Ground cover drought tolerant

1 Grevillea ‘€˜Poorinda Royal Mantle’€™

Grevillea ‘Poorinda Royal Mantle’Grevillea ‘Royal Mantle’ providing bird tuckerGrevillea ‘Poorinda Royal Mantle’

Because it has proven itself for decades for its adaptability and reliability.

2 Scaevola albida ‘€™Mauve Carpet’

Scaevola albida ‘Mauve Carpet’Scaevola albida ‘Mauve Carpet’Scaevola albida ‘Mauve Carpet’

Because of its masses of purple flowers all-year and adaptability.

3 Westringia fruticosa ‘€˜Flat’€˜n’Fruity’

Westringia fruticosa coastal rosemary ‘Flat-n-Fruity’Westringia fruticosa coastal rosemary ‘Flat-n-Fruity’ Westringia fruticosa coastal rosemary ‘Flat-n-Fruity’

Because of its interesting foliage texture, its tough nature and great reliability.

4 Goodenia ovata ‘€˜Gold Cover’

Goodenia ovata ‘Gold Cover’ Goodenia ovata ‘Gold Cover’ Goodenia ovata ‘Gold Cover’

Because of its bright-yellow flowers over most of the year and its reliability.

5 Grevillea ‘Bronze Rambler’

Grevillea ‘Bronze Rambler’ Grevillea ‘Bronze Rambler’

Because of its beautiful dark divided foliage and complementary purple-pink flowers.

6 Melaleuca hypericifolia ‘€˜Ulladulla Beacon’

Melaleuca hypericifolia ‘Ulladulla Beacon’ Melaleuca hypericifolia ‘Ulladulla Beacon’ Melaleuca hypericifolia ‘Ulladulla Beacon’

Because of its beautiful orange-red flower heads and its ability to thrive in all soil types.

7 Hardenbergia violacea

Hardenbergia violaceae ‘Sweetheart’ Hardenbergia violaceae ‘White Out’ Hardenbergia violaceae native wisteria ‘Bushy Blue’

Because of its great ability to be a pioneer plant in hostile conditions and its wonderful flower displays.

8 Brachyscome ‘€˜Pacific Reef’€™ and other ‘Pacific’ varieties

Brachyscome ‘Pacific Reef’ Brachyscome ‘Pacific Tide’ Brachyscome ‘Pacific Sun’

Because of their vibrant colourful flowers over many months and easy care nature.

9 Hibbertia scandens (Climbing Guinea Flower or Snake Vine)

Hibbertia scandens – snake vine Hibbertia scandens – snake vine

Because of its glowing yellow flowers, snake-like stems and ability to thrive near the sea.

10 Adenanthos cuneatus ‘Coral Carpet’ and ‘Flat Out’

Adenanthos cuneatus ‘Coral Carpet’ Adenanthos cuneatus ‘Flat Out’ Adenanthos cuneatus ‘Flat Out’

Because of their unusual foliage colour, shape and texture, and ability to handle dry spells.

About Ground Cover

The general term is given to plants that cover the ground for the benefit of erosion control, temperature and moisture buffering and amenity.

In ornamental horticulture, we think of ground cover as that layer which is under a tree or over a difficult bank but the term has much wider connotations in native pasture.

It’s the herbaceous layer, the low growing vegetation that carpets the planet and is surprisingly diverse.

But let’s stick to the term as it is used in gardening…

Ground covers are the plants that form the lowest layer, an accompaniment to shrubs and trees. Ground covers fill that niche where the other forms don’t.

They spread horizontally like Variegated Star Jasmine or Juniperus horizontalis do or multiply sideways like dwarf Bamboo. Other times, the plant species will be self seeding and produce offspring adjacent but the feature is that the plant is low and spreads.

Ground covers can be used to great effect when placed as a single species under trees where there is no shrub layer. It creates a layered effect that allows vision though to another desired vista. When designed this way it also addresses surveillance and safety concerns.

When you have ground covers you minimise erosion. Rain drops hit the ground with considerable force and etch away at the soil surface, but plants diminish that impact.

Weeds have more difficulty establishing when ground covers prevent light from reaching young weeds.

Of great benefit are ground covers that cascade over steep banks where access is limited.

Grass, vines and herbs may all be classified as ground cover. Find one that suits your position!

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Wednesday – August 08, 2012

From: Tujunga, CA
Region: California
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Groundcovers
Title: Groundcover for clay soil in Southern California
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live in Southern California and have hard packed clay soil in my yard. Could you recommend ground cover that would be green, low to the ground, require little water and survive in clay? I can’t afford heavy watering or would plant a lawn.


Las Pilitas Nursery (with nurseries in Santa Margarita and Escondido, California) has a page with the title “Some of the California native plants that can be used as less than a foot high ground cover”. Here are some suggestions from that page—you can find other possibilities there as well:

Baccharis pilularis (Coyotebrush) is very drought tolerant and Las Pilitas has a Dwarf Coyotebrush (Baccharis pilularis pilularis Pigeon Point) that grows to a foot high.

California Buckwheat plants (there are many) are also a good possibility. They are very drought tolerant and maintain their flowers for long periods. In particular, take a look at Eriogonum fasiculatum polifolium (Interior California Buckwheat) and Eriogonum grande rubescens (Red buckwheat) and you can see photos and more information from San Marcos

Salvia sonomensis Farmar-Bower (Golden creeping sage) grows well in clay.

Artemisia californica Canyon Gray (Trailing sagebrush) is very drought tolerant, grows to 1 foot high and tolerates clay soil.

From the Image Gallery

Baccharis pilularis
Eastern mojave buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium
Creeping sage
Salvia sonomensis
Coastal sagebrush
Artemisia californica

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Landscaping Maintenance Tips: 3 Easygoing Ground Cover Plants

March 2012

An emerald expanse of turf: It’s a key ingredient in the American dream, along with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids. However, many Americans bemoan the landscaping maintenance grass requires. From regular mowing to consistent application of fertilizer, the all-American ground cover is certainly high-maintenance. Michael Pollan has gone so far as to describe his time behind a Toro mower as “Sisyphean.” He also points out that grass receives more pesticide and herbicide per acre than any crop. Finally, our lawns hog precious water. With these turf disadvantages in mind, many people are looking for ways to remove lawn care from their landscape maintenance to-do lists.

Portland, Oregon residents are blessed to live in a zone where many different types of ground covers will happily grow – oftentimes with no fertilizer or pesticide applications. Portland landscape maintenance experts recommend the following species as easy-to-grow lawn substitutes:

1. Blue Star Creeper

Imagine a natural carpet of starry blue blossoms. Add tolerance to traffic and drought, and you have the Blue Star Creeper, a ground cover that stays evergreen in hardiness zone eight. (Hardiness zones are important to keep in mind when planning for long-term landscape maintenance; Portland, Oregon is in zone eight, meaning its lowest lows usually fall between 10 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit.) To stay green all year long, Blue Star Creeper needs some shade during the hottest summer days.

2. New Zealand Brass Buttons

Landscape maintenance gurus adore this New Zealand native because it adds interesting color all year long. In the spring, it blooms with cheerful yellow flowers. Summertime brings unusual gray-green tones, while this plant’s soft fronds turn a beautiful bronze color in the fall. If you use New Zealand Brass Buttons to replace your lawn in Portland, landscape maintenance time will plummet. Two things to know about this low-maintenance ground cover: It dies back in the winter, so it’s not a good choice if you must have year-round greenery. Also, it can spread aggressively, so if that concerns you, be sure to contain it with edging material.

3. Scotch or Irish Moss

Scotch moss features chartreuse foliage, while Irish moss is more evergreen in coloration. Both grow to a height of 3-4 inches, and each plant can spread as much as 10-15 inches! Furthermore, both varieties can be cultivated from cuttings, saving you landscape maintenance money down the road. If you’re looking for a soft, evergreen carpet that can take light foot traffic and prefers light shade during the hottest days, Scotch or Irish moss is perfect for you.

As you select a low-maintenance ground cover to replace your lawn, feel free to mix and match species – remember, the more diversity in your landscape, the fewer problems you’ll have with pests. Finally, to prevent ground covers from taking over, contain them with a barrier of some sort; wood or brick edging usually suffices.

Ground covers are the Persian carpets of the garden, adding a layer of richness underneath it all.

Besides their beauty, ground covers — any plants that grow vigorously to completely cover the soil — offer practical uses: They reduce maintenance by preventing weeds and the work that goes with them.

How to choose

When choosing ground covers, assess the conditions of the area you want to plant:

• Is it sun or shade?

• Is it a naturally moist area or dry?

• Do you intend to water it or go with our natural cycle of wet in the winter and dry in the summer?

Matching the plant to the site conditions will ensure success.

Design plan

When designing the plant layout, consider whether you want a sweep of the same plant or a tapestry effect with a variety of plants. Using more than one type of plant allows you to work with foliage contrast to add pattern to the composition.

Splash color and texture on the ground under trees and shrubs with shade-loving ground covers.

Epimedium is indispensable, a large genus of deciduous and evergreen plants that reach 1 foot or so. Epimedium x perralchicum has evergreen leaves and soft yellow flowers in early spring.

Other cultivars have rose, white or red flowers. When grown in shade or part shade, Epimedium needs little summer water. Grow it successfully in the sun with extra irrigation.

Dwarf periwinkle (Vinca minor) is a rampant grower with dark green leaves, reaching 6 inches tall, in a variety of flower colors. It may overwhelm less vigorous plants, so use it to cover larger areas.

A larger relative, Vinca major, spreads even more readily and can compete with tree roots. To lighten up a dark corner, use the variegated form with white margins on the foliage.

Shady beds are a good place for many Northwest native ground covers, including low Oregon grape (Mahonia nervosa) and Vancouveria. Add contrasting texture with the native deer fern (Blechnum spicant).

If you have a lot of ground to cover, use low shrubs to fill in the gaps between trees or taller shrubs. The dark green needles of spreading yew (Taxus baccata ‘Repandens’) add fine texture. Viburnum davidii, an old standard still worth growing, looks best in the shade, where the strongly ribbed evergreen foliage reaches 3 to 4 feet.

Ground covers become the stars of the show in sunny spots that don’t have an overstory of shade-producing taller plants. Fill a planting strip with low plants to preserve good visibility or create a low border along a walkway or lawn.

One tough ground cover that does well in sun or part shade, creeping Taiwan bramble (Rubus pentalobus), makes a dense evergreen carpet 1 foot high. Beach strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), a Northwest native, sends out runners to form a dense mat of foliage with white flowers and occasional fruit.

For a sunny bank, try heaths and heathers, close relatives. Heaths (Erica species) bloom in winter and spring, while heathers (Calluna species) bloom mid- to late summer. Both need sun and good drainage and some summer water to look their best.

Rockroses (Cistus species) provide large-scale cover for expansive sunny areas.

White rockrose (Cistus x hybridus) blooms in May. The crinkled evergreen leaves cover the plant all winter and provide a dense cover that allows no weeds to grow, and the plant, from the Mediterranean region, needs no summer water once established. White rockrose reaches 3 to 4 feet and spreads 4 to 8 feet.

Combining covers

To create a stunning combination of ground cover plants, choose five or six types and repeat them in small drifts to carry the eye through the composition.

Add grasses for linear texture. Good candidates are blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens), a nonspreading clumping grass with silver leaves, and Carex ‘Ice Dance,’ with variegated dark green and white leaves. ‘Ice Dance’ spreads by underground runners to make an ever-increasing grouping.

For flowers all summer, add to the sunny mix Mexican daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus), which forms 1-foot-tall mounds of bloom. Mix in the round leaves and pink flowers of Geranium x cantabrigiense, a hardy geranium that stays under 1 foot tall. Add blue flowers and fine evergreen texture with Veronica peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue.’

Take the opportunity to survey your garden for bare spaces that can come alive with added texture and color. Fall rains and warm soil will promote root growth and get the plants off to a great start.

Phil Wood has a degree in landscape architecture and designs and builds gardens. Write to him at [email protected] Sorry, no personal replies.

Best Drought Tolerant Ground Covers: Heat Loving Ground Cover Plants For Gardens

Drought is a major concern for gardeners across much of the country. However, it’s very possible to grow a gorgeous, water-wise garden. You can find drought tolerant plants for nearly any situation, including heat-loving ground cover plants and ground covers that withstand drought. Read on for tips and information about a few of the best drought tolerant ground covers.

Selecting the Best Drought Tolerant Ground Covers

The best drought tolerant ground covers share several common characteristics. For example, drought-tolerant plants often have small or narrow leaves with a smaller surface area and reduced moisture loss. Similarly, plants with leaves that are waxy, curled or deeply veined retain moisture. Many drought tolerant plants are covered with fine grey or white hairs, which help the plant reflect heat.

Drought Tolerant Ground Covers for Shade

Keep in mind that even shade-loving plants need some sun. Usually, these tough plants do well in broken or filtered sunlight, or early morning sunlight. Here are some good choices for dry, shady areas:

  • Periwinkle/creeping myrtle (Vinca minor) – shiny green leaves covered with tiny, star-shaped indigo flowers in spring. USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 9.
  • Creeping mahonia/Oregon grape (Mahonia repens) – evergreen leaves with fragrant yellow flowers that appear in late spring. Blooms are followed by clusters of attractive, purple berries. Zones 5 through 9.
  • Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) – soft green leaves and carpets of small white flowers in late spring and early summer. Zones 4 through 8.
  • Creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) – small, dense leaves covered by mounds of blooms in lavender, rose, red or white. Zones 3 through 9.

Drought Tolerant Ground Covers for Sun

Popular sun-loving ground covers that tolerate drought include:

  • Rockrose (Cistus spp.) – lush, gray-green foliage and colorful blooms of various shades of pink, purple, white and rose. Zones 8 through 11.
  • Snow in summer (Cerastium tomentosum) – silvery-grey foliage and tiny white blooms that appear in late spring and last through early summer. Zones 3 through 7.
  • Moss phlox (Phlox subulata) – narrow leaves and masses of purple, pink or white flowers that last all spring. Zones 2 through 9.
  • Winecups (Callirhoe involucrata) – deeply cut leaves with bright magenta blooms that resemble tiny hibiscus flowers. Zones through 11.

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