Do you have bare spots in your yard where grass won’t grow? Under a large tree that is too shady for grass? A slope or steep area? If you’ve answered “YES!” to any of these questions, you may need a groundcover to solve your issue.
What is a groundcover? The definitive answer would be “Any one of a group of low-lying plants with a creeping, spreading habit that are used to cover sections of ground with minimal maintenance.”
Groundcovers can be used in so many ways:
- mass plantings in your actual landscape,
- adding color to a rock garden,
- use in skinny walkway beds,
- introducing new colors and textures to your garden beds,
- erosion area
Also known as ‘Bugleweed’
This evergreen perennial (stays green all year) has a ground-hugging habit of growth. Ajuga sends up beautiful electric blue blooms that rise above its foliage from mid to late spring. It attracts butterflies but not deer. Ajuga loves to spread, plant in part-shade, and watch her thrive!
Also known as ‘Maleberry’
Japanese Ardisia shows off a rich, green color and dainty clusters of pink star-shaped flowers at the ends of its branches during spring, and red berries in mid fall. This multi-stemmed evergreen shrub is perfect for areas that are shaded, moist and cool. Reaching a spread of 3 feet, this part-shade to full shade lover makes for an excellent groundcover (and an excellent houseplant!).
Also known as ‘Carex’
Sedge is a vigorous, mound-forming evergreen with striking, grassy foliage. The gracefully arching stems of this plant bring a fine and delicate addition to any garden. This groundcover is relatively low-maintenance, and does well in partial shade or full shade, and spreads up to 16 inches. Many native varieties of Sedge cultivar are right here among us in East Texas! Sedge makes a great border edging, mass planting, and also works well in mixed containers.
Also known as ‘Heuchera’
Coral Bells is an evergreen perennial with tall flower stalks held atop a low mound of foliage. These tiny, delicate flowers come in as many colors as its foliage does, from lime green to purple! This low-growing plant is relatively low-maintenance and a good choice for attracting butterflies. Coral Bells are perfect for containers, mass plantings, borders and rock gardens. This evergreen can take full sun or full shade and can spread up to 18 inches.
Showing out in a rich, emerald color, Pachysandra is an evergreen that looks amazing year-round. Spreading up to 1 ½ feet at maturity, this perennial does best in part shade to morning sun. The bold, dark green leaves make for a fantastic groundcover, or border for walkways. Small, bright white flowers appear in early spring – though not particularly showy, the flowers offer an ornate addition against the green background.
‘Blue Rug’ Juniper
This ground-hugging Juniper features silvery-blue foliage that takes on a nearly purple tinge during winter and produces blue berries from late spring to late winter. A dense, multi-stemmed evergreen, ‘Blue Rug’ Juniper is extremely adaptable and hardy – making for a great groundcover or border, or even trailing over walls. A lover of full sun to part shade, this Juniper can reach a spread of up to 7 feet!
Also known as ‘Moss Phlox’
Creeping Phlox puts on a show of bright, cherry red, blue or white star-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems from early to late spring. It’s tiny, needle-like leaves remain green in color throughout the year. This evergreen blanket of flowers does best in full sun to part-shade, which makes it perfect for border edging, mass planting or general ground cover. At maturity, Creeping Phlox can spread up to 18 inches.
Ground cover sedums are a form of succulents that are winter hardy and stay green throughout the year. These are heat loving plants that grow well in full sun or partial sun and are drought tolerant! They come in a variety of colors, some have variegated leaves and bloom in late Summer through Fall. Use in rock gardens, as ground cover in landscape beds, as spillers in containers or in hanging baskets.
Also known as ‘Ice Plant’
This is a multi-purpose plant with succulent type foliage. It blooms in bright colors from Spring through Fall, stays green throughout the winter, loves full sun and heat but will also perform in partial sun. Good for rock gardens, a spiller in containers, and in hanging baskets.
Standard Mondo Grass
This old standby is an evergreen perennial with grass like stems and small purple flower spikes which bloom throughout the Spring and Summer. It is slow growing and spreads through runners. It can be easily divided and moved to other areas and requires minimal care once established. Mass plantings are striking – giving the appearance of a deep green lawn. Plant in shade or part shade.
This woody stemmed favorite grows well in a variety of soils and conditions. It is a great erosion control on slopes and on the side of creeks or ditches. It can be cut with a weedeater or even with a mower set on the highest setting if it becomes too tall for the area. Plant in partial sun to full sun.
