Groundcovers are one of the most useful and adaptable plants available to gardeners. Groundcovers can solve all kinds of gardening problems. They are ideal for gardens which are either too rocky for shrubs or too rooty for a sizeable plant. Reducing the size of lawn space in a garden and replacing with groundcover will make for easier maintenance while creating space for a variety of textures and colors. Some groundcovers, such as ajuga, are even tough enough to walk on.. Groundcovers require much less maintenance than lawn as the they don’t need to be mowed. They’re able fill in around stepping stones where grass is often trampled. Groundcovers are often used as erosion control as well. Steep slopes, where rain water can cause erosion, benefit from groundcover plantings as their roots hold the soil in place. Where mowing is difficult groundcovers are a useful alternative.
Baltic ivy, vinca, pachysandra, ajuga and English ivy all thrive in the shade and provide a thick and lush green carpet. Vinca and ajuga bloom with purple, white or yellow flowers in the spring and the purple and green foliage of ajuga contrasts nicely with lawn. Rocky areas ideal for groundcovers such as thyme or sedum as they require little soil and are able to tolerate poor soils.
Though all gardens and plants require some sort of care, groundcover are easy to grow and require little maintenance. Preventing them from spreading into gardens that you don’t want them is one task that’s necessary during the growing season. Check on the as you walk through the garden and cut them back as needed, usually about once a month. Some groundcovers will flower in the summer and deadheading will improve its look. English ivy, a very popular groundcover, is a fast, vigorous grower which can invade shrubs, trees, lawns and perennial beds. It can attach itself to and climb stone walls and rock outcroppings. You should prevent it from climbing into your trees.
Low growing, spreading or creeping shrubs such as rambling roses, “blue rug” juniper and cotoneaster are great as groundcovers. Other groundcovers worth trying are sweet woodruff and Baltic ivy as well as ginger and lily of the valley both of which do well in deep shade. Don't skimp when planting, the closer you place each plant to each other the faster the area will fill in. Before planting, prepare the area as you would a perennial bed. During the early stages, while the groundcover is beginning to take hold, be sure to pull weeds as they come up. Because they don’t like completion, ignoring the weed that sprout can severely reduce the ability of the groundcover to spread.
Once the groundcover forms a dense carpet-like layer, weeds become less of a problem. Once the groundcovers have established themselves you have achieved your goal of a self-sustaining, low maintenance landscape.