Rosemary is a magnificent fragrant herb that is native to the Mediterranean. During the Middle Ages, rosemary was used as a love charm. While most of us enjoy the aroma of fresh rosemary, today most people grow it for its culinary uses and ornamental qualities. There are several easy to care for varieties in this family of Lamiaceae, one of which is the creeping or prostrate rosemary plant (Rosmarinus officinalis “Prostratus”).  The plant only grows to a height of about 2 inches to 1 foot tall (5-30 cm.) and will spread 4 to 8 feet (1-2 m.) if left unchecked.



Coyote bush is most likely found in coastal scrub and lowland zones. The scientific name for it is Baccharis pilularis, but the bush is also called chaparral broom. The bush is an important part of chaparral environments, providing food, shelter, and erosion control in scrubby land with few large trees. The amazingly adaptable plant is found in canyons, hillsides, and bluffs.

An interesting note about coyote bushes is their close relation to sunflowers. The plant is scraggly and wiry, with stiff branches and small, grayish serrated leaves along the woody stems. An herbaceous perennial, coyote bush has evolved several adaptive strategies to thrive in poor soils with loose vertical soil. It has a wide root system and waxy leaves, which protect it from moisture loss.


The common periwinkle plant (Vinca minor) also called creeping vinca, is often spotted creeping down steep hillsides and banks, offering a green and growing effect in areas which might otherwise be bare. The periwinkle plant is exceptional as an erosion control specimen.

Periwinkle is most often grown as a ground cover. The periwinkle plant takes its common name from the attractive blooms that dot the foliage in April to May, appearing in the color of periwinkle blue. More than 30 varieties of this plant exist, some with variegated foliage and other bloom colors. When planting periwinkle, choose what best suits your landscape.


If you’re looking for a tough shrub that thrives on neglect, try rockrose plants (Cistus). This fast-growing evergreen shrub stands up to heat, strong winds, salt spray, and drought without complaint, and once established it needs very little care.

Native to the Mediterranean, rockrose plants have soft green foliage that varies in shape depending on the species. Large, fragrant flowers bloom for about a month in late spring and early summer. Each blossom lasts only a day and may be pink, rose, yellow, or white, depending on the species.


Whether you’re looking for a 6 inch (15 cm.) groundcover or a 10 foot (3 m.) hedge plant, cotoneaster has a shrub for you. Though they vary in size, the many species of cotoneaster all have a few things in common. Cotoneasters have a wide spread three times or more their height, glossy leaves, and red or black fall and winter berries. Most species of cotoneaster shrug off adverse conditions like drought, strong winds, salt spray, infertile soil, and variable pH.

Cotoneaster has many uses in the garden, depending on the species. Here are some ground cover varieties:

Cranberry cotoneaster- Cranberry cotoneaster (C. apiculatus) makes a good groundcover for erosion control, especially on slopes. Pink summer blossoms are followed by small, red berries in fall. In addition, the fall foliage turns a bronzy shade of red. The shrubs grow 2 to 3 feet (61-91 cm.) tall with a spread of up to 6 feet (2 m.).

Bearberry– Bearberry (C. dammeri) is another low-growing variety that makes a good groundcover. Small, white flowers bloom in spring, followed by red fruit in late summer. The fall foliage is bronzy purple.