Whether you're a well-seasoned landscaper or just starting gardening, one type of plant you should be familiar with is groundcover. Perpetually low-lying and with a habit of spreading quickly, ground cover can benefit your gardening or landscaping project.
6 Benefits of Groundcover
- It protects against weeds.
Use ground cover to prevent weeds from growing in your landscape design. While it's essential to implement steady weed control (by hand) as your groundcover first becomes established, once it's fully grown, it should act as a living, breathing weed barrier of its own, making it both practical and pleasing to the eye.
- Flowering options are available.
While some groundcovers are simply green, other options will provide more color for your landscape. Here are some lovely flowering groundcovers to consider:
- Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum)
- Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)
- Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
- Hosta (Hosta sieboldiana)
- Creeping Thyme (Thymus superphylum)
- Canadian anemone (Anemone canadensis)
- You can (usually) see it year-round.
Many groundcovers are evergreen, which means they stay green throughout the year and even in the dead of winter. It is excellent for areas that may end up needing snow at points in the winter. For example, when most other plants die away or turn brown in December and January, your groundcovers should still retain a nice pop of green.
- It's perfect for slopes and hills.
If your landscaping area features slopes or hills, ground cover is the perfect plant to feature in these areas. Not only does it look beautiful cascading over a slope, but it's also good at stabilizing the soil in these areas so that you don't get a lot of erosion. Likewise, you can allow groundcover to thrive on hillsides where weeding and maintaining other plants would be impossible or, at the very least, dangerous and difficult.
- In shady areas, it can replace grass, which would otherwise be challenging to grow.
Many homeowners and landscapers struggle to keep healthy, bright green grass thriving beneath large trees or in other areas that tend to be shady for most of the day. In these areas, the ground cover provides the perfect alternative.
- It's easy to grow and even easier to maintain.
Finally, if you or your client are looking for a hands-off garden, incorporating ground cover is necessary. Not only is it beautiful and helpful in preventing soil erosion, but it's also easy to maintain. Even if you don't have time to weed (once the ground cover has already been established), you can leave it alone, and it should thrive. Moreover, because of its easy growth, you'll reduce maintenance costs with more ground cover you have.
3 Low-Maintenance Groundcovers to Consider
One key to success with groundcovers is choosing the right plant for your project. Here are three low-maintenance groundcover plants to consider:
- Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
- Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens)
- Carpet bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
Groundcover Prepping and Care Tips
Groundcover is best when established in late spring or early fall, as cooler temperatures facilitate good growth. However, it will likely do fine if you need to plant it in the summer's heat. Properly prepping your soil before planting is crucial when planting any ground cover.
Start by removing perennial weeds and fertilizing (try 10-10-10 fertilizer along with a few inches of manure or compost). Rake the soil lightly to incorporate your fertilizer, then plant.
When planting, follow the instructions for spacing that come with ground cover. It will give you better coverage right off the bat. You'll need to mulch around your plants to prevent the growth of weeds and keep them well-watered according to the label instructions.
It can be challenging to establish full coverage with the ground cover right away. It takes approximately two to three growing seasons to see full coverage.