Ground cover plants are extremely beneficial in suppressing weed growth within the garden beds and amongst the ornamental plants. However, utility does not have to be the primary function, ground cover plants are aesthetically beneficial too, with many being highly decorative in their own right. A variety of colours and textures are to be found and once established most weed seedlings that attempt to grow will be successfully smothered by the ground cover canopy, depriving them of light and competing with them for water.
Ground cover plants also have great benefits with regards to the garden location and site topography.
Where steep slopes exist and are subject to erosion, plants with a low spreading habit and vigorous root growth will provide stability to the soil, particularly after heavy rainfalls. The following are recommended:
Juniperus squamata – Blue Carpet.
Cotoneaster dammeri – Bear Berry.
Hypericum calycinum – Rose of Sharon.
A wildlife garden can benefit too with the addition of ground cover to attract the bees and butterflies, such as:
Thymus praecox – creeping thyme.
Lotus corniculatus – bird’s foot trefoil.
In dry locations and to inhibit evaporation from soil and to eliminate the use of a top surface mulch, ground cover plants should not be underestimated. A dense planting of evergreens will assist in shading the soil, keeping it cool and natural leaf decomposition will act as the mulch.
The following plants are suggested:
Rosmarinus – rosemary
Lavandula – lavender
Cistus skanbergii – dwarf pink rockrose.
Cistus Corbariensis – hybrid rockrose.
Ground cover plants can provide colour to areas of shade, the following are examples:
Bergenia – Ballawley, elephants ears.
Euonymus fortunei – spindle emerald/gold.
Symphytum x uplandicum ‘Variegatum’
When selecting ground cover plants it is best to choose the ones of vigorous growth and that will cover their allotted space in a short duration of time. It is important that they are perennial, either evergreen all year round or emerging rapidly in spring before the unwanted weeds have a chance to set seed.
Ground cover plants are not necessarily confined to low growing, but taller shrubs of medium height can also be used to
suppress weeds beneath their own canopy and below tree canopies too, such as:
Fatsia japonica - ‘Variegata’
Cotoneaster conspicuss – Tibetan.
Prunus lauroceraus - ‘OttoLuyken’
There are numerous ornamental ground cover plants available that can provide great colour and interest to the garden and when preparing to plant, ensure that the ground is weed free prior to planting and take heed of the recommended spacing, as this can vary from plant to plant.
This year and the years to follow, why not reduce the weeding time and bring additional benefits to the garden by incorporating a variety of ground cover plants.
Hello everyone, Green Landscapes Cornwall are sharing with you some ideas about how to implement different features for your garden!