Three Ways To Use Perennial Groundcovers In Your Garden

by Amanda

perennial groundcovers - creeping phlox

Creeping Phlox looks fantastic planted with spring-blooming bulbs such as Tulips.

Have you been searching for a way to fill in your garden bed, liven up your stone pathway, or naturally suppress weeds? The answer to all of these garden dilemmas is groundcovers!

Perennial groundcovers are not only a solution to a variety of problems in the garden, but also offer up spectacular color and food for pollinators in your area. Whether you're looking for a carpet of spring color to complement your favorite Tulip bulbs, or want to fill in around the stepping-stones in your property with pollinator-friendly plants, there is sure to be a groundcover to fit your landscape.

1. Using Perennial Groundcovers: Filling In Between Stones

This is one of the most popular (and eye-catching) ways to use groundcovers in the landscape. Use perennial groundcovers to fill in gaps between stone walls, spread and spill in rock gardens, or most commonly, to plant in between stepping-stones. Over time, the groundcovers will fill in completely between the stones and create a soft, colorful touch to your walkway.

perennial groundcovers - creeping phlox

Creeping Thyme is a fantastic filler for stone walkways, walls and more.

When deciding which varieties to use, make sure to take into account the sunlight, soil and water requirements for each plant. Most importantly, check to make sure the groundcover can tolerate some foot traffic. Creeping Thyme is one of best perennial groundcovers to use in between stepping-stones paths, as it's extremely forgiving and tolerates both pet and human traffic well.

 

If you're looking for plants to fill in rock gardens or stonewalls, sedum is a perfect choice. Sedum is a bit slow growing and takes several seasons to fill in. But it is extremely drought-friendly and requires little supplemental water, making it great for rock gardens or stonewalls.

2. Using Perennial Groundcovers: Planting Hard-to-Reach Areas

Perennial groundcovers are often extremely easy to grow and require little maintenance, which makes them the perfect candidate for hard-to-reach areas.

creeping thyme in walkwaycreeping thyme in walkway
A fantastic use of creeping thyme in between stones in a walkway.
low grow sedumlow grow sedum
The sky is the limit! This container is planted with low-growing sedum.
creeping flox on wallcreeping flox on wall
Plant creeping phlox in a hard-to-reach area and watch it spread each season with little maintenance.

Creeping Phlox is a fantastic spring flowering-groundcover, often used to fill in between spring-blooming bulbs such as Tulips and Daffodils. The best part about phlox is it needs as little maintenance as the bulbs require.

Sedum, as mentioned above, doesn’t require much supplemental water, making it a great choice for hard-to-reach or extremely sunny areas. 

Lamium is a shade-loving groundcover that is happy when planted under deciduous and evergreen shrubs and trees. It thrives in places where grass or other plants may struggle with little sunlight.

Ajuga is another colorful groundcover that thrives in shady, moist areas. This quick-spreading groundcover will fast become the star of your shade garden. If you don't want it taking over your lawn, keep Ajuga contained in one area.

3.Using Perennial Groundcovers: Plant a Living Mulch to Help Fight Weeds!

Although many are used to adding wood mulch or using good old-fashioned hand weeding to help fight weeds, what if instead you used living plants as mulch?

perennial groundcovers - lamium

Shade-loving Lamium fills in this garden bed, leaving no room for weeds to grow.

The idea of living mulch is practiced and taught by many landscape designers, including Claudia West, who points out that in the wild you typically don’t see bare dirt. This is because plants fill in the ground level on their own. Perennial groundcovers are a great way to take this idea and put it to use in your own landscape.

Varieties such as Lamium, Ajuga Pachysandra 'Silver Edge' and Lily of the Valley are fantastic weed blockers.

Simply add them in between your flowering perennials and they'll work for you in two ways: by outcompeting weeds with their low growth, and by adding visual interest and color to your garden. West recommends packing in small plugs (4-inch or smaller) potted perennials of the groundcovers liberally, instead of planting them far apart with dirt in between. Less dirt means fewer weeds!

Using Perennial Groundcovers: Your Creativity Is The Limit

perennial groundcovers - sedum

We love this sedum-filled garden.

No matter what type of garden you have, or what type of problem you’re trying to solve with groundcovers, your creativity is really the limit. We've seen groundcovers filling in old wheel barrows planted with dirt, Sedum used as living wreaths, and many perennial groundcovers used in container plantings. So get creative this season and fill in your gardens with hard-working groundcovers!

  1. Lamium Orchid Frost, Lamium maculatum, Dead Nettle

    Orchid Frost makes a great groundcover for shade with variegated leaves and orchid-pink bloom. Only 8 inches tall. PP#11122 (Lamium maculatum)...

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    Orchid Frost Lamium Orchid Frost Dead Nettle PP#11122 Lamium maculatum Orchid Frost PP#11122
    As low as $9.98 Sale $5.99
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    Virginia Bluebell’s gorgeous flowers start out as lovely, pastel pink buds and open up into vivid, true blue blooms. A perfect addition to part and full-shade woodland gardens, pla...

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    As low as $18.98 Sale $12.99
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    Virginia Bluebell’s gorgeous flowers start out as lovely, pastel pink buds and open up into vivid, true blue blooms. A perfect addition to part and full-shade woodland gardens, plant Virginia Bluebells to see early spring blooms and frequent visits from pollinators. This native plant increases in size each year and will form a beautiful colony over time with almost no care from the gardener. (Mertensia virginica)
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  3. Treasured Trillium Collection

    The Treasured Trillium Collection celebrates the most-beloved woodland wildflower in all the land! Featuring five different varieties, including Snowy White, Red (Wake Robin), Yellow...

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    $95.98 Sale $79.99
    Per Collection of 15
    The Treasured Trillium Collection celebrates the most-beloved woodland wildflower in all the land! Featuring five different varieties, including Snowy White, Red (Wake Robin), Yellow, Rose (also called Nodding trillium), and the unusual Painted trillium, be sure to leave a bit of room for these beauties to spread and multiply. Plant together for a carpet of spring blooms.
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