Another shade loving groundcover which keeps its dark green color year-round. This plant runs along the ground and sets roots along the stem. It can become invasive and grow up into trees if not contained.
Evergreen flowering herb that is covered with a blanket of pink-purple blossoms in the Spring. It can handle some light foot traffic and reaches a height of 3”. Grows in full sun to partial shade.
That Landscapers HATE to Fix
While more MAY be better in some cases, it’s not better to have more in your landscape. Not spacing out your plants and over-filling them may offer instant gratification for the first year your new plants are in the ground, but in two years, your plants will begin to die because they’re fighting for space and nutrients. This common mistake is a HUGE WASTE of time and money.
HINT: Fill in empty spots with annual flowers until your shrubs mature!
Not Knowing Your Landscape’s Needs
You’ll want to have an idea of what your yard requires and then choose plants that fit those requirements. How much direct sunlight does your yard get daily? Is your soil clay-based, sandy, or rocky? Are there any water restrictions? Are there drainage issues? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you make the best choices for your landscape. There is NO REASON not to research and learn more about the plants you are putting in your landscape. Planting shade plants in sun, or sun plants in shade is an inexcusable snafu in any landscape.
Starting Without A Plan
Don’t go to a Garden Center with a “my heart will guide me” mentality. This will lead to over purchasing and a major loss of money. You’ll also run into issues during your landscape install that could’ve been solved by planning ahead.
Not Paying Attention To The Style Of Your House
Your landscape should complement your home and increase your curb appeal! Different landscape styles work better aesthetically, so always use the look and structure of your house when deciding on garden bed shapes (i.e. A farmhouse-style home won’t work with a formal landscape). Unsure where to start?
HINT: Use a garden hose to help aid in the process of figuring out the shape of each bed; lay out the hose on the ground and use it as your guide, it’s soft and can follow the curves of your house, leading to perfect garden bed shapes.
Planting Too Close To Your Home
When planting, you must bear in mind that bushes, trees and plants WILL get bigger! Where you plant them is SO important – typically, leaving a minimum of 1-3 feet between your plants and your house. Ignoring how large a tree or bush will get can lead to walkway, sidewalk and foundation damage – or, even worse, it can rot your siding, allowing moisture and bugs to creep into your home. Not cool.
Relying On Pinterest To Do Your Landscape
It is SO EASY to get excited and jump into a project when you scroll through Pinterest. HOWEVER, you need to keep in mind the time, resources, and money that go into the ‘simple’ photos you see online. While it can be helpful for ideas, you have to get real about where you and your yard are located zone-wise and how much the project will cost overall.
Mint, or mentha, is grown practically everywhere in the world; therefore, it makes appearances in almost every cuisine. This versatile culinary herb is delicious both dried and fresh.
So, why do people hate growing mint? Bring up the topic of mint with many a gardener, and you’ll be greeted with a resounding, “Don’t plant mint! It will take over your yard!” With thoughtful preparation and placement, however, mint can be a wonderful and containable addition to your culinary garden.
Perennial or Annual?
Mint is a hardy perennial that is one of the first to arrive each spring. It also retains its potency of flavor over the years.
How to Plant Mint
- Where: Mint performs its best in full sun if the soil is kept moist, but it also thrives in partial shade. Mint is considered an invasive plant, since it sends out “runners” and spreads vigorously. Don’t let that fact deter you from enjoying fresh mint in your garden. Opt to grow mint in containers or, if you want to plant mint in the ground, submerge it in a large container and leave about two inches of the rim exposed above the soil to prevent spreading.
- When: Plant mint at any time. Mint is sturdy and resilient. Don’t waste your time starting mint from seed.
How to Cultivate Mint
- Soil: Mint thrives in moist, rich soil. To keep the soil moist, cover the soil with a little mulch.
- Sun: Mint can grow in sun or part shade. If you are planting mint indoors, where it also performs well, make sure you place your container near a sunny window.
- Water: Regular watering is really the only maintenance mint needs. Always keep the soil moist.
How to Harvest Mint
Mint is another herb that is easy to harvest, and can be harvested at any time. In fact, regular harvesting is encouraged, in order to prevent legginess. You may opt to harvest most of the plant at once, clipping away up to 2/3 of the length of the stems, or you may clip away only what you need.
Use these tips and you’ll be feeling MINTY-FRESH!
