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How Ground Cover Can Level Up Even A Great Landscape

By February 19, 2024Landscape Design

When was the last time you looked at the landscape around your home and thought to yourself, “Wow, I really wish I had some ground cover?”

Probably never!

When you think of improving your landscape you may imagine a flower garden or a seating area, a bubbling waterfall or your dream patio. But sometimes the most humble elements are the ones that bring all the others together.

Today we’re talking about ground cover – an overlooked, under appreciated, but vital piece of a great outdoor space.

Here’s why it’s important and how it can turn even a great space into an exceptional one.

spring naturalistic landscapeBeautify Slopes

If you’ve got any kind of a slope at all, and especially if it’s a bit rocky or sandy or just plain unmanageable, then ground cover is your new best friend. It can be difficult to get anything to grow on a slope, impossible to mow, and can suffer from erosion, turning your yard into a muddy, silty mess.

Most ground cover plants don’t need to be trimmed, so you can plant-and-go. Low growing shrubs, ground roses, catmint, Russian sage, creeping juniper and creeping phlox are just a few of the sturdy ground covers that can turn an uncooperative hillside into a vista full of color and texture.

Fill Spaces

Your patio may be a single expanse of stone, which is great when you want to cook, dine, or entertain outdoors, but that doesn’t mean every hardscape has to follow suit. You can create some beautiful effects with stepping stones and paving stones by placing them in a more irregular and natural configuration.

The only problem is that leaves you with lots of gaps that can easily fill with weeds. Even sand can become unmanageable and spread rather than adorn.

Once again, this is where ground cover shines. Everything from Irish moss to our friend creeping thyme can beautifully fill gaps between stones with a charming and far more interesting result.

Minimize Weeding…

Some types of ground cover can actually prevent the growth of weeds. This is great news for a low-maintenance landscape. Sure, mulch can help reduce weeds, too, but the nice thing about ground cover is that even if one or two weeds do sneak through, you’ll never notice!

Creeping phlox, thyme and sedum, clematis, stonecrop, and blue fescue are just a few of the lovely plants that you can use to add visual interest, color and texture all while creating an inhospitable environment for those pesky weeds.

…And Mowing

Do you love mowing your yard every week? No? Then it’s time to get acquainted with ground cover!

You can actually use many kinds of ground cover to replace some – or all – of your lawn. Any of the plants we’ve mentioned can be used in place of lawn, not to mention the myriad others, like alyssum, wild violet and more.

But some ground cover is tough enough to support foot traffic, too. Scotch moss, dwarf mondo grass, low growing chamomile and yarrow are a few of the plants that can look a whole lot more interesting than grass and won’t mind a bit of strolling.

walkway stepsSoften Edges

Even the smoothest of natural stone can create sharp edges against a softscape. Patios, stepping stones, and pathways are all excellent additions to your outdoor space but the edges will need some attention.

Ground cover can help soften those edges and smooth transitions between hardscapes and adjoining flowerbeds, lawn, or even the perimeter of a pond. As they spread out they will become threads of the fabric that hold other landscape elements together, offering a seamless and holistic appeal.

Shade Gardening: How To Create Beautiful Landscapes In Low LightConquer Shade

You’re bound to have at least one shady spot where nothing seems to grow, whether it’s along a side of your house that doesn’t quite get enough sun, or beneath an old shade tree.

The good news is that there are plenty of varieties of ground cover that will thrive in shade, filling in those bare spots with greenery, color and texture.

Bellflower, bugleweed, creeping myrtle and plenty more will bask in the shade and look a whole lot better than a bald spot.

Spotlight On: Fothergilla, From Flirty Flowers To Fall FabulousnessComplement Flowerbeds

If you love your big, showy flowers and shrubs but not the look of large swaths of mulch, it’s ground cover to the rescue! Adding these special plants into the mix can create texture, enhance visual interest, and can serve as a backdrop against which you can show off the rest of the garden.

Creeping sedum, ice plants, Japanese painted fern, creeping thyme and creeping Jenny are all excellent options for adding color and texture to existing beds. And yes, you can add the thyme to your next pot roast dinner!

Be Evergreen

Tired of dull, desaturated winter landscapes? Add an evergreen ground cover and you’ll never have to look at that expanse of brown lawn or bland mulch again.

Flowering evergreens will bring you a burst of color during warm months, and their greenery will last through the coldest. Our friends creeping thyme, phlox and myrtle explode into a carpet of color in spring, and will blanket your winter landscape with their four-season leaves.

Other types of ground cover bring the green all year, like European wild ginger with its bold and shiny green leaves, and juniper with a burst of texture. When you befriend ground cover, you will never have a dull or dreary landscape again.

Attract Wildlife

Whatever the season, wildlife adds beauty and interest to any outdoor space. Some ground cover is better at attracting and encouraging it to stay.

Plants like wintergreen and candytuft provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies and bees. Bearberry is pollinated by bumblebees, and its bright red berries are a favorite snack for birds and small mammals. Wild geranium brings the butterflies fluttering, and native grasses like Pennsylvania Sedge make excellent nesting spots for birds.

There are so many excellent options for ground cover, whether you want to fill in uninteresting garden spaces, add a bit of pizzaz to a hardscape, beautify slopes or shady spots, welcome the birds and the bees, or simply enjoy the visual interest they bring year-round.

If you’re ready to level up your landscape, let’s talk! Book a consultation and together we’ll plan the hardscapes, softscapes, and everything in between – including all that gorgeous ground cover!