16 Spreading Plants for Paved Areas

Paved areas like driveways, patios, and walkways can often look boring and sterile. However, with the right plant choices, you can soften the hard edges and add visual interest to these spaces. When selecting plants for paved areas, you’ll want to choose low-growing, spreading varieties that can tolerate compacted soil, reflected heat from paved surfaces, and some foot traffic.

Here are 16 excellent spreading plants to consider for planted areas around patios, walkways, and driveways:


Sedums are succulent plants that come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Most sedums grow just a few inches tall and spread readily to form a dense, weed-suppressing ground cover. They are extremely drought tolerant and handle poor, shallow soil quite well. Here are some great sedum varieties for paved areas:

Sedum spurium

This fast-spreading sedum grows just 2-4 inches tall and spreads up to 18 inches wide. It produces pink star-shaped flowers in summer. There are several cultivars to choose from, including ‘Dragon Blood’ with red foliage and ‘John Creech’ with pink flowers.

Sedum reflexum

Also called blue spruce stonecrop, this sedum grows up to 5 inches tall and spreads up to 2 feet wide. It has blue-green needle-like foliage that adds great texture. ‘Blue Spruce’ is an excellent cultivar.

Sedum rupestre

The yellow green foliage of Sedum rupestre forms a mat just 3-6 inches tall. It spreads readily and produces bright yellow flowers in summer. ‘Angelina’ is popular cultivar with chartreuse foliage.

Sedum spatulifolium

Growing just 2-4 inches tall, this sedum forms a mat of tiny silver-green leaves. It produces yellow flowers in summer. ‘Immergrunchen’ is a nice cultivar.

Ice Plant

Ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) is a succulent perennial that forms a carpet of fleshy green leaves just 2-4 inches tall. From late spring into fall it produces an abundance of shiny magenta-purple flowers. This South African native thrives in full sun and needs very little water once established.

Creeping Phlox

Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) is a familiar spring-blooming creeping perennial that grows just 3-6 inches tall. It produces a carpet of needle-like evergreen foliage and blankets itself in colorful flowers in mid to late spring. There are many cultivars available in shades of pink, purple, blue, red and white. A few popular options include ‘Crimson Beauty’, ‘Emerald Blue’, and ‘Red Wings’.


Thyme is an aromatic herb that also makes an excellent spreading groundcover for walkways and patios. Growing just 2-4 inches tall, thyme forms a carpet of fragrant foliage that can take light foot traffic. Pink or white flowers appear in early summer. There are many varieties to choose from including English thyme, wooly thyme, creeping thyme and elfin thyme.

Irish Moss

Irish moss (Sagina subulata) forms a dense, moss-like carpet of tiny emerald green leaves on creeping stems just 1-2 inches tall. It spreads readily to create soft mat between pavers. Tiny white flowers bloom in mid-summer but are not very showy.

Blue Fescue Grass

Blue fescue (Festuca glauca) is an ornamental grass with icy blue foliage that grows in tidy clumps 6-12 inches tall and wide. The color and fine texture make it a beautiful accent plant. It spreads slowly via rhizomes to form an attractive patch. Some popular cultivars include ‘Elijah Blue’ and ‘Boulder Blue’.

Creeping Jenny

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) is a fast growing ground cover that rapidly spreads to form a dense mat 2-4 inches tall. It produces bright yellow cup-shaped flowers from spring to mid-summer. There are a number of cultivars with different foliage colors like ‘Aurea’ with chartreuse leaves.

Mazus Reptans

This fast-spreading perennial forms a mat of dark green foliage just 2-4 inches tall. It blooms in late spring with clusters of 1/2-inch wide tubular blue flowers with yellow centers. It does best in partial shade.


Ajuga reptans, also known as bugleweed, carpet bugle or common bugle, is a fast growing groundcover that grows 4-8 inches tall. The dark green leaves form a thick carpet. It produces blue flower spikes in late spring. There are many cultivars available with different leaf colors like ‘Chocolate Chip’ and ‘Burgundy Glow’.

Creeping Sedum

Sedum sarmentosum, also called stringy stonecrop or creeping sedum, is a low-growing sedum that forms a trailing mat just 3-6 inches tall. The fleshy green leaves root wherever they touch down. Yellow star-shaped flowers bloom in early summer.

Creeping Phlox

Creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera) is another species that forms a mat of needle-like foliage 3-6 inches tall that spreads by runners. It blooms in spring with clusters of lavender-blue flowers. ‘Sherwood Purple’ is an excellent cultivar.

Miniature Rose

Miniature rose varieties like ‘Red Carpet’ and ‘Fairy Meidiland’ grow just 1-2 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide. They spread by underground stems to form attractive, low-growing bushes that produce an abundance of small rose flowers from late spring to frost.

Creeping Thyme

Creeping thyme (Thymus praecox) is a low-growing thyme that forms a dense carpet 2-4 inches tall that spreads readily between pavers. Flowers are pink to purple. ‘Pink Chintz’ and ‘Coccineus’ are popular varieties.

Golden Creeping Jenny

Lysimachia aurea is a golden leafed variety of creeping Jenny that grows just 2-4 inches tall. It spreads rapidly to form a bright chartreuse carpet of foliage with yellow cup-shaped flowers in summer. It does best in partial shade.

Wooly Thyme

Thymus pseudolanuginosus, also called wooly thyme, forms a soft mat of grey-green wooly foliage 2-4 inches tall that spreads between pavers. It produces light pink flowers in early summer and can handle light foot traffic.


Creating planted spaces around patios, walkways and driveways helps soften their appearance and adds natural beauty. Choose low-growing, spreading varieties that can handle tough growing conditions and limited care. Sedums, creeping phlox, thymes, Irish moss, fescue grasses and more are excellent options. Combine several types with different foliage colors and textures for the best effect. With the right plant choices, you can turn your paved areas into an attractive living space.

FAQs About Spreading Plants for Paved Areas

What are some good spreading plants for sunny paved areas?

Some excellent spreading plants for sunny paved areas include sedums, ice plant, creeping phlox, thyme, Irish moss, blue fescue grass, creeping Jenny, mazus reptans, and bugleweed. All do well in full sun and spread readily.

What spreading plants can handle foot traffic?

Thyme, Irish moss, bugleweed, creeping sedum, wooly thyme and some sedum species can tolerate moderate foot traffic once established. Avoid heavily traveled routes.

What is a good spreading ground cover for shade?

Sweet woodruff, lamium, English ivy, and lilyturf are good spreading ground covers for shady paved areas. Hostas and ferns will also spread and make nice accents.

How far apart should I space spreading plants?

Space spreading plants about 12-18 inches apart. They will rapidly grow together. For faster fill in, you can space them closer, like 6-12 inches apart.

Is creeping thyme or Irish moss better between pavers?

Both creeping thyme and Irish moss work very well between pavers. Thyme gives you the added benefit of the herbal fragrance when stepped on and pretty flowers in spring. Irish moss creates a smooth green carpet.

What can I plant between paving stones?

Some great options for planting between pavers include thyme, Irish moss, sedums, ajuga, wooly thyme, creeping phlox and blue fescue grass. Avoid larger plants that could disrupt the pavers.

What plants will grow under pine trees?

Some plants that can tolerate the conditions under pine trees include liriope, vinca minor, English ivy, junipers, ferns, euonymus, and creeping phlox. Make sure to use shallow rooted varieties.

Can you plant sedum between pavers?

Yes, sedums are excellent choices for planting between pavers. Their shallow roots don’t disturb the pavers as they spread, and they can tolerate the tough growing conditions.

What plants grow well in gravel?

Sedums, sempervivums, ice plant, thyme, creeping phlox, and creeping Jenny are some plants that can tolerate growing in gravel quite well.

Should I put gravel or plants between pavers?

Plants help soften the look of pavers and prevent weeds. Small gravel can also work but tends to scatter. For best results, plant between pavers and fill remaining gaps with gravel.

What is the easiest spreading ground cover?

Some of the easiest, low maintenance spreading groundcovers include lilyturf, vinca minor, ivy, ajuga, creeping Jenny, and sedums. They require very little care once established.

What plants keep weeds out?

Thick groundcovers that spread like ivy, sedums, thyme, and creeping phlox help keep weeds out once established. Mulching heavily around plants also prevents weed growth.


Choosing the right spreading plants allows you to turn paved areas into beautiful yet practical living spaces. Look for varieties that suit your light conditions, space constraints, and foot traffic levels. With the right plants in place, you can enjoy lush greenery and color in your patios, walkways, and driveways for years to come.