Gracious Groundcovers

Pretty alternatives to the usual low-growing junipers.

If you don't find a good way to cover the ground, Mother Nature will, and you may not always like the results. Here's a colorful alternative to the usual groundcover junipers: Verbena 'Homestead Purple' covers a bank, blooming from spring to frost. Verbena is tolerant of both heat and drought.

Euonymus doesn't have to be ho-hum. Here, 'Green 'N Gold' brightens a shady part of the garden.

Lamium 'Pink Chablis' is a moderate grower and is perfect for mixed sun and shade areas.

If you're interested in covering ground, but you also want to give an area some height, consider select shrubs that branch to the ground. Here, Japanese kerria 'Picta' adds to its sunny spring bloom with variegated foliage that holds through the seasons. Sporadic blooms occur at other times of the year, making this an interesting multi-season specimen.

Cotoneaster is a great groundcover for sun or shade. After spring's white flowers fade, red berries give the branches a festive look, often holding into winter. Here, bearberry cotoneaster 'Lowfast'.

Groundcover roses are a hardy and colorful solution for sunny areas. Here, Flower Carpet Gold — like the other roses in the series — blooms from spring to frost. Pink Supreme is a 2008 release.

Vinca — the perennial variety — is a good groundcover for shady areas. Here, it filled in prettily between flagstones on a path. Consider mixing the blue- and white-flowered forms together in the same bed.

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) is an old standby for shady areas of the garden. Excellent color options include pink ('Rubra'), white ('Alba'), variegated leaves of rosy pink ('Rainbow'). If you're using Ajuga next to a lawn, put down edging to keep it out.

Dead nettle (Lamiastrum galeobdolon) is an attractive semi-evergreen groundcover that produces its yellow flowers in spring. But beware: In some parts of the country, this plant is considered invasive. Before you introduce any so-called "fast-growing" groundcover into your yard, check out its behavior with an extension agent or trusted nurseryman.

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