Cottoneasters, periwinkle, dwarf bamboo and even helexin for example have one thing in common. These plant covers, somewhat forgotten since the 90s in favor of mineral mulch, are back in fashion and out of the shade - well, sometimes! Used in communities and more and more in private gardens, ground covers (or ground covers) are as numerous as they are varied and hide multiple qualities. Rustic and vigorous, simple to cultivate, they can measure from 2.5 cm to 1.50 m in height, offer green or flowered and colorful vegetation, protect the soil against erosion ... Praise of these invasive creeping plants (without excess ), aesthetic and practical - when used properly!
Ground covers grow everywhere ... even in the shade
We often see them on the edges of highways in full sun (ibéris, periwinkle, sedums, landscaped roses, St. John's wort ...) or in town (Lyon is for example a pioneer in the association of ground cover and grasses in its landscaping ), but it is less known that many species are adapted ... in the shade - and that is also where their interest lies. In courtyards or small city gardens often deprived of light, they live as in their natural environment in the undergrowth. Then favor helexine, ivy, lamium, hosta, David's viburnum (Viburnum davidii) ... Their sometimes shiny foliage can even bring a light effect in dark corners.
Ground cover plants, an increasingly popular alternative to turf
Ground cover is also most often used as a substitute for traditional lawn, and appeals to gardeners who avoid the drudgery of weeding, mowing and regular maintenance. Their natural covering power prevents the appearance of weeds, on small and medium-sized areas to be revegetated, under trees or in places difficult to access. Better, they avoid trampling and aerate the earth while reducing its evaporation - and therefore bring freshness to the garden. They also require less water than most lawns because they are well rooted if they are suitable for the type of soil and local climate. And unlike the lawn, they give volume to the garden. Specialists therefore advise to reserve the lawn for large areas, and to favor these ornamental covering plants near trees and hedges, for their ornamental aspect.
Ground cover plants, a decorative asset
Floor coverings have another essential asset for gardeners: their aesthetics. They avoid the view of the raw earth and occupy the space by creating a carpet of moss, foliage or flowers. They are perfect for filling the gaps between the slabs (then opt for a helexine, a sagine or a Mazus reptans), to unify the massifs, to create a welcoming atmosphere in an alley! Depending on the varieties chosen, they can be used to create several layers of vegetation in a garden. Their wide range of colors and textures offer countless possibilities for highlighting taller flowers, and they can be flowery, green, voluminous or more discreet, from different greens to bright yellows or tender pinks. The landscaper Robin Ramousset (Cardinal Jardin), for example, proposes to stage them by creating a graphic design using edgings, to plant them in waves for example ... Or even to marry bamboos with decorative elements in s' fun with different heights…
Floor coverings: patience and vigilance!
Annual or perennial, the ground covers can be temporary or permanent, and are of course chosen according to the type of soil, the exposure of your land and the agro-climatic conditions of your region. Before planting them, it is important to properly weed the space intended for them and to work the soil well to optimize their growth. This then limits the supply of fertilizers and water: therefore make an amendment (decomposed manure or compost) to make the soil fertile. And water retention will also be improved. Once in the ground, their growth will be slow (around 3 to 4 years to reach their adult size), but in return, they will be sustainable ... and will even tend to invade any free space (some like ivy can also climb trees! ); so remember to limit them by surrounding their space, and to play the conductor. Pro tip: when buying, look at what size the plant will grow to maturity, and anticipate ... by being patient. Finally, if they require little maintenance, the ground covers still need occasional pruning (to avoid engulfing neighboring plants), and regular watering.
Ground cover plants: the "trendy" varieties in 2013
Ivies, cotoneasters, lavender and red landscaped roses are great classics, still in use. Today, however, the trend is more towards perennial geraniums, dwarf bamboo, mosses and relatives such as lichens and helexin, or even sedums. Also think about the erigerons, the Stephanandra, the perennial St. John's wort, the benoite, the bugloss, the Teucrium fruticans, the forsythia cover, the summer or winter heather ... And near the house, favor the condiment, aromatic and medicinal plants which are often good and practical ground cover, such as thyme thyme, mint, sage, chamomile, rosemary creeper, jasmine, savory…
Ground cover plants: make room for the living!
Unlike mineral mulch, these ground covers are alive and attract a whole wildlife, thus encouraging biodiversity in the garden by feeding for example predatory insects, amphibians and birds. Landscapers encourage them to use them because they are too often overlooked.
To read : -Ground cover plants , Barbara W. Ellis, Ulmer editions -Ground covers , David S. Mackenzie, Rouergue editions -Ecological guide to turf and flowering lawns , Elisabeth & Jérôme Jullien, Eyrolles and Sang de la terre editions -Ecological guide to shrubs , Elisabeth & Jérôme Jullien, Eyrolles and Sang de la terre editions Thanks : - Fernanda Voulgaropoulos, landscaper, www.lesdoigtsfleuris.com - Serge Lepage, from the Astredhor Technical Horticultural Institute, www.asthredor.fr - Robin Ramousset, www.cardinaljardin.com - Jérôme Jullien, agro-environmental engineer and phytosanitary expert Our practical gardening videos