Nearly every lawn or garden has one — a bare, ugly spot where nothing seems to grow well.

Nearly every lawn or garden has one — a bare, ugly spot where nothing seems to grow well. Maybe the spot gets too much sun, or too much shade. Perhaps the soil is too sandy, rocky or full of clay for most plants to survive in it. Maybe it's on a hill or slope where exposure to wind and water runoff make it uninhabitable for average plant life.

Ground covers can spruce up challenging spots under trees, accent transitional areas along paths and foundations, and intensify interest in open spaces. Plus, they deliver a seasonal show of flowers, textures and foliage colors.

Before you decide on these landscaping miracle-makers, here are some ground cover guidelines:

Evaluate what you need. Don't just plant the first ground cover that catches your eye. First, take stock of your problem area so you can select a ground cover that is appropriate for the spot. Some ground covers need sun, while others thrive only in shade. Some prefer dry locations, others require moist soil.

Assess the soil at the site. Is it sandy and dry? A lovely loam? Or wet, soggy clay? There's a ground cover for every soil condition, but you'll also need to test the acidity level of the soil. You may need to amend your soil to raise or lower its pH content, or add organic matter to modify its texture.

Maintain their care. Hardy as they are, ground covers still require proper fertilizing, watering and weed control to maintain their attractiveness — just like any other plant. Newly planted areas will need special attention until they're established.

Seeds can be sensible. Seed can be the least expensive way to start ground cover. Ground cover seeds are typically much smaller and lighter than other plant seeds; often you'll get as many as 175,000 seeds in just 1 ounce. One way to make sowing even easier is to use a pre-mix of seeds and lime, like those offered by Outsidepride.com. The mix comes in a shaker bottle and you simply sprinkle the seeds on the planting site. The lime in the mix improves the pH of acidic soils, adds valuable micronutrients and helps break down organic matter. The lime is also white, so it's easy to tell where you've spread the seed.

Outsidepride.com offers more than 50 different types of ground cover seed, from the luminous lavender and red of Magic Carpet creeping thyme and the baby blue of forget-me-not to the gorgeous greens of Irish moss and Kenilworth ivy.