A lush, green lawn is every Central Florida homeowner’s dream. But for those with a landscaper’s eye, an unbroken expanse of grass blanketing the front and back yards can look a little boring. And if your property has areas where grass has trouble growing, those bare patches detract from the beauty of the rest of your yard.
So what to do? Groundcovers can come to the rescue! Southern Living defines a groundcover as any low-growing plant (less than an inch to up to four feet in height) that can form a dense soil cover to help control erosion and suppress the growth of weeds. As Landcrafters further explains, “Groundcover plants are typically short, quick-growing perennials that don’t require all that much care or soil. Low maintenance, they’re typically referred to as an herbaceous layer (or even a regenerative layer) or a step over.”
Best of all, groundcovers are a budget-friendly addition to your lawn and garden areas that produce dramatic results in terms of aesthetic appeal – and even function! Fortunately, a wide variety of groundcovers are very well-suited for Central Florida’s climate and growing conditions. Once you learn more, you’ll be eager to get started – and get creative with the personality that groundcovers can bring to your yard!
Advantages of Using Groundcovers in Your Central Florida Landscape
Groundcovers can add interesting contrasts in texture and color to your landscape. According to University of Florida IFAS Gardening Solutions, they’re attractive in beds or open areas, and can reduce the maintenance your landscape requires. “There are groundcovers for shady areas, sunny spots, and everything in-between. They’re great for those hard-to-maintain places in your landscape, like small spaces that the mower can’t get into or steep slopes. Some groundcovers should be used alone, while others, like perennial peanut, can be incorporated into turf and even mowed.”
Groundcovers enable you to connect and merge different areas of your landscape – which is especially useful if you have a large yard. You can also use it to camouflage unsightly structures, fixtures or spaces to make your property more aesthetically pleasing. And as mentioned earlier, it’s an ideal solution for problem areas where grass won’t grow – such as wet, dry or shady spots.
Types of Groundcovers
Also as mentioned earlier, there are many types of groundcover plants to choose from. To keep from being overwhelmed by the vast selection, we’ve curated a list of the groundcovers best suited for Central Florida yards.
Asiatic Jasmine Minima – A common ground cover that you’ve probably seen numerous times without knowing what it is, Asiatic jasmine minima is a vine-like, evergreen plant that is hardy, woody and extremely drought-tolerant. Native to Japan and Korea, Asiatic jasmine minima is a low-maintenance ground cover that’s a great alternative to turfgrass. It offers a dense mat of foliage that can survive in both full-sun or full-shade environments with ample moisture. It is extensive, slow-growing and requires little care. Moreover, owing to its sturdiness, Asiatic jasmine minima is usually not subject to disease or pest issues. It can easily survive in harsh environments.
Beach Sunflower – This is one of the most common Florida groundcovers that homeowners love using in their landscape. This Florida-native plant attracts butterflies, and is ideal for hot and dry areas. It suits the coastal areas perfectly, as well. This spreading perennial plant also reseeds and blooms almost throughout the year. It produces two-inch beautiful sunflower-like flowers that can increase the curb appeal of your outdoor space. Moreover, as these plants grow throughout the year, they can brighten up the darker, colder times of the year when winter hits the Sunshine State.
It is tough, colorful and drought-resistant, which makes it one of the best groundcovers for Florida. Its flowers have broad yellow petals that are clumped around a brown center. It will control your soil conditions beautifully and attract wildlife ranging from butterflies to birds. Your landscape will be buzzing with beautiful wildlife and bright flowers!
Ferns – Utilizing ferns as a ground cover for your Central Florida lawn is a great idea – especially the Macho and the Foxtail fern. These ferns will keep your plants happy, the soil healthy and ensure that your landscape looks beautiful.
The Foxtail fern has tufts that are unbelievably soft and breathtakingly beautiful. Moreover, it can survive the harsh weather conditions of Florida. The Macho fern is another good option, as it gives the look of Jurassic Park owing to its sword-like appearance and dense growth.
Mondo Grass – Also known as monkey grass, this is an evergreen perennial that makes a perfect standalone grass-like plant or a groundcover. Its most popular use is as a border grass to add definition between a lawn and landscape beds. Mondo grass has deep green, variegated, or black foliage, and ranges from 2 to 24 inches in height. It’s sometimes planted as a groundcover, creating a shade-tolerant lawn alternative. It performs well in almost any soil and light condition. This slow-growing plant requires minimal care once established, and is ideal for Florida’s weather.
Perennial Peanut – If you love the look of symmetrical flat foliage that is tough at the same time, then perennial peanuts are the ideal ground cover for you! It requires almost no maintenance yet looks beautiful throughout the year. It also blooms delicate yellow flowers, which can uplift the look of your outdoor space. Moreover, with the right care, this beautiful plant can live up to 30 years.
Powderpuff Mimosa – Powderpuff mimosa, also called sunshine mimosa, is a low-growing, native Florida ground cover that is extensively used in residential and commercial settings. It is scientifically known as Mimosa strigillosa, and serves as a host tree for butterfly larvae. This plant blooms pink, bell-shaped flowers throughout the year. It also has a deep root that makes it drought-tolerant and erosion-resistant.
Purple Queen – Rightly named, the purple queen plant is a gorgeous groundcover that will make your landscape look royally purple. Originally from Mexico, this plant is a perennial spiderwort that blooms a pulper-covered, deep mass of foliage. The beautiful shade of purple will add an extra pop to your landscape and make it look well-maintained. The tip of each stem of this gorgeous plant has three-petalled pink flowers that are short-lived but lovely.
If you want the look of an aesthetically pleasing landscape without going overboard with your budget and time, then this plant has got your back. It is drought tolerant and can survive the hot weather of the Sunshine State. Moreover, it can survive the random cold snaps that Florida throws at you. Also, this beautiful plant will regrow quickly in case it gets damaged.
Society Garlic – Society garlic is a groundcover that creates delicate, beautiful star-shaped purple flowers. These plants can grow up to a height of one foot tall and are amazing in mass plantings or borders. It is both drought- and cold-tolerant, which makes it ideal for Florida landscapes. Placing society garlic in a high-traffic area can be attractive, but if you don’t like the constant smell of garlic, you should refrain from it. However, on the brighter side, this perennial plant is resistant to deer damage, as well.
Groundcover Care and Maintenance Tips
Even though most groundcover plants are low-maintenance, some require a little attention. For example, mondo grass should be cut back in early spring and late winter to keep it at its best. Overall, however, making sure you select the right groundcover for its intended location and purpose is essential to its ultimate success in your yard. Clicking on the link of our recommended groundcovers listed above will provide details about their optimum placement for planting and water requirements.
And here is some excellent advice from Master Gardener Glenda Taylor in her article for Bob Vila:
“Perennial beds that feature trees, shrubbery, and bushes are great spots for ground cover, but don’t plant both at the same time. Quick-growing ground cover plants can absorb the nutrients that newly planted bushes and trees need to get a good head start. Wait at least six months after planting the larger items before adding the ground cover to let larger plantings develop healthy root systems.”
Do you know who else provides excellent advice? Our landscaping experts at Daniel’s Lawn Service & Pressure Washing! Our full-service company provides landscape design, tree installation, tree trimming, yard maintenance, pressure washing and so much more. Contact us today so we can do the work, and you can do the enjoying! We proudly serve all of Central Florida – including Orlando, Sanford, Longwood and Lake Mary! We look forward to helping you achieve your goals and bring your vision to life!