We're all familiar with vinca and ivy but there are so many great options for color and texture beyond the traditional groundcovers. Let’s explore!
The Benefits of Groundcovers
Think of a groundcover as a living carpet. They provide protection from erosion, help retain moisture and improve the aesthetic appearance by covering bare earth. Sweeping banks of groundcovers not only solve problems, they unify your landscape.
Try planting a groundcover this season with your fall bulbs. The bulbs will come up and bloom in the spring and then as their leaves die back the groundcover will grow over it. These plants create a living mulch that will spread to cover the area. Once the plants are established, just think how much less traditional mulch you will need!
Growing Place Choice Groundcovers
Just Some Highlights
Sweet Woodruff (Latin name: Galium ordoratum) has become one of the most popular groundcovers for shady areas. Plants form a spreading clump of small green leaves, whorled like spokes of a bicycle around the stem. Clusters of tiny white flowers make a pretty display in spring. In average and moist soil it spreads steadily to form a thick carpet. Great with spring bulbs of all kinds.
Spotted Dead Nettle (Latin name: Lamium maculatum) is well suited to a variety of growing conditions. It's drought tolerant and also deer and rabbit resistant. Foliage can vary from the silver-marbled, green-edged leaves of ‘Shell Pink’ to the bright golden leaves with a silver center of 'Aureum’. Lamium provides a bright silvery touch to a shade location. "'Pink Pewter’ is looking particularly nice at the moment. The extra amount of silver on the foliage, when compared to ‘Shell Pink’, really shines in the shade,” says Kyle Lambert, Perennials Manager.
And finally, Red Creeping Thyme is such a fragrant, tough and versatile groundcover. It quickly forms a thick green mat and has an abundance of magenta flowers in summer. Plant Red Creeping Thyme in between stepping stones or along a path where its fragrance can be released when walked upon. Thyme likes well-drained soil and is drought tolerant. It is perfect for a living mulch under roses.
Perfect Planting Time for Groundcovers
Now is the perfect time for planting groundcovers, not to mention all sorts of perennials, trees and shrubs! Best of all, Sweet Woodruff, Lamium and all Thymes are 50% off! Planting groundcovers later may require mulching to prevent frost heaving of the plants. Spacing of plants depends on the plant’s habit, rate of growth, and how fast the area needs to be covered. In general, space faster growing groundcovers further apart than slow growing types. The University of Illinois Extension offers a groundcover planting table on its website. By the second growing season the area planted should become a completely established “Living Carpet”!
Posted on 9/3/2015 at 12:03:00 PM