Choosing the Best Ground Cover Plants
When deciding what to plant in your garden, you should first think about plants in terms of what categories they fit into. Ground cover plants are a category of low growing, spreading plants. Ground cover plants are the last consideration of a planting plan, but they are essential in a successful scheme.
Ground cover plants offer an attractive, low maintenance cover. They reduce the need to weed & fill gaps in flower beds quickly while you wait for larger plants to grow.
Ground cover plants can be positioned to the front of borders, under larger shrubs, along difficult sloping sites & can be used as a lawn alternative. They are so useful, these plants are an essential tool in every gardeners tool box.
Below is a list of our most recommended & hard working ground covers that you can grow in gardens in Ireland.
When we think of ground cover, Ajuga is always the first plant that springs to mind because of it's fast growing & spreading habit. If Ajuga was left to its own devices it would cover entire gardens. Ajuga reptans comes in many cultivar with various leaf colours & textures but is predominately purple in colour. It has a 2 metre spread and grows best in full sun or partial shade.
Dead nettle can be a love-hate plant. It's foliage sometimes too closely resembles the stinging nettle for me to fully adopt this as a garden plant. But it certainly makes an effective ground cover. Lamium is fast growing, evergreen and happy in shaded locations. It's foliage is variegated green and white & produces spires of purple flowers in Summer. It's spread is around 1 metre and it grows best in full sun or part shade.
This relation of St Johns Wort may not seem like an obvious choice for ground cover, but it truly is. This prostrate plant is perfect for a sloping bank as it produces long spreading stems at can re-root and spread again and again. Like all ground covers, it is evergreen and fast growing. We recommend giving this plant a good feed until it is established. It's spread is around 1.5m and again it likes full sun or partial shaded locations.
Top of the love / hate list comes ivy. In fact most people hate it, but they fail to see it's one true quality and that is weed control. Ivy, as we know can spread fast and it can cover and colonize soils preventing anything else from growing. If ivy is managed it can create a lovely sea of glossy green leaves and will save you on maintenance & weeding in difficult sites. It's spread is an impressive 5 metres and as before, it likes sunny locations but will also grow well in partial shade.
Patience is required here, but the end results are unbeatable. Saxifrages are an incredible collection of alpine plants. They are suited to shallow soils and exposed sites and will offer a splash of colour in the Summer months. For best results, combine saxifrage with other ground cover & coniferous ground cover plants. It's spread per plant is 6cm and it grows best in full sun.
Similar to ivy, pachysandra has deep, glossy, evergreen leaves. They are slower growing though and will therefore require more maintenance until they have become established. These plants require acidic soil and are happiest in shaded locations with a per plant spread of around i metre.
Persicaria Darjeeling Red
One of several Persicarias that we can recommend for colour ground cover in your garden. This plant is semi-evergreen with the foliage dying back slightly in Winter but it is Summer when this plant displays tall spikes of pink & red flowers. Having a spread of around 1 metre, it likes full sun best but will grow well also in part shade.