My Everchanging Garden

Gardening That Grows With Me

A Carpet Of Groundcover

The focus of my landscaping over the past few years has been to develop most of the garden structure and fill in the beds with the bones and highlights. That has meant that most of my planting activities have been around trees, shrubs and some perennials for colour. In the back of my mind has been the idea to fill in the base underneath all of my plantings with solid ground cover. I’d like to increase the use of groundcover in my gardens to help transition between garden beds but also to help reduce the amount of mulching I need to do each year to help with weed control.

Geranium macrorrhizum

Some of the groundcovers I already have in my garden include:

  • Geranium macrorrhizum (Bigroot Geranium) pictured above
  • Ajuga reptans – purple leaved variety in small doses as I find it can suffer from winter kill
  • Asarum canadense – Canadian Wild Ginger – small planting just establishing
  • Galium odoratum – Sweet Woodruff – in woodland garden carefully controlled
  • Lysimachia nummularia – Golden Creeping Jenny – in ornamental gardens again carefully controlled
  • Rhus aromatica – Gro Lo Sumac
  • Pachysandra terminalis – Japanese Spurge – in ornamental gardens
  • Bergenia
  • Podophyllum peltatum – in woodland although it does go dormant in some areas
  • Heuchera – several varieties

Mostly I’m looking for low growing groundcovers that will survive a zone 5 winter and deer. While I have lots of room for large spreaders, I don’t want anything too aggressive that I can’t control it (aka Bishop’s Weed!). If you have any suggestions I love to hear them. Shade or sun, doesn’t matter, I have plenty of room for both.


  1. Laurrie on

    I have geranium wlassovianum rather than the bigleaf geranium, and it’s a wonderful groundcover with brilliant fall color.

    Another great groundcover for me is kinnikinnik, hardy to zone 3 I think! You can see mine here:

    I have just added the Gro Lo Sumac around the base of my birch trees. I saw a beautiful glossy, shiny stand of it at Arnold Arboretum in Boston: lovely.

    Have you thought of ‘Angelia’ sedum… spreads beautifully but not aggressively and has nice spring chartreuse color, rusty red fall color, and stays very low, like a carpet. And speaking of carpets, how about creeping thyme?

    • everchanging gardener on

      Thanks Laurrie

      The Kinnikinnik looks great and I agree with your blog it’s name is fun to say! Our soil is not very acidic here but I do have some dry areas that were heavily mulched with cedar mulch. I may try a couple and see how they do. I also loved the flower on the geranium wlassovianum. It would make a nice addition. If you check back in can you tell me if it spreads by underground runners or is it clumping sending out masses of foliage that you need to cut back (like Geranium ‘Rozanne’)?

      A suggestion on your new Gro Lo Sumac. I found that cutting them back is needed to make them more dense. I did not do that, letting them grow naturally and found they were a bit leggy last year (year 3). I plan on cutting them back by 1/2 this spring and letting them branch further then monitoring from there.

      Thanks again for the ideas — I can’t wait for spring to get started.

  2. Laurrie on

    Geranium wlassovianum is a clumper and the foliage does need to be cut back for rebloom and for tidiness.

    Good to know about chopping the low sumacs back! I do want to encourage dense branching and a full look. My plants are still quite small, just a couple branches and a few leaves at this stage, but I’ll want to encourage them to grow densely.


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