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Landscaping with perennial ground covers

Good Gardening

Perennial ground covers are low growing plants usually only 1-3 inches high that spread along the ground and come back year after year.

Perennial ground covers serve to help retain soil moisture, fill in empty spaces to help reduce weeds, and provide habitat for beneficial insects and small animals. The addition of perennial ground covers to a garden enhance the look and feel of the garden for years.

They come in a variety of types. Some are fast spreading, making them valuable to prevent erosion on steep banks or to cover large open areas. Others are slower spreading and useful in gardens between pavers, cascading over rocks, as attractive borders, and in groups between other flowering perennials or shrubs.

A ground cover perennial bed can be created around groups of shade or ornamental trees replacing a struggling lawn to provide more of a low maintenance area and protect the shallow tree roots. Most perennial ground covers bloom once but have nice foliage that continues throughout the season. Many are drought tolerant.

Some sun-loving perennial ground covers common in our area’s gardens are creeping or wooly thyme (Thymus), creeping phlox (Phlox sublata), basket of gold allyssum (Aurinia saxatilis), snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosa), rock cress (Arabis), sea thrift (Armaria), pin cushion plant (Scabiosa), ice plant (Delosperma), and the numerous varieties of Sedum.

Some varieties common in our area that thrive in more shaded areas are dead nettle (Lamium), Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis), ivy (hedera helix), periwinkle (vinca), lilly of the valley (Convallaria majalis), English or Irish moss (Sagina sublata), sweet woodruff (Gallium odoratum) and blue star creeper (Pratia pendiculata).

There are a great many additional varieties of perennial ground covers, so plan a trip to a plant nursery to check out what is available and try some of the new varieties.


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