Monthly Archives: May 2013

Groundcovers Beautify Garden While Preventing Weeds

Plumbago provides a carnival of colors throughout the fall.

Plumbago provides a carnival of colors throughout the fall.

When it comes to weeds, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  As you know from experience, it takes a lot of time, money and energy to get rid of weeds once they appear.  What’s worse is when weeds go to seed.  Just one weed can produce hundreds of seeds for current and future germination.

Weeds can pop up anywhere, but their favorite places to show up are bare patches of ground or patches where vegetation is sparse.  That’s why it’s so important to fill spaces between trees, shrubs and other plants in your borders to shade the ground and keep weeds from germinating.  You can fill those spaces with various types of mulch, or you can fill them with groundcovers.

Most groundcovers are one foot tall or less.  But there are taller groundcovers as well.  Ideally, the groundcovers should spread grow densely and spread relatively quickly to keep weeds down.

Attractive spring-blooming groundcovers that meet these criteria include basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis), prostrate veronica (Veronica prostrata), woolly speedwell (Veronica pectinata), bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) and June-bearing strawberries (Fragaria). Ever-bearing strawberries send out few or no runners, so if you’re looking for dense coverage, June bearers are a better bet.

Dense summer-blooming groundcovers include prairie winecups (Callirhoe involucrata), Kannah Creek buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum var. aureum ‘Psdowns’), orange carpet hummingbird (Zauschneria garrettii), lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and seafoam artemisia (Artemisia versicolor ‘Seafoam’).  However, seafoam artemisia’s best feature is its curled, silvery-blue foliage rather than its flowers.

A great fall bloomer is plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) with its cornflower blue blossoms and copper seed heads.

With its glossy green leaves and double blooms, the sea foam rose enhances the landscape while preventing weeds.

With its glossy green leaves and double blooms, the sea foam rose enhances the landscape while preventing weeds.

For taller groundcovers, try seafoam rose (Rosa ‘Seafoam’), which produces double white blooms from early summer till frost.  This gorgeous, low-maintenance rose is so popular that it grows in the White House rose garden.  The plant grows two to four feet high

Another taller groundcover is Pawnee Buttes sand cherry (Prunus besseyi ‘Pawnee Buttes’).  This hardy, drought-tolerant plant generates showy white blooms in the spring and blazing red foliage in the fall.  It grows 15 to 18 inches tall.

By getting to know groundcovers and their uses, you can enjoy a more beautiful garden with lower maintenance.

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