Ground cover, sometimes written groundcover, for ground-covering plant, is the horticultural and gardening term for a wide variety of low-growing flowering plants. The term ground cover can also be a synonym for undergrowth, naturally-occurring low-growing plants such as moss, shrubs and ferns.
Horticultural ground covers have several uses:
- as decoration
- to soften the harsh lines of paving
- to prevent soil erosion, especially on banks and slopes
- to suppress weeds
- as an alternative to a grassed lawn
- to act as living mulch, help prevent water evaporation around specimen plants
Some ground covers are not really used as such but grown for other reasons. Many herbs fall into this category; they are typically small and low-growing, but their principal uses are culinary and medicinal.