Garden Ground Cover

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  • July 5, 2018

There are many types of ground cover available, but which one is the right option for your garden? We’ve compiled a list of ground cover plants and where they thrive to help you choose the perfect option for the look you’re going for and the level of maintenance and care you prefer.

In general, a ground cover plant is any plant that grows wider than it does tall. So you have a lot of options, from low growing ground cover with a creeping or trailing habit to short, broad shrubs. “Woody” shrubs are what most people associate with hedges – they have a woody trunk and branches. “Herbaceous” shrubs do not have this woody feature, instead having soft and pliable stems.

Ground Cover Plants Shade

Many Australian native plants have adapted to intense heat and sunlight, but many gardens have patches of shade that offer unique challenges for ground cover. For full or deep shade areas, you’ll want to avoid succulents and cacti, since they thrive in full sun to part shade conditions.

Ground Cover Shrubs Shade

Some woody and herbaceous shrubs can be formed into hedges or ground cover plants. These are a few examples of shade-loving shrubs for your garden:

  • Liriope muscari:
    This grassy perennial tolerates full shade, although it grows more quickly in half shade to sunny conditions. It works well as an edging or accent plant, forming clumps that can be divided to create new plants.
  • Bergenia:
    A hardy family of plants with glossy foliage. The foliage thrives in shade, while the flowers thrive in sunnier spots. They do well planted under trees and in poor soils, with many different varieties available with different flower colors.
  • Sweet Box ‘Sarcococca Confusa’:
    A shade-loving evergreen shrub with tiny flowers that produce a delicious fragrance. Low-maintenance, it may require some pruning to keep it low to the ground. Can be used as a hedge as well as a ground cover.

Carpeting Ground Cover Plants Shade

“Carpeting” ground cover plants are plants that grow low to the ground, forming a mat of sorts to cover and insulate bare soil. It can be difficult to find attractive low growing ground cover plants that thrive in shady areas, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Goodenia ovata ‘Gold Cover’ Goodenia:
    Grows well in sun to half shade conditions, this drought-tolerant ground cover grows quickly and produces lovely yellow flowers during warmer months. It works well for a variety of settings, including containers and sloping garden designs.
  • Westringia fruticosa ‘Flat n Fruity’:
    This tough ground cover is a variety of coastal rosemary with a dense, low-growing habit. It’s the ultimate low-maintenance ground cover for a variety of conditions, including all types of soil and low water regions. It has grey-green foliage and produces small white flowers year-round. It’s a great option for planting under trees and other areas with persistent shade.
  • Ajuga:
    This family of plants grows very low to the ground and is a great choice if you’re looking for fast growing ground cover plants. Choose from different leaf colors and variegations. It will thrive in moist shade to the point of pushing out other plants, but it’s easy to trim and keep under control.

Ground Cover Plants Full Sun

There are plenty of sun-loving ground cover plants. Many flowering ground cover plants prefer full sun to put on their best show of color. If you’re looking for ground cover plants for full sun that are low maintenance, consider growth speed and abundance as well as fertilizer and water needs. A fast-growing groundcover may get away from you and require extensive pruning if left ignored for too long!

Succulents Ground Cover Plants

Succulents are ideal for dry regions since they’re made to thrive in desert conditions. Sedums are a good choice for prostrate, creeping ground covers, available in colors from blue-gray to green and red. Rosette-forming succulents are another option, including many varieties of Echeveria, and make a great choice for rock gardens as well.

Carpeting Ground Cover Plants Full Sun

  • Adenanthos cuneatus:
    This plant offers unique textured foliage when grown in full sun, a mix of glossy green and red. It’s fast-growing and looks beautiful spilling over retaining walls or embankments.
  • Grevillea ‘Bronze Rambler’:
    The Grevillea family offers several dense and fast-growing ground covers with eye-catching evergreen foliage. ‘Bronze Rambler’ is a great pick for difficult sites and will pioneer areas quickly to keep unwanted weeds from setting in. Check out ‘Poorinda Royal Mantle’ as well for another unique ground cover Grevillea.
  • Hibbertia scandens:
    Also known as Guinea Flower, this twining plant is low-maintenance, fast-growing, and produces large yellow flowers in summer. Use it as a ground cover along fences or set up trellises for it to climb as it spreads.

Ground Cover Shrubs Full Sun

A low spreading shrub for full sun can add some interesting texture to a rock garden or hardscape design.

  • Salt Bush:
    There are a lot of varieties of this hardy native Australian plant. It handles dry and salty soils well and forms into small spreading shrubs.
  • Westringia:
    Used as a low growing shrub and ground cover, the members of this plant family produce a high number of small flowers. Trim it into a formal hedge or let it run wild as a spreading ground cover.
  • Callistemon:
    These plants include the popular Bottlebrush and are incredibly hardy Australian natives. As shrubs or small trees, they make great low maintenance feature plants or borders with their gorgeous flowers.

This is just a small sampling of your options for Australian ground cover plants. Expert Landscape Architecture Design Melbourne – Normark can help you choose the perfect combination of plants and other design features for your garden!