Ground Covers Add A Polished Look To Your Landscape

Do you have the feeling that your yard is missing something? You’ve got all the beautiful shrubs, colorful annuals; but the beds are lacking that “full” look? You may be missing out on the wonderful world of groundcover! Groundcovers can turn your flower beds into a luscious garden. Here at the Family Tree, we have a variety of groundcovers that are guaranteed to fit your liking and your lawn. If you’ve never used groundcover before, or are simply looking for some more information on caring for them, here are some tips for planting your groundcover.

Hellebores (Helleborus, Lenten Rose)
This is not your average groundcover! Helleborus (also called Lenten Rose for their beautiful flowers) have bell shaped, rose like flowers that bloom from January to May. There are a few types of these beauties.  The old fashion Helleborus (the kind that spread easily and have flowers that hang down under the leaves) are super hardy under your trees and in shade gardens. They are evergreen and bloom every year beginning in December or January on into May.  They spread easily by seed after they have been in the ground for about 3 years creating a lush undergrowth. 
The new hybrid varieties (Pink Frost, Candy Love, Love Bug, and Honeymoon) have more vibrant colored flowers ranging from white to deep burgundy that bloom above the leaves. They are sterile so they do not spread.  They look beautiful in a shade garden and in flower pots.  They are deer resistant, making them a great groundcover to use in large areas under trees or along the edges of flower beds. Helleborus tend to grow and spread a bit slower than other groundcovers, but a good stimulator can speed up the growing process when you plant. Space the plants about 10 inches apart, throw a bit of Bio-Tone in each hole, and your Helleborus groundcover will thrive in thick clumps.

Liriope
Also known as lilyturf or Monkey Grass, this perennial is a member for the lily family. The two main varieties are Big Blue (solid green leaves) and Variegated (green with white edges). It forms in clumps and can grow between 10-18 inches tall. During the summer, Liriope produces purple or white blooms. One of the best characteristics of Liriope is how easy to care for it is. It prefers to be partially shaded, but can grow in full sunlight during the cooler seasons. Establishment is key for Liriope, and fertile soil is needed for strong roots. The Family Tree recommends a wonderful root stimulator called Bio-Tone that will guarantee a great beginning for this ground cover in your lawn. Use a small scoop of Bio-Tone in each hole, spacing the plants about 12 inches apart. They will fill-in in just a few years, providing a full “tall grassslike” look. Once your Liriope is established, the only care needed is to mow it the first of March to about 3-4 inches tall. Fertilize once a year in March.

Mondo
Mondo Grass and Dwarf Mondo Grass are an excellent alternative for shady areas where grass won’t grow. It will form a beautiful carpet and look grass-like. Once established, you can pretty much forget it. Mondo prefers shade but it will be fine with morning or evening sun. Plant about 10 inches apart, using Bio-Tone root stimulator in each hole to guarantee strong, spreading roots.

Asiatic Jasmine
Growing in thick mats up to around 10 inches high, Asiatic Jasmine or Asian Jasmine is perfect for the steeper sections of your lawn. This vining evergreen will eventually spread between 2 and 3 feet and produce tiny pink, white, or yellow flowers. Asiatic Jasmine is often planted under trees as it does well in partial shade, but can take some morning or evening sun. Spacing for this groundcover is a little wider than others; around 1 ½ feet. While it may look a bit too spacey, it will usually only take two growing seasons to fill up the empty space. You can speed this process up a bit more but using Bio-Tone root stimulator to quickly get the roots established and begin the spreading.

Pachysandra
This bushy groundcover is another great plant to place under trees to give your garden a fuller look. Pachysandra also produces a fragrant white flower in the spring, adding to its appeal. Recommended spacing for this groundcover is between 6 and 12 inches. Pachysandra likes healthy soil to get its roots established, so a small scoop of Bio-Tone in each hole will surely do the trick. This groundcovers leaves can be easily sunburnt, so be sure to plant in a shady location.

Vinca Minor
Also known as Myrtle and Perennial Periwinkle, this groundcover grows best in shady to partially sunny areas. Vinca Minor is a creeping groundcover, forming a dense mat of a beautiful dark green once established. The variegated variety has green leaves with white outline. Recommended spacing for this groundcover is between 6 and 8 inches, allowing space to ground both out and up; Vinca Minor will reach up to 6 inches in height once it is fully mature.

One last good rule of thumb for most groundcovers is to keep the weeds out. Periodically clean out any weeds that may grow between your groundcovers in order to eliminate competition and allow your groundcover to grow faster and healthier.

For more information and expert advice, visit The Family Tree Garden Center!

By Lindsey Meade