Extension Viewpoints: Ground covers: a great addition to gardens and landscapes

By Robin Young
PREVIEW Columnist

Ground covers are a great addition to gardens and landscapes. When properly selected and planted, they provide visual interest (often in hard-to-grow areas), inhibit weeds, and reduce water needs by shading the underlying soil. Like all plants, they have specific needs in terms of sun, water and soil, and thrive when grown in appropriate areas.

Here are a few plants that tolerate both sun and shade: 

Creeping Oregon grape (mahonia repens) — A native growing along popular trails, this plant’s holly-shaped leaves turn various shades of red. Early bright yellow flowers are followed by blue berries. It can grow beside and under shrubs.

Common periwinkle (vinca minor) — Shiny green leaves appear as the snow melts, followed by small purple flowers. Occasional watering prevents wilting where it grows in sunnier areas.

Candytuft (iberis sempervirens) — This early-blooming plant produces early white blooms and summer-long green and somewhat woody foliage.

Dragon’s blood sedum (sedum spurium “Dragon’s Blood”) — With green succulent leaves and a late-blooming flower, this plant can spread beautifully between rocks and into bare spots.

Pussytoes (antennaria dioica) — This native plant is mat-forming and produces tiny pink flowers in spring. The foliage is a distinctive silver-blue color.

Some ground covers that may be too aggressive include the following:

Bugleweed (ajuga reptans) — This plant can out-compete grass; not recommended to plant near lawns or other grassy areas. Control can be challenging.

Creeping potentilla (potentilla neumanniana) — This plant can co-mingle with other plants and can spread in a weed-like fashion.

Snow on the mountain (aegopodium podagraria) — This is a shade-loving plant, but grows fast and can be invasive. It does not like sun and will wilt.

Archuleta County Fair

The Archuleta County Fair will host the 4-H livestock shows and general projects only this year and limit participation to 4-H youth and their immediate families. The livestock auction will be virtual. Please check back for more details to learn how to participate.

Donate to the Archuleta County 4-H program

The Archuleta County 4-H program boasts a membership of more than 150 members annually. Often, these programs rely on fundraisers to help offset the costs of the program, such awards, supplies and, most importantly, leadership opportunities. Members can attend various leadership camps and conferences statewide and even nationally. To help our program continue to support our members, we appreciate any contribution you make. To pay online, visit https://client.pointandpay.net/web/ArchuletaCo4H/ and select Contributions and Donations.

This story was posted on July 12, 2020.