Tag: ground covers

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.


Ground Cover Solutions

Everyone’s looking for low maintenance ideas for the garden and one of the best solutions that I’ve come across is to use ground covers.

They are ideal for a variety of situations such as an alternative to lawns, dry areas without easy access to water, and slopes.

Most ground covers are easy to care for. You don’t have to mow or fertilize as frequently as a lawn and many of them are quite drought resistant.

You would be amazed at the range of plants that are suitable to use as a ground cover. Sometimes it is just a matter of imagining how a plant would look growing en masse or selecting those that are known to spread rapidly. Whatever your growing conditions and design requirements there is a plant suitable for you.

Tread Tolerant

Living is a key word in the phrase “outdoor living space.” It’s an area that’s meant to be enjoyed and used, which means high foot traffic in certain places. High foot traffic leads to bare spots. When a path isn’t appropriate, ground cover plants are the solution.

Blue Star Creeper (Isotoma fluviatus) – With a potential spread of 18 inches, this evergreen ground cover will fill in a space quickly. Tiny leaves and pale blue flowers give the plant a delicate look. Blue Star Creeper holds up well to foo traffic.

Hardy in zones 5 – 10; 2 – 4-inches tall x 12 – 18-inch spread; full sun.

‘Platts Black’ Brass Buttons (Leptinella squalida) – This is a very low growing plant that forms a carpet of tiny fern-like foliage. It’s a natural for planting between stepping stones. ‘Platts Black’ foliage is a blend of dark bronze, green and eggplant purple.

Hardy in zones 5 – 9; 1 – 3-inches tall x 8 – 12-inch spread; full sun to partial shade.

‘Pink Chintz’ Thyme (Thymus serpyllum) – Choose thyme as a drought tolerant replacement for lawns in small spaces. ‘Pink Chintz’ produces pink flowers in spring and will tolerate moderate foot traffic.

Hardy in zones 4 – 8; 3 inches tall x 12 inch spread; full sun.

Water Wise

Whether you are water conscious because of need or desire, drought tolerant plants play an important role when designing a water wise garden. These are plants that thrive in low moisture environments. You’d be surprised at the diverse selection of plants available – even ground covers. Drought tolerant ground covers are excellent for filling in a space where moisture is at a premium.

‘Angelina’ Sedum (Sedum rupestre) – The trailing habit of this succulent ground cover is particularly attractive in containers or tucked into cracks and crevices. It’s also The chartreuse color is eye catching.

Hardy in zones 3 – 10; 3 – 6-inches tall x 12 – 14-inch spread; full sun.

‘Moss Rose’ Hens & Chicks (Sempervivum x ‘Moss Rose’) – ‘Moss Rose’ produces rosettes of succulent, blue-gray leaves tinged with red. It’s a lovely addition to dry areas with poor soil.

Hardy in zones 3 – 8; 4 – 6-inches tall x 4 – 6-inch spread; full sun.

‘Goldie’ Yarrow (Achillea tomentosa) – If you love the look of a cottage garden, this ground cover version of the classic yarrow is for you. Soft green, downy foliage forms a dense mat year round and bright yellow flowers repeatedly from early summer to fall.

Hardy in zones 4 – 8; 6 – 8-inches tall x 12 – 18-inch spread; full sun.

Soil Saving

Do you have a place in your garden where water runoff or strong wind makes it impossible to grow anything? You’ve got an erosion issue and ground covers can help. Try a vining ground cover that will knit together and carpet the area. This will help hold the soil in place.

‘Yellow Ripple’ Ivy (Hedra helix) – Ivy is a classic evergreen ground cover. This variety’s foliage is gray-green with pale yellow edges. In winter the leaves take on a purple-red cast. ‘Yellow Ripple’ is a slow grower that will form a low growing, dense mat.

Hardy in zones 5 – 9; 6 – 10-inches tall x 12 – 24-inch spread; full sun to partial shade.

Golden Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) – Golden moneywort cascades across the ground forming a mat of yellow leaves with deep gold blooms in summer. This is the more behaved cousin of green moneywort.

Hardy in zones 3 – 9; 1 – 3-inces tall x 18 – 24-inch spread; full sun to partial shade.

Wintercreeper Euonymus (Euonymus fortune ‘Coloratus’) – This evergreen ground cover spreads rapidly and thrives with very little care. It’s one of my favorites for multiple situations. The evergreen foliage turns purple in winter.

Hardy in zones 4 – 8; 6 – 12-inches tall x 4 foot spread; full sun to partial shade.

*Photos courtesy of The Berry Family of Nurseries.