Groundcovers are used in the landscape to cover large areas with low-growing plants. The plants may be herbaceous, where the foliage dies at the end of the growing season, or evergreen, where the plant remains green year-around. Groundcovers may be used as a colorful base in a landscape grouping or as a border to taller flowers or shrubs. Groundcovers are particularly beneficial in areas where mowing is difficult, like on a hill or narrow strip of soil. Mid-Atlantic gardeners are in USDA zones 5b to 8a.
Spring bloomers like fragrant lily of the valley or lily-turf (liriope), which looks like blades of grass with spiral flowers, are good choices as groundcover. Sedum offers different varieties of bloom color that can appear from late spring into early summer. Choose leadwort for summer to fall blooms of striking blue. If you live in zone 5 or 6 where the summers are less harsh than more southern zones, spring blooming barrenwort, bugleweed or dead nettle are options for sunny flower beds. Bugleweed may remain green through winter. Flowering vines, like clematis, can also be used as ground cover.
Bearberry is a slow grower that appreciates afternoon shade. Creeping juniper is drought resistant and can discourage foot traffic through a sunny flower bed. English ivy will grow almost anywhere, roots deeply and can grow back quickly if accidentally cut by the lawnmower. Immergrunchen can handle the sun in mid Atlantic states. Immergrunchen shed some of its leaves in winter while others turn amber.
Care for Groundcovers
Add mulch in the open areas of newly set plants to reduce weed growth and help to prevent erosion if the plantings are on a hillside. As the plants spread, mulching will no longer be necessary. Water the newly set plants every 7 to 10 days unless there is a saturating rain. After 2 to 3 years in the ground, clumps can be dug up, divided and replanted to expedite coverage of the area.