on “Drought-Tolerant Groundcovers

  1. Three other great drought-tolerant ground covers are liriope muscari such as ‘big blue’ and ‘variegated’, as well as epimedium (Barrenwort), specifically E. x sulphureum which is the toughest of epimedium’s for dry shade, even under large, thirsty trees. All the these perennials have nodule’s on their roots that hold water making them suitable for using in dry shade. Another thing to think about when planting under trees with shallow fibrous roots such as Maple’s, can make planting extremely difficult. I live in CT and through trial and error I have found that these three plants work excellent under these conditions.

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