Shrubs for Ground Cover
Plants for Problem Positions
In spots where nothing seems to grow except weeds, hoeing and weeding may not be enough to keep the quick, unwanted growth at bay. You can achieve an attractive, low-maintenance display with shrubs that have a naturally low habit of growth.
Whether under trees on steep, dry banks, or along the edges of paths, every garden has a tricky spot where weeds keep spreading fast and obstinately. A simple and efficient solution to this problem is to plant ground cover shrubs. Once these are established, weeds can no longer obtain enough light to thrive. They can keep the problem area free of weeds for years and require little care.
Dense and Fast Growing
Plants are suitable as ground cover if they have a low or, even better, a creeping growth habit. Their foliage must also be dense enough – at least from spring until autumn – to stop weed seedlings from growing between their twigs. They should be attractive and vigorous, but not to the extent of being unduly invasive.
It is best to choose quick-growing deciduous or coniferous shrubs or plants which cover the ground completely within one or two years. Slow-growing species have to be planted close together to achieve the same effect, and this considerably increases the cost, and the work you have to do early on.
Plan in Advance
Although ground cover plants are seldom given close attention, and they do not strike the eye with bright colours, their planting should be as well planned as for a rose-garden or specimen shrub. Investigating their requirements in advance saves a lot of time and money
Evergreens Are a Low-Maintenance Choice
Evergreen species, which keep their leaves all year round, are especially suitable for ground cover. Try planting conifers between herbaceous beds or trees, where a lawn would need regular mowing all summer.
Make sure you choose varieties to suit the location and do not need much more attention than an annual prune and feed. They should also be long-lived.
Conifers for Long Lasting Interest
Conifers are available with green, yellow and blue foliage, so think carefully about how your choices work together and the overall effect. Many varieties look their best as specimens. Ground cover evergreens are also very attractive when planted in rock gardens, or accompanying colourful herbaceous flowers in a border.
Deciduous Shrubs Offer Extra Variety
Deciduous shrubs offer changing interest throughout the seasons, from the buds of spring to the full leaf cover of summer and the golden tones of autumn. Some shrubs may also offer flowers, catkins or berries. Creating harmony between the neighbouring plants is as important with deciduous shrubs as it is with evergreens. Take care to match foliage and flower colours as well as flowering times.
Solutions for Slopes
If you have sloping spots in your garden where the soil is continually being washed away, you can solve this problem by planting ground cover plants. Their root systems keep the soil in place, just as grass does on a cliff or mountain. Edges of paths can also be softened by growing striking, creeping ground cover plants.