Top 7 Michigan Native Plants For Ground Cover

Top 7 Michigan Native Plants For Ground Cover

In recent years, there has been a big movement to replace invasive or ornamental plant species with native plants. One easy way to introduce native plants into your yard is to use them as ground cover in landscaped areas. This article will review some of the top native plant options for ground cover in Michigan, and how to plant them.

What Is Ground Cover?

Ground cover refers to any low-growing plant or group of plants that is used to cover the ground, rather than growing vertically as a shrub or tree. Ground covers are often used in landscaping to provide a uniform, low-maintenance cover for bare soil or to control erosion on slopes. 

Ground covers can include a wide variety of plants, such as low-growing grasses, flowering plants, and even certain types of mosses or ferns. They are typically hardy and easy to care for, making them a popular choice for both residential and commercial landscaping.

(Featured Image: Summer Flowers by R. Larue)

What Are The Benefits Of Planting Native Ground Cover?

Ground cover can provide several benefits for your landscaping, including:

  • Provide a visual interest in garden beds or to provide a backdrop for other plants. Ground cover provides a blanket of color that draws the eye and can help make other plants visually catching from color contrast.
  • Eliminate the need for weed fabric, mulch, or stones between larger plants such as native shrubs and trees. Native ground cover plants can grow thickly between other plants, out competing weeds and replacing the need for other mediums.
  • Provide essential food and habitat for insects and birds. Different types of ground cover can provide different elements for our local native insects and birds. Flowering ground covers attract pollinators, while ground covers that produce fall berries are a bit hit with our feathered friends.
  • Erosion control on sloped areas. Many types of native ground covers grow a lot of tightly clustered roots throughout the blanketed area. This type of root growth can be a great way to prevent erosion, especially on sloped or hilly areas.

Best Michigan Native Plants For Ground Cover

1.Wild Strawberry | Fragaria virginiana

Wild strawberries prefer well-drained soil in partial shade to full sun. They can tolerate a wide range of soil types and can thrive in both dry and moist conditions.

White flowers on wild strawberries that are planted as groundcover for erosion control in Michigan.

Wild Strawberry by D. Jarvis

2. Creeping Phlox | Phlox subulata

Creeping phlox prefers well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. They prefer slightly acidic soil and are well-suited to rock gardens and sloped areas.

Creeping phlox is a native ground cover that is drought tolerant and can help prevent soil erosion.

Blue Phlox by Danielle Blue

3. Wild Geranium | Geranium maculatum

Wild geraniums prefer moist, well-drained soil in partial to full shade. They are often found in woodland settings and can tolerate a wide range of soil types.

Small purple flowers top wild geranium, a commonly used ground cover in Michigan.

Wild Geranium by Cranbrook Science

4. Foamflower | Tiarella cordifolia

Foamflowers prefer moist, well-drained soil in partial to full shade. They prefer slightly acidic soil and are well-suited to woodland gardens and moist areas.

Foamflower being used as a thick and pretty ground cover in Michigan.

Foamflower by F.D. Richards

5. Canada Anemone | Anemone canadensis

Canada anemones prefer moist, well-drained soil in partial shade to full sun. They are often found in wetland areas and can tolerate a wide range of soil types.

Canada Anemone by J. Mayer

6. Pennsylvania Sedge | Carex pensylvanica

Pennsylvania sedge prefers well-drained soil in partial to full shade. They can tolerate a wide range of soil types and are well-suited to dry, sandy areas.

Pennsylvania sedge is a good grass ground cover. This plant is native in Michigan.

Pennsylvania Sedge by Erutuon

7. Bearberry | Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Bearberry is a low-growing evergreen shrub that is often used as a ground cover in Michigan. It prefers well-drained, sandy soil in full sun to partial shade. Bearberry is well-adapted to dry, rocky soils and can tolerate acidic soil. It is also deer resistant and well-adapted to heavily populated areas of deer.

Blooms on bear berry plant that is a native Michigan ground cover plant.

Bearberry Bloom

Why Are Native Plants So Important?

Native plants are important for several reasons, including:

  1. Biodiversity: Native plants are an essential part of natural ecosystems and provide habitat, food, and shelter for a wide range of wildlife, including birds, insects, and other animals. By planting native plants in gardens and landscapes, we can help to support local biodiversity and create healthy, functioning ecosystems.
  2. Adaptation to local conditions: Native plants have evolved over time to thrive in the specific climate, soil, and other environmental conditions of their local area. They are adapted to local conditions and are often better suited to the local climate than non-native plants, which can help to reduce the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and other inputs.
  3. Conservation: Many native plant species are threatened or endangered due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and other factors. By planting native plants, we can help to conserve these species and protect them from further decline.
  4. Resilience and ecosystem services: Native plants can provide a wide range of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, soil health, erosion control, and water quality improvement. They can also help to mitigate the effects of climate change by providing shade, reducing urban heat island effects, and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Overall, planting native plants is an important way to support healthy, functioning ecosystems and to protect and conserve the natural world around us.

Learn More About Michigan Native Plants

Michigan has an abundance of native plant species that are equal parts beautiful and functional within our local ecosystems. Check out some of our other guides on growing native plants in Michigan:

Shop Locally For Michigan Native Plants

Bright Lane Gardens proudly supports the native plant movement by offering locally native plants that thrive in our region. Our plants are sourced from Michigan growers and are selected based on their appearance, longevity, and habitat/food contributions for our local wildlife. 

In addition to native plants, we also sell everything you need to start your own vegetable garden, fruit bushes and trees, larger trees and shrubs, and all of the soils, amendments and accessories you need for your garden project.

An up close photo of the blue flower of the native spiderwort plant.

Common Spiderwort by Joshua Mayer