The Problem Solvers - Great groundcovers for challenging spots

  • Written by Cindy Tyler, CPH, Molbak’s
Upon visiting the nursery you’ll see lots of groundcover options, but which is the best solution for your particular spot? To get you started, we’ve narrowed it down to three groundcover personalities:

“The Control Freaks” – for weed suppression

Kinnickinnick is a colorful and effective weed suppressor.
Weeds love an open patch of soil in which to settle down and raise a family. By filling in with evergreen groundcovers you can, in time, nearly eliminate them. Initially you’ll need to weed and water the area, but once the plants knit-together and cover the soil, weeds will eventually give up. Some of our favorites include:

• “Vancouver Jade” Kinnickinnick – grows quickly to 4” high and 6’ wide. Produces white to pink bell-shaped flowers that mature to bright red berries. Foliage turns bronzy in fall. (SUN-PART SUN)

• Variegated Pachysandra – spreads by underground runners. Cream-tipped foliage stands out in lower light areas. Grows well around tree roots. (PART SHADE-SHADE)

• Emerald ‘N’ Gold Winter Creeper – grows 1-2’ tall and 3’+ feet wide. A variegated evergreen that spreads by rooting along the stems. Leaves turn pinkish-red in fall and winter. (SUN-PART SHADE)

“The Hillside Huggers” – for erosion control

Groundcover Cotoneaster is a great choice to help stop soil erosion.
When Mother Nature turns on the waterworks, heavy rains can wash away valuable soil and landscaping. Leafy plants help disperse rain drops before they come in contact with the soil, thereby minimizing erosion, while the roots hold onto the soil and help stabilize it. Some of our favorites include:

•“Massachusetts” Kinnickinnick – grows quickly to 4” high and 12’ wide. Produces white to pink bell-shaped flowers that mature to bright red berries. (SUN-PART SUN)

• Bearberry Cotoneaster – grows quickly to 8” high and 10’ wide. Branches root along the stems allowing the plant to hold tight to sloping soils. (SUN-PART SUN)

• Salal –  grows 1-3’ high in sun, taller in shade. A tough native that makes a taller groundcover. White to pink flowers maturing to blue-black berries mix with leathery leaves on this useful broadleaf evergreen. (SUN-SHADE)

“The In-betweeners” – for fillers

Want to dress up your stepping stone path with some cushiony filler plants? There are many short and sweet groundcovers you can tuck between pavers. Some of our favorites include:

• White Star Creeper – grows 2-3” tall and spreads quickly by rooting along its stems. Creates a carpet of charming, white flowers, spring through summer. (PART SUN-SHADE)

• Woolly Thyme – forms a low, 1-2” tall mat of sage-green, fuzzy foliage that’s worthy of petting. Clip back in spring to rejuvenate. (SUN)

• Green Carpet – forms a ground-hugging mat to 1” tall that is green in warmer months, and turns bronze in winter. Spreads by rooting along its stems. (SUN-SHADE)

Get more information on groundcovers by speaking with Molbak’s plant experts. They can guide you to the appropriate plant choice for your specific area, and advise you on the planting and care of your groundcovers.

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