Groundcovers are low-growing plants that form a sod as they develop in a horizontal direction. Some varieties are evergreen and some are even reasonably tolerant of being walked on. An advantage of using groundcovers is that their closely-knit carpet of leaves gives weeds down.In the garden, groundcovers become a green carpet providing a feeling of serenity (similar to a lawn) but yet do not require frequent maintenance.
For these reasons, groundcovers are often used over large planting surfaces, as an underplanting beneath solitary plants, as underplanting for locations that are difficult to reach, as a maintenance-friendly solution for the garden, etc. In the Netherlands, groundcovers are produced for two markets: the market for public green spaces and for the consumer market.
Public green spacesGroundcovers are perfect for use in public green spaces. In urban areas, the most space devoted to green zones is often found along roads and streets and on squares. These locations are also precisely the ones where views must remain open for purposes of traffic and road safety – no tall plantings here. Groundcovers, whether woody or herbaceous, generally demand little from their planting location. Many kinds are satisfied with an average soil and can thrive in shade as well as partial shade. Others prefer full sun. At locations where traffic cannot be obstructed by taller plantings, groundcovers are the perfect solution, possibly in combination with one or more solitary plants to provide a vertical effect or an accent.
Groundcovers are also an excellent choice for slopes. Good examples are the banks below a sound barrier, along an access ramp, or even next to a body of water.
To simplify the use of groundcovers, particularly in public green spaces, a concept has been developed in the Netherlands in which groundcovers can be installed as a kind of turf. The product used for this consists of a coir mat (sometimes with a substrate) on which the plants are grown. These mats can then be laid directly on top of the subsoil - a method that produces a green effect within a very short time.
MaintenanceGroundcovers are usually fairly easy to maintain. Applying some compost or fertilisers among groundcover plants in the spring will produce plants that grow and flower even more profusely. Regularly removing faded flowers can extend the flowering period, and certain kinds such as Alchemilla and Geranium can even provide a second flowering. Species with creeping rhizomes will have to be watched closely because they can tend to be invasive.
Groundcovers can be classified as follows:Evergreen:
Perennials (non-woody plants that spread by means of root suckers)
Shrubs (woody plants that become fuller and thicker every year)
Conifers (some conifers have a creeping habit and can thus be used as groundcovers)
Perennials (aerial parts die back entirely and emerge again in the spring)
Shrubs (lose their leaves in the autumn but their branch structure remains visible through the winter)
The number of different groundcovers available is huge. Here is a brief listing of the most commonly used varieties.