Groundcovers are very underused in many gardens and landscapes. But just like any nicely decorated home, rugs and carpeting can turn the ordinary into extraordinary. Our outdoor spaces are no different. Groundcovers help to knit the taller plants together, providing a background template of colorful flowers and foliar textures.
Using Groundcovers in the Landscape
Groundcovers are also very effective at softening the look of hardscape elements, such as rock walls, railroad tie terraces, and slate, brick or flagstone walkways. Plan for their use by leaving space between walkway pavers or in rock walls where pockets of soil are available for planting.
And groundcovers are excellent substitutes for water thirsty lawns, especially when turf areas are used only as a green groundcover. Lawns can be costly and labor intensive to maintain. Groundcovers can perform the same function as a lawn but with a fraction of the water use and maintenance costs.
New Varieties for Fall
'Boulder Mountain' Pussy Toes (Antenaria dimorpha)
This plant is a wonderful discovery from the mountains of northeastern Utah. 'Boulder Mountain' Pussy Toes pours across the ground like mercury; its stems of evergreen, silver foliage rooting as they reach horizontally across the soil. Of all the Pussy toe species I've grown over the years, this selection is notably more durable, easier to grow, and tolerant of irregular watering. 'Boulder Mountain' tolerates moderate foot traffic and is invaluable for planting into the cracks of walkways and the edges of sunny paths. Best in the western United States: Cold hardy to zone 4.
Creeping Goldenaster (Heterotheca jonesii)
A little known native endemic (very limited natural distribution) species from Utah, creeping golden aster is actually widely adaptable. This little plant makes a big impression in the garden with its mat-like fuzzy, evergreen foliage and summer-long display of small yellow aster-like flowers that sit right on top of the leaves. Because it is less than an inch tall and roots as the stems spread, I prefer to use it instead of creeping thyme because it's much more durable and tolerant of dry conditions. Best in the western United States: Cold hardy to zone 4.
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