Bat guano, or dung, has a long history of use as a soil enricher. It is obtained from only fruit and insect-feeding species of bats. Bat guano makes an excellent fertilizer; it’s fast-acting, has little odor, and can be worked into the soil prior to planting or during active growth.
What Do They Use Bat Guano For?
There are several uses for bat guano. It can be used as a soil conditioner, enriching the soil and improving drainage and texture, and a suitable fertilizer for plants and lawns, making them healthy and green. It can be used as a natural fungicide and controls nematodes in the soil as well. In addition, bat guano makes an acceptable compost activator, speeding up the decomposition process. With so many uses, why would you not use bat guano?!
How to Use Bat Guano as a Fertilizer
As a fertilizer, bat guano can be used as top dressing or worked into the soil and can be use fresh or dried. Typically, this fertilizer is applied in smaller quantities than other types of manure.
Bat guano provides a high concentration of nutrients to plants and the surrounding soil. According to the NPK of bat guano, its concentration ingredients are 10-3-1. This NPK fertilizer analysis translates to 10 percent nitrogen (N), 3 percent phosphorus (P), and 1 percent potassium or potash (K). The higher nitrogen levels are responsible for fast, green growth. Phosphorus aids with root and flower development while potassium provides for the plant’s overall health.
Note: You may also find bat guano with higher phosphorus ratios, such as 3-10-1. Why? Some types are processed this way. It’s also believed that the diet of some bat species may have an effect. For example, those feeding strictly on insects produce higher nitrogen content, whereas fruit-eating bats result in a high phosphorus guano.
We all know the joy of plants can come at a price, whether it be a plant disease, fungus, or pest. We love growing and caring for our vegetables, shrubs and indoor houseplants, but one snail can ruin a plant in a very short span of time. If you’re not sure if you have a snail problem, or how to fix it, you’re in the right place.
With snails, most of the damage happens at night, when they emerge to feed. They prefer clipping tender, young shoots, but may chew irregular holes through leaves and flowers or feed on soft fruits and the bark of young plants. As they move around, snails leave a slimy trail that dries to a silvery film by morning.
Control of snails is a major problem in all habitats. There are many things that can be done to reduce the potential of a problem occurring. Eliminate (as much as you can), items that are sitting on the ground (as they are possible resting places for these slimy pests) such as boards, boxes, stones, debris, weeds, plants in pots that have runners on the ground or any other items that provide shelter. Reducing hiding places decreases snail survival.
A few options are available to kill the snails. You can treat for snails organically with Diatomaceous Earth or you can also rid yourself of snails chemically. Using a dust or solution that contains spinosad + iron phosphate can lure snails from their hiding spots. Bonide Slug & Bug Killer contains both of these chemicals AND prevents those disgusting slime trails! Just spread the pellets around your garden, landscape, or in your indoor plants and start to enjoy your greenery again!
We hear this question daily. All plants – annuals, shrubs, perennials and trees need proper nutrients to grow, stay healthy and look good. But there are so many fertilizer choices it is easy to be discouraged and end up choosing the easy route – a slow-release fertilizer. Apply it once and be done with fertilizing for the season.
Sounds easy, right? While great for many plants (shrubs) it is not the best for your annuals and hanging baskets. They need more than a slow-release fertilizer can give them. They are best fed with a water-soluble fertilizer.
Water soluble fertilizers are fertilizers that can be dissolved in water and makes it is easy to control the precise amount of nutrients available to your plants. Soluble fertilizers usually have N-P-K numbers listed on their label. The N is for nitrogen, the P is for phosphorus and the K is for potassium or potash.
Of the 16 (12 of which are contained in water soluble fertilizers) known elements necessary for plant life, N-P-K, are the three that are of the most importance and always listed on water soluble fertilizers, in that order.
- Nitrogen is the most important of the nutrients and is essential to the production of chlorophyll and is responsible for leaf growth, as well as, overall size of the plant.
- Phosphorus is necessary for photosynthesis and provides for energy transfer within the plant and is associated with the fruiting or flowering stages of growth.
- Potassium, or potash, increases chlorophyll levels, helps plants make better use of light and air and increases growth by cell division.
The ultimate goal of fertilizing is to supply your plant with the right amount of nutrients. Applying a water soluble fertilizer to the annuals and perennials both in the ground and in containers every 7 to 14 days can make a remarkable difference.
Ultimately, your plants will only be as great as the care they receive, and while understanding the best fertilizer for the job may take a little bit of work, the rewards of healthier, longer-lasting plants is the pay off.