Will ground cover plants stop weeds growing in your garden? Yes, and they will make your borders look pretty too

Gardening pros explain how and what the best ground cover plants are

A house with a front door and greenery in the garden
(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Getting rid of weeds in the garden is no fun job – but a necessary one, unfortunately. But what if you could eliminate the task completely by suppressing the weeds’ growth with something pretty like ground cover plants? The question is – will ground cover plants actually stop weeds from growing in your garden borders? 

According to gardening experts, yes, they will. Which is music to our ears as we love a multipurpose garden hack. Especially when it involves a way how to kill weeds, and quickly beautifying our garden border ideas we’re all for it. And that’s exactly what ground cover plants do.

Ground cover plants are usually low and fast-growing plants that form carpets covering the unsightly bare soil. And that’s how they stop weeds from growing - by not giving them any space or sunlight they need to grow.

A garden with a sun lounger and garden borders

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Will ground cover plants stop weeds?

Utilising ground cover plants to tackle the issue of weeds works similarly to using cardboard to kill weeds. It’s just a more permanent and aesthetically pleasing solution because unlike cardboard, ground cover plants don’t disintegrate over time.

‘Ground covers can act as living mulches, providing many of the same benefits as actual mulch,’ says Petar Ivanov, Fantastic Gardeners' gardening expert. ‘As soon as they become established, they deter the germination of weed seeds and prevent them from re-emerging.’

Fiona Jenkins, gardening expert at MyJobQuote.co.uk, says, ‘You can plant ground cover plants which will prevent weeds from taking root in the first place. One of the ways in which they do this is by covering the soil. This prevents weeds from easily taking root and also blocks out the sunlight that weeds need in order to germinate. The ground cover plants will also compete with any weeds for resources such as water and soil nutrients. This effectively deprives the weeds of what they need to germinate, grow and thrive.’

Fiona Jenkins
Fiona Jenkins

Fiona Jenkins is a UK-based landscaper with over twenty five years of experience in the industry. As a gardening expert for MyJobQuote, one of the UK's top trades-matching sites, Fiona offers her expert advice to MyJobQuote's tradespeople and homeowners, and has also been featured as a gardening expert for a range of reputable publications.

A house with a front door and greenery in the garden

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

However, unlike using white vinegar to kill weeds, ground cover plants can’t get rid of already present, established weeds. They are only a preventative measure.

‘If you already have a weed-covered area you will need to remove them first before planting ground cover plants as they won’t kill off existing weeds,’ Fiona further explains.

So just like planting bedding plants that slugs hate in your flower borders to deter them, you can be strategic with your ground cover planting to stop weeds in their tracks. And these are some of our experts’ favourite ground cover plants to prevent weeds from growing and adorn your garden, along with where to buy them.


What is the best ground cover to stop weeds?

‘The most effective ground cover plants for stopping weeds are dense evergreen specimens which are planted close together. They block out the light and smother any attempt by weeds to establish themselves,’ Fiona says.

These include the likes of cedrus ‘feelin blue’, cotoneaster horizontalis and barrenwort.

A garden with a green lawn, borders and a shed

(Image credit: Future PLC/Fiona Walker-Arnott)

What is the best low-maintenance ground cover?

If you’re looking for ground cover plants requiring minimal growing effort, then Fiona has some suggestions.

‘Pachysandra terminalis, or Japanese spurge, provides a dense evergreen ground cover and thrives in a shady spot, typically underneath shrubbery or trees. It thrives in acidic soil so is a good ground cover companion for rhododendrons and azaleas. Once it is established pachysandra needs little or no maintenance.’

‘Bergenias, also known as elephant’s ears, are easy to grow and provide ground cover as well as colour to borders or anywhere that you want to restrict the growth of weeds. They will grow in shade or sun and will even tolerate poor soil conditions,’ she concludes.

Planting ground covers in the garden is a no-brainer if you ask us.

News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home decor and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.