One of the best ways to reduce the time spent maintaining gardens is through careful plant selection.
Groundcovers are one group of plants that can be of real benefit in reducing or in some cases eliminating the need for maintenance.
Groundcovers are an excellent way of covering up those bare areas in a garden or hiding unattractive structures such as masonry or timber retaining walls.
A groundcover is a plant that grows or spreads horizontally across the soil surface, covering the area with a mat of foliage that is often impenetrable by weeds. It is that fact alone that makes groundcovers an attractive selection for many gardeners.
The most commonly used groundcover in the garden is turf, however in gardening circles, groundcovers are plants that are often used as a lawn alternative. In areas where there is little foot traffic, dry shade or steep slopes, groundcovers may be a better option.
The benefits of groundcover plants go beyond their aesthetic appeal. They can be classed as a living mulch providing all the benefits that mulch does.
They are excellent for stabilising slopes and preventing soil erosion, suppressing weed growth and for attracting beneficial insects into the garden and providing habitat and protection for reptiles, frogs and other animals.
Groundcovers - like all other plants - require light, water and nutrients to grow. Correct plant selection is an important factor not only in terms of plant management, but also in consideration of garden design.
Soil type, aspect and the level of maintenance required to keep plants flourishing are important considerations when selecting groundcovers. Some selections can be very vigorous and will require a heavy hand to keep them contained to their allotted space and others may not fare so well under pedestrian traffic but despite the pitfalls, there is undoubtedly a groundcover that will suite every gardener's taste and situation.
Nurseries have entire sections dedicated to groundcover plants making selection that much easier but there are also other options that can be considered.
Even climbing plants can make excellent groundcovers, but they do require good plant management as they can grow out of control if left unchecked and once they reach a suitable support such as a tree or shrub they will climb.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.