Groundcovers: The Great Problem Solver
Got a landscape dilemma? Consider groundcovers.
Groundcovers established on a steep slope will eliminate dangerous mowing. Planted under a tree or shrub, groundcovers will compete with weeds and moderate root zone temperature. They can add visual interest and provide transitions between hardscape and flower beds or lawns. As with any garden design, choose the right plant for the right place.
Active spreaders: Spacing groundcover plants closely for quicker cover can be costly. These species spread faster than most so can be planted less densely.
- Creeping Juniper-- Juniperus horizontalis (Sun)
- Sweet Woodruff-- Galium odoratum or spreading Hosta cultivars ‘Piedmont Gold’ or ‘Mountain Fog’
Well-behaved: These sun loving plants will provide a neat edging or act as filler between larger perennials.
- 'Nana' Silver Mound-- Artemisia schimidtiana
- Bloody Cranesbill-- Geranium sanguineum
- Candy Tuft-- Iberis sempervirens
Ground Huggers: These plants will tolerate light foot traffic. Place them along pathways or between stepping stones.
- Thyme-- Thymus polytrichus (Sun)
- Bugleweed-- Ajuga reptans (Shade)
Small Scale Spreaders: Although these plants will not tolerate foot traffic, use them to create a visual carpet of color in full sun to light shade. Try Moss Phlox--Phlox subulata.
Sunny Slopes: Admire slopes from afar rather than up close with a mower using a low maintenance species such as Snow-in-Summer-- Cerastium tomentosum.
Shady Slopes: For slopes with less than full sun, try Japanese spurge-- Pachysandra terminalais.
Shrubby Groundcovers: If you want a tough, permanent cover choose a woody shrub.
- Creeping Contoneaster-- Cotoneaster adpressus or Groundcover Roses--Rosa species (Sun)
- 'Crispa' Cutleaf-- Stephanandra incise (Acidic shade)
Shade Lovers: These will require moist soil when first planted but can tolerate some dryness when fully established.
- Barrenwort-- Epimedium
- Lungowrt-- Pulmonaria
Flowering Shade Groundcovers: Use this and other flowering shade plants to create color in a dark spot. Try 'Pumila' Dwarf--Astilbe chinensis.
Wet Soils: For spots often too wet to mow, choose the moisture tolerant 'Chameleon' plant-- Houttuynia cordata.
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ISU Extension Publication PM 1332 “Groundcovers” contains full color pictures of all the plants mentioned above. Call or stop by the ISU Extension and Outreach office in Dallas County to purchase a copy.