Complete Guide to Ground Cover Plants

Complete Guide to Ground Cover Plants

How To Choose Ground Cover Plants

A ground cover plant is a low-lying plant that covers a large area with thick growth. They are often evergreens and will survive winters, giving them an advantage over shorter-lived plants in the early spring. They tend to have thicker growth than other plants, providing a dense carpet effect across the earth.

Ground Cover Cost

There are many reasons why a gardener would use ground cover plants; one is cost. It is far cheaper to buy one plant that covers a large swathe of a flower bed than numerous smaller ones that cover only the space required for a stalk and some leaves. There is also the fact that because they cover a more significant proportion of the garden, they make it easier to tend.

They occupy the ground, preventing weeds and other unwanted plants from germinating. In addition, the plants chosen as ground cover tend to stay short and close to the earth. This means they grow more quickly, taking up space more rapidly than other plants. They also tend to be low-maintenance, requiring little in the way of pruning, staking, or fertilizing.

Ground Cover Maintenance and Care

If you are planting them in a bed or another area with lots of other plants, you need to make sure that they are well watered since they will have to compete with these more established plants.

If they are planted beneath or around trees, you will need to water frequently since the more extensive root systems of the trees will take much of the available water. Until they are established, you will have to keep an eye out for weeds since they can become swamped without the advantage of greater ground cover.

How To Get Started

Many plants can be used for ground cover in your garden. Most garden centers will have significant parts of their inventory dedicated to such plants. If you struggle to get started, this can be a good way to narrow down your choices or widen them, depending on how well your garden center is stocked. If you are unsure about what to buy, ask plenty of questions, especially about what does well in your local climate. However, some garden employees may be part-time or not very experienced. So, by relying on them, you may not always be getting the most accurate information. And if you decide to ask your neighbors, note that plants that do well in your neighbors’ gardens may not do well in yours.

To ensure you get the right ground cover for your property, it may be best for you to consult a professional landscape company. Also, by having them do the planting and maintenance, you can rest assured that your ground cover will maintain its beauty all year long.

So let us move on and start by showing you a few ground cover plants, followed by a list of those that are low maintenance, best to prevent weeds and the fastest growing.

Evergreen Ground Cover Plants

Silver Queen, Euonymus Fortunel

Ground Cover, Silver Queen, Euonymus Fortunel

One excellent plant for creating a maximum ground cover is the Silver Queen, or Euonymus fortunei. It is an evergreen shrub that produces small, oval-shaped leaves. The center of the leaves is a dark green, while the outer edge is white. The Silver Queen can grow outwards to 90 cm or more from the central node. This makes it a good choice for filling in gaps in a flower bed. These are hardy plants that can survive low temperatures and can flourish in both exposed and sheltered areas of the garden.

Japanese Spurge, Pachysandra Terminalis

Ground Cover, Japanese Spurge, Pachysandra Terminalis

Japanese spurge, or Pachysandra terminalis, is another excellent plant for the gardener who wants plenty of ground cover. These plants grow along the ground, creating a mat of glossy, dark green leaves. The flowers appear in clusters surrounded by a handful of leathery leaves on the ends of short upright branches. These flowers are usually white with small pink points and long stamens. These plants rarely grow over a foot in height, require no pruning, and have little maintenance in general. This plan is also evergreen, ensuring that you will have ground cover even in the colder months.

Semi Perennial Ground Cover

Persicaria affinis ‘Darjeeling Red’

ground cover, Persicaria affinis 'Darjeeling Red'

A smaller plant that also provides good ground cover is the Darjeeling Red or Persicaria affinis. They produce long, lance-shaped leaves, and stalks that become covered in small bell-shaped flowers. These flowers will start light pink, before transforming slowly throughout the season to a darker red. This plant comes in a large number of varieties, giving you the option to choose between annuals or perennials. This plant grows to just under a foot tall and requires little maintenance.

Low Maintenance Ground Cover That Are Also The Best Ground Cover Plants That Prevent Weeds

Here we list the top eight ground cover plants that cover both bases; low maintenance and prevent weeds.

  • Lily of the Valley has green leaves with white dangling bells.
  • Creeping Thyme is a tenacious perennial with tiny white and purple flowers.
  • Creeping Jupiter is green and is a super tough evergreen tolerating various soil conditions.
  • Ajuga is beautiful with glossy leaves that are a deep shade of green, bronze and brown.
  • Dead Nettle has green leaves with splashes of purple, pink and white flowers.
  • Sedum leaves are quite different than most others. Their colorful foliage ranges from bronze to chartreuse.
  • Aronia has green leaves with tiny white flowers.
  • Lavender is a sweetly scented purple and blue flower perennial.

Fastest Growing Ground Cover Plants

Below we list a few of the fastest-growing ground cover plants that also fall into the categories of low maintenance with the best prevention of weeds listed above.

  • Creeping Thyme
  • Creeping Juniper
  • Sedum

Which Ground Cover Should You Use?

One last tip. Remember that your garden is a unique area in itself and that you cannot force it to be something that it is not. Choose plants that will flourish in the environment your garden provides, rather than trying to change your garden in order to make one plant flourish. For example, if your garden is shady but dry, choose plants that are accustomed to such an environment rather than trying to match what a single plant needs. And don’t forget to anticipate the change in weather that comes with the change in seasons. A cold winter that your plants are unprepared for can have a devastating effect on your garden.

Need Additional Help?

If you are interested in adding a ground cover to your property, the professional landscapers at Fernandez and Sons are here to help. Our entire team is experienced and has the knowledge to direct you in the right way. We provide landscape design, installation and maintenance so you can rest assured your property will maintain its beauty and that your ground cover maintains its health as well.

Contact Fernandes and Sons to schedule a consultation.