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Discover the Beauty of Designing with Ground Covers

Ever wondered how you could transform your garden into a stunning, low-maintenance haven? The answer might be more straightforward than you think – using Aussie native ground covers.

Ground covers, a diverse group of plants, are an amazing addition to just about any landscape design. This article will guide you through understanding ground covers, choosing the right ones for your garden, and maintaining them effectively.

Native Australian ground cover Purple Fusion™ Scaevola humilis ‘PFS100’ PBR
Native pig faces make excellent ground covers. This one is drought tolerant and can withstand salt sprays on the coast. Aussie Rambler™ Carpobrotus glaucescens ‘CAR10’ PBR.

Understanding Ground Covers

Definition of Ground Covers

Ground covers are plants that grow over an area of ground. They’re low-growing and form a dense mat that covers the earth. These plants come in various shapes and sizes, which we’ll discuss later when we talk about choosing the right ground cover.

Benefits of Using Ground Covers

Using ground covers your garden design extends beyond their aesthetic appeal. For starters, they’re useful soil erosion prevention (read my article about the best soil erosion prevention plants here).

They achieve this by shielding the soil from the effects of rain and wind and holding it together with their roots. They also help suppress weeds by blocking sunlight that would otherwise enable the growth of unwanted plants.

Designing Your Garden with Ground Covers

Evaluating Your Garden Conditions

Before selecting your ground covers, you first need to assess your garden conditions. Consider your soil type—is it sandy, loamy, or clay-dominant? What’s the pH? What types of plants like those conditions?

Then, consider your climate and the amount of sunlight different parts of your garden receive. What’s your local climate like? What level of maintenance are you willing to commit to?

These factors influence the type of ground covers that will thrive in your garden.

Selecting the Right Ground Covers

Once you’ve evaluated your garden conditions, you can begin selecting your ground covers. Consider factors such as growth speed, maintenance needs, and plant health. Different ground covers have different habits. Some are creepers with long, trailing vines, others are strappy plants or low-growing shrubs, while others have mounding habits.

Are you looking for flowering plants? Would you prefer Australian natives? What sort of insects, birds, reptiles, and/or amphibians are you hoping to attract? Your choice should align with your garden conditions and personal aesthetic preferences.

Native Australian flowering