Ground Cover Shrubs

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 easy-care display with shrubs that have a naturally low habit of growth.

Whether under trees, on steep, dry banks, or near the edges of paths, every garden has a tricky spot where weeds keep spreading fast and obstinately.

the rock rose - helianthemum - spreads rapidly in full sun

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 keep the problem area weed free 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.

Conifers save you trouble

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 any you choose suit their location, and do not need much more attention than an annual prune and feed. They should be long lived — you want at least five, and preferably ten, years of pleasure from them.

A vibrant display

Conifers are available with green, yellow and blue foliage, but do not place one species next to another without considering 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 delight

Creating harmony be­tween the neighbouring plants is as important with deciduous shrubs as it is with evergreens.

Single-species plant­ings can look dull, while extreme colour contrasts create a chaotic effect. Take care to match foliage and flower colours as well as flowering times.



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, but easy-care, low or creeping ground cover plants.

Popular Varieties

Very sunny positions:

broom (Cytisus x beanii, C. decumbent, C. x kewensis, Genista lydia, Genista sagittalis).

cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa ‘Red Ace’).

cotoneaster (C. cochleatus, C. dammeri, C. microphyllus, C. salicifolius ‘Repens’).

St John’s wort (Hypericum calycinum, H. x moserianum).

willow (Salix purpurea ‘Nana’, S. repens var. argentea).

Sunny to partial shade:

Cotoneaster adpressus.

dogwood (Cornus canadensis).

euonymus (Euonymus fortunei varieties).

evergreen honeysuckle (Lonicera pileala).

heath (Erica species).

heather (Calluna vulgaris).

Magellan barberry (Berberis buxifolia ‘Nana’, B. candidula).

pernettya (Gaultheria mucronata).

privet (Ligustrum vulgare).

wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens).

Very shaded positions:

bilberry, blueberry, cranberry, whortleberry (Vaccinium species).

dwarf rhododendron (Rhododendron forrestii Repens Group).

Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium ‘Apollo’ and other cultivars).

Pachysandra terminalis.

St John’s wort (Hypericum patulum var. henryi).

22. August 2011 by admin
Categories: Ground Cover, Plants | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Ground Cover Shrubs


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