Alternative Ground Covers

Elevate your sights above the usual ground hugging varieties and try plants of all sizes to solve your garden challenges. Group together shrubs, flowers, ornamental grasses, and vines as low maintenance alternatives to a lawn, as cover-ups for unsightly bare spots under trees and shrubs, or to soften hard lines around sidewalks or stepping stones. Here are some ideas to get your started.

Old Fashioned HydrangeasProblem 1: Sodden spots – wet areas where the lawn languishes.
Solution: Make a better match.

  • Use shrubs to cover up bare spots.
  • Choose varieties like hydrangea that love moist, dappled shade.
  • Create mass appeal by grouping several shrubs of the same variety.
  • Cover lots of ground for not much money.
  • Select the best varieties for your growing conditions by checking plant tag information.
  • Space shrubs according to their mature size to give them room to grow.

DianthusProblem 2: High maintenance strip along path.
Solution: Fill it with flower power.

  • Pick plants with spreading, compact forms that crowd out weeds like dianthus.
  • Start with healthy, nursery grown varieties loaded with buds.
  • Perfume the air with flowers with a sweet fragrance.
  • Soften the hard edge of the walk by letting flowers cascade over the sides.
  • Fertilize plants once a month and remove spent blooms.

Hosta Krossa RegalProblem 3: Too many towering trees.
Solution: Go with the flow.

  • Give in to the shady potential and create an lush oasis of green.
  • Fill the area with classic shade loving plants such as ferns and hostas.
  • Discover the many colors, shapes and sizes of these plants.
  • Combine them in large masses for a bold impact.
  • Divide hostas after a few years to keep them healthy.

SedumProblem 4: Wily weeds between stepping stones.
Solution: Muscle out marauders.

  • Choose ground covers such as wooly thyme that spread rapidly and can take foot traffic.
  • Prepare the area by soaking the ground and removing weeds (roots and all) from between the stones.
  • Tuck in the ground covers and keep the area weed free until the ground covers take hold.
  • Soften areas between rocks and pavers with low growing ground covers.
  • Choose the plant best suited for your growing conditions.

Great Ground Covers
Sun to Partial Sun

  • Sedum ‘Angelina’ – Brilliant, needle-shaped, golden yellow foliage creates a beautiful mat of color. Try it between stones in a rock garden.
  • Dianthus ‘Neon Star’ – A sun lover covered in vibrant pink aromatic flowers. Grow it along walkways in well-drained soil.
  • Maiden grass ‘Morning Light’ – Silvery foliage 4 to 5-feet tall with bronze seed heads that dry to cream. Beautiful along fences or the back of flower borders.

Shade to Partial Shade

  • Golden creeping Jenny ‘Goldilocks’ – Give your garden the Midas touch. The plant looks like it has long strands of small golden coins. Ideal along wet borders such as pools.
  • Ivy ‘Golden Ingot’ – A well-mannered, non-invasive ivy with colorful variegated leaves. Try it under trees and shrubs to create a patterned carpet. .
  • Ajuga ‘Mahogany’ – Lush, almost black-burgundy leaves make a low profile, dramatic statement in shady spots. Use it where grass struggles to grow in shady, moist areas.