Homeowners are in love with their lawns! Turfgrass is the most popular groundcover used in the landscape, and performs well in sunny, high traffic areas where you entertain or children play. It looks great, and nothing beats the fresh fragrance of a newly mown lawn. But lawns can be expensive and time-consuming to maintain, and they don’t perform well in shady, wet or dry areas. It’s time to take a look at some other options to cover your ground. Groundcovers are low-growing plants that spread to form a dense carpet, much like a lawn. They provide many benefits to your garden. Groundcovers control the growth of weeds, prevent erosion of the soil, cool the area during the summer, retain moisture for your other plants, are low maintenance and look fabulous! The right groundcover in the right spot can add beauty, texture, color and interest to a bland or challenging area, such as under trees, on a slope, along a pathway or in a shady garden bed. What’s not to like?
Here are a few recommended selections of groundcovers you can plant this fall for added beauty next spring:
BUGLEWEED (Ajuga reptans ‘Bergundy Glow’) – This hardy, deer-resistant, fast-growing and spreading groundcover certainly has the “wow” factor, with its multicolored foliage and blue panicle flowers that bloom in late spring. An added benefit is that it grows in both sun and shade.
CAREX (Carex oshimensis EverColor® Series ‘Everest Summer’) – This versatile, low-maintenance, clumping grass can be used not only as a stunning groundcover but in containers and window boxes placed in shady spots or on a slope. The white variegation adds a pop of color year round.
CREEPING JENNY (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) — An eye-popping, chartreuse perennial, creeping Jenny can fill in spaces around rocks, boggy areas and other challenging spots. It can take both sun and shade. In the sun, creeping Jenny will be more yellow and in the shade, a deeper green. It dies back in a harsh winter and then pops up again in the spring. Creeping Jenny also makes a great “spiller” for containers.
CREEPING JUNIPER (Juniperus horizontalis) – Tough, low maintenance and drought-tolerant, creeping juniper can be a life-saver in the garden in those difficult spots where nothing seems to grow, like a steep slope or in an area with harsh, afternoon sun. Creeping junipers look tidy and perform well in all seasons. ‘Blue Rug’ and ‘Blue Star’ are popular cultivars.
DWARF MONDO GRASS (Ophiopogon japonicas) – This slow-growing, clumping, grass-like plant is great for a formal look along pathways or between stepping stones. It is evergreen and has lavender or white flowers in the spring. It thrives in shady to partially sunny areas.
LILYTURF (Liriope muscari Cleopatra™ or Marc Anthony®) – This tough, easy-care ornamental grass can be planted in part sun and shade and has a pleasing lavender bloom in late summer. It does well under trees, a difficult place for plants to thrive.
ORNAMENTAL OREGANO (Origanum laevigatum ‘Pilgrim’) – Yes, herbs are great groundcovers! This clumping perennial ornamental oregano has gorgeous clusters of deep lavender flowers in the summer that can be cut for bouquets. As a groundcover, this handsome herb works best in sunny, dry locations like a slope or a rock garden.
PACHYSANDRA (Pachysandra terminalis) – A popular selection for under trees, pachysandra can compete with tree roots for the nutrients it needs to grow. Keep it in the shade and this low-growing evergreen perennial will cover an area with a dense carpet. An added benefit is a pretty white flower in spring.
PERIWINKLE (Vinca minor) – This hardy groundcover tolerates sun or shade and is often planted on slopes to prevent erosion. It is a fast-growing and aggressive evergreen, with attractive periwinkle blue flowers in the spring. As a prolific spreader, it will need to be kept in check.
THYME (Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin’) – Known as wild or creeping thyme, this herbaceous perennial does well in dry spots. It does not like moist or wet soil. ‘Elfin’ is the miniature version with fragrant pink flowers in the summer. It attracts pollinators and is a great selection for small areas or as a filler plant between stepping stones.
If you don’t want to be bothered with plants, add organic mulch under trees or in areas of the garden where plants don’t seem to thrive. Mulch has the same benefits as other groundcovers, helping to deter weeds and stop erosion. Mulch gives a professional, finished look to garden beds.
Autumn is the perfect time to experiment with groundcovers! For additional ideas on plants that can cover your ground, go to: gardenerspath.com/how-to/lawns-andgrass/floweringground-covers.