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Plant Types : Ground Cover

Bare soil is always colonised by plants, principally wild plants because the seeds are likely to be already present in the soil. It is essential to cover bare soil with desirable plants and reduce the chances of wild plants – weeds – getting established.

Although the term ‘ground-cover’ is usually taken to mean low-growing, ground-hugging plants, every garden plant provides ground cover. For example, practically nothing will grow underneath evergreen oak, lawson cypress or yew.

A couple of layers of cover gives best weed-suppressing results. For example, a tree layer over shrubs such as snowberry, dwarf laurel, Viburnum davidii, hydrangea, mahonia, skimmia, berberis, pernettya, Euonymus radicans and japanese azaleas; or a layer of tall shrubs with suitable shade-tolerant herbaceous perennials beneath.

The best ground cover plants tend to be good ground colonisers. Some shrubs are excellent colonisers, covering the ground closely, rooting as they spread and shade-tolerant – green ivy, vinca, hypericum, Rubus tricolor, pachysandra, Lonicera pileata, and Cotoneaster dammerii.

There are many good ground-cover perennial flowers. They include hardy geraniums, bergenias, london pride, epimedium, lysimachia(as shown), lamium, brunnera, tiarella, symphytum, lungwort, Euphorbia robbiae and ajuga. These are vigorous ground-cover plants that compete strongly against germinating weeds and tolerate shade as well.

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