Planting ground cover can be the solution in a landscape where nothing else grows. Choose a low-growing plant in a shaded area or as an edging around a garden bed. Use it to fill in around a tree where its roots have spread and left little topsoil for plants to thrive. A tall ground cover is a good choice as backdrop in a large garden bed. Be advised, though, that when a ground cover multiplies and takes over, you may have to tame its growth throughout the season.
A landscape contractor will charge $292 to plant Pachysandra, a hardy ground cover, in a 100-square-foot garden bed. This includes the labor and material. You can buy the material for $215 and plant them and save a nice 26 percent. You'll need a shovel and rake to work the soil, make sure to remove any stones and clumps of soil, and a hand trowel to dig the holes for the plants. Most plant labels suggest the distance between plants so they’ll grow and thrive. Cover the plants with light mulch to ward off weeds and retain moisture in the soil. The mulch also creates a nice, uniform cover while the plants have a chance to grow and spread.
The bottom line: compare the price of a contractor’s bid to plant ground cover with what it costs to do it yourself and make your decision. You adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.