Spectacular Blankets: Using Groundcover Plants to Your Advantage

Decorative features in their own right, groundcover plants' dense knit of leaves, stems and flowers provide a moisture-rich tapestry of color, texture and form.

Excerpted from Garden Design
  • Gravel Border Features Ground Cover Plants

    Tough Plants for Tough Sites

    Free-draining soils are \"hungry.\" The organic matter you feed them usually breaks down quickly, to short-lived effect. If you're looking to choose plants better suited to its condition, rather than trying to change the soil, look no further than your feet: many ground cover plants thrive on sunny sites, such as shrubby cinquefoil or sage. Several flowering ground cover plants that thrive on sunny sites are also aromatic, such as lavender or thyme.

    This gravel border features mostly Mediterranean-style groundcover plants, including thyme and catmint.

  • Stachys Byzantina is Perfect Hot Spot Plant

    Sun Protection

    Perfect for a hot spot, the silvery leaves of lamb's ears reflect the heat of the sun and prevent the plant from drying out.

  • Dense Shade Plants Cope with Difficult Conditions

    Dense Shade

    Ground shaded by a leafy tree canopy can be extremely dry throughout the summer, but shade-loving lenten rose, hostas and wood ferns can thrive there. Another option is reducing a tree's crown so more light and moisture reach the ground below, then planting variegated ground elder, sweet woodruff, bunchberry, Japenese spurge or one of the many species of ivy.

    Many colorful hardy geraniums are tough enough to cope with the difficult conditions under a dense tree canopy. Bigroot geraniums, in particular, do well here.

  • Astilbe has Both Beautiful Foliage and Flowers

    Twice the Value

    Plants with long-lasting foliage make good ground cover. Their value doubles if, like these astilbes, they also bloom.

  • Light Canopy Suits Wider Range of Ground Covers

    Under a Light Canopy

    Semi-shaded conditions suit a wide range of leafy groundcover plants, including wild ginger, sedges and Rodger's flower. This mix of green shades has a naturalistic quality.

  • Flowering Vinca Puts Down Roots to Form Dense Mat

    Mat-Forming Ground Cover

    Vigorous spreading plants like English ivy and privet honeysuckle make ideal low-maintenance ground cover in large gardens, where they can get the space they need. Periwinkle puts down roots from spreading shoots to form a dense mat, and its small leaves contrast well with those of pigsqueak. Try to resist planting these prolific reproducers in smaller gardens; they'll make quick work of the space you were planning to use to showcase other beauties.

  • Low Growing Plants Suppress Weeds and Add Color

    Carpet of Color

    In limited space, consider using a mix of leafy plants planted close together, such as false speria, masterwort, or Endres cranesbill. You will achieve the dense effect you want, but it will be more ornamental.

    Low-growing creeping Jenny and common bugle suppress weeds while also providing a colorful contrast to larger plants.

Excerpted from Garden Design

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009

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