In the past
groundcovers have been thought of as plants to cover soil areas where
either poor soil conditions, heavy shade or steep slopes made it hard to
maintain or grow grass. Now groundcovers are recognized for their own
striking beauty to accent tree and shrub plantings. For example, a
pool of showy blue Vinca or Viola blooms, surrounding two or three
glistening clumps of white birch can achieve a dramatic effect in the
midst of a deep green lawn.
of the ease of care and low maintenance requirements of many groundcovers,
they can be used as a living mulch to replace grass on low traffic lawn
Almost any low
growing plant can be used as a groundcover. It is important to pick plants
that meet your needs and that will thrive in the location you have
selected. Take time to consider the amount of light, soil conditions and
traffic before choosing.
As with any
other type of plantings, the proper soil preparation is essential for
success. Poor soils can be improved with peat moss, compost and
fertilization. Once the soil is prepared, a mulch of bark cover is ideal
to prevent rain washout and weed development while the plants are getting
There are many
plans that will survive under the heavy shade of trees or in dark places
between buildings. Some of the best include Vinca, often known as
Periwinkle, noted for its dark green evergreen leaves and showy periwinkle
blue flowers and Pachysandra, which will make an evergreen, mat about
8" to 10" tall. English Ivy often thought of , as an evergreen
vine will also make an excellent groundcover on shady banks.
excellent groundcover vine is the fast-growing Hall's Honeysuckle that is
covered each summer with delightfully fragrant blooms that will attract
hummingbirds, great for medium shade to full sun. Other attractive vines
include Virginia creeper, and Winter creeper Euonymous with their bright
such as the fragrant Lily of the Valley, Ajuga and Viola are also
excellent for quickly covering shady areas. (Use caution, as all Violas
somewhat taller growing
10" to3' tall, Hosta will make a spectacular show in the shade with
their striking foliage ranging from blue to green and numerous variations
of variegated whites and gold. For sunny spots perennials such as
Daylilies, Daisies, hardy Sweet pea (maybe invasive) or even meadow flowers
will add a splash of colour and thrive in poorer soils.
FOR STEEP SLOPES
slopes, a good groundcover is often preferable to maintaining grass. For
this purpose, one of my favourites is the spreading Cotoneaster. They are
relatively fast growing, have
striking summer foliage and small white flowers and are followed by fall
coloured leaves and bright red berries that persist into the winter.
In fact a
whole range of low growing shrubs would be ideal for slopes or planting in
beds under trees. These include he many colourful Spireas the range from
lemon gold to purple red, Dwarf Deutiza with showy white blooms and gold
flowered Potentillas. Also evergreens such as low spreading junipers and
Euonymus both green and variegated varieties and Dwarf Spreading Yews will
thrive in a wide range of conditions.
These are only
a few of the many plants that can be used. Don't restrict yourself to the
groundcover section of your local garden center, use your imagination and
create a living mulch that will provide a striking accent in your garden.
FOR DRY SHADE
| GROUNDCOVERS FOR SUN
FOR DAPPLED SHADE
This is only a
small sampling of the plants you can use. Just use your imagination!