If ever a category of plants deserved the adjective “multipurpose,” it is groundcovers. Particularly when it comes to problem areas in your yard, groundcover plants are likely to provide a solution.
The broad definition of a “low, dense-growing, spreading plant” covers a lot of ground. There are literally too many varieties to describe here, but these are some of the purposes that groundcovers can serve in your landscape:
- Carpet-type groundcovers grow low enough that you can plant them between pavers in walks and patios. Some examples are baby’s tears, thyme, Australian violet, and moss.
- Shade-loving groundcovers are perfect for those areas under trees or next to a building or fence where there isn’t enough sunlight to grow grass or sun-loving plants. Some good ones are vinca (also known as periwinkle or myrtle), pachysandra (Japanese spurge), and English ivy.
- Slope-hugging groundcovers, once established, help control weeds and erosion on hillsides and banks where grass and other plants are difficult to maintain. Examples: ice plant, trailing lantana, crownvetch, and various heathers.
- Drought-tolerant groundcovers can thrive in dry conditions with infrequent, deep watering. Examples: ice plant, trailing African daisy, santolina, and coreopsis.
- Colorful groundcovers not only grow well in problem areas, but also provide garden color, either from their blooms or from variegated foliage. Examples: vinca, moss pink, and ajuga (carpet bugle).
Plant groundcovers now, and you can watch them fill in those problem areas during the growing season. There are three keys to successful plantings of groundcovers:
1. Put the right plant in the right place
Your local garden center or county extension service can help you pick the right varieties to suit your plant hardiness zone as well as the growing conditions in your yard.
2. Amend the soil when planting
3. Provide water and nutrients
Groundcovers will grow to be thick and lush when well-fed. Spreading a continuous-release plant food will give your groundcovers a 3-month feeding of essential nutrients with one application. Water regularly, especially from the time you plant until the groundcovers are well established.