One of the most visually pleasing aspects of any landscape is the presence of plants at varying heights. Like any work of art, a beautiful garden relies on specific design elements to capture the eye and gently lead the viewer into the space. Low-maintenance ground cover plants can complete the look of your landscape by providing design elements including balance, texture, and color.
Ground cover is an often overlooked—but vitally important—element in any beautiful garden, as well as in landscaping in general. Relatively inexperienced planters miss ground cover plants because they aren’t as well-known and flashy as their more dramatic counterparts, like flowers and trees. That being said, their absence often leaves gardeners thinking, “Something’s missing.”
Complete the picture by introducing low-maintenance ground cover plants to your landscape. These plants are dynamic in their appearance but simple to plant and maintain. They add richness to the lowest level of your garden, as well as texture, drawing your eye into the space. They also provide color, acting as a border to the entirety of your beds or landscaping.
What is Ground Cover?
Outside the element of design, ground cover also serves more practical purposes.
Ground cover is any low-growing plant that sprawls, crawls, or spreads across the ground’s surface. These plants create a dense covering, which can help prevent erosion and protect the soil underneath. Besides adding low-maintenance beauty and curb appeal to your home, ground cover can also suppress the growth of weeds.
When you’re using ground cover to prevent weeds, think of it as a living mulch. Due to the density of these plants, the soil below rarely sees sunlight (goodbye weeds!). It also absorbs and retains moisture and it provides a habitat for wildlife. Rich soil provides vital nutrients to all the plants in your garden or landscaping, making ground cover plants a superhero of your ecosystem’s design and health!
Low Maintenance Ground Cover Plants
As we’ve discussed, ground cover plays a role in the balance, texture, and color of your outdoor space, while preventing weeds. It works to add dimension to the lowest level of your garden. It adds texture that leads your eye into the space, and the color works as a framing device to the beauty rising above it.
That’s a lot of added value from such an inauspicious and easily maintained plant!
While there are several low-maintenance ground covers, we’d like to highlight a few here. These are four ground covers homeowners will love regardless of how developed their green thumb is.
Liriope and Variegated Liriope
The term variegated indicates there are different colored zones on leaves, stems, fruits or flowers.
When it comes to Liriopes, there are both unvaried and varicolored plants. Regardless of the type you choose, this hearty and richly textured ground cover adds color and softness to your garden or landscaping. Big Blue Liriope, Variegated Liriope and Liriope Muscari Okina are just some of the stunning varieties that create beautiful clusters and borders.
Liriope is a clumping perennial grass that is easy to care for. Simply plant in full sun or partial shade. Liriope is adaptable to a variety of soils as long as they aren’t too saturated. When first planting, be sure to water twice per week, but once established, it’s a drought-tolerant plant.
Junipers are excellent in preventing erosion in raised beds or on hills. They also provide beautiful textures to a landscape.
Blue Pacific Juniper is an excellent choice if you’re more concerned with texture and a uniformed pop of color than flowering cover. Not only is it low maintenance, but it’s also drought tolerant and adds a luxurious uniformity to the slopes in your yard or garden. Plant in full to part sun. These plants adapt to most any soil that drains well. Junipers like the Blue Pacific and Blue Star Juniper are drought tolerant. Water when first planting and then reserve water for dry spells only.
You don’t often hear the words “roses” and “low-maintenance” in the same sentence. Drift Roses, however, are delightfully low-maintenance!
Drift Roses come in several colors and varieties. Sweet Drift® roses have light pink blossoms that will brighten your day. They’re an excellent ground cover rose bush that you can plant anywhere you want the sweet smell of roses wafting through the air. Depending on your tastes and color schemes, you may prefer white, red, pink, coral, apricot or peach.
Drift roses are drought tolerant. Only water when the ground is dry. Use a slow release fertilizer when planting for best results.
Another low-maintenance ground cover plant is the Gardenia Radicans. This plant is perfect as a ground cover, border, foundation, or container gardenia. It’s also disease resistant and features boldly fragrant and stunning blooms!
Plant in full sun or part shade. Gardenia Radicans prefer acidic soil, so make sure your soil is acidic before planting or you’ll have to amend. Soil should remain moist but well-drained.
As you can see, just because a plant is low-maintenance doesn’t mean it isn’t a dynamic addition to your outdoor spaces. Low-maintenance ground cover plants transform your gardens and yards into lush oases!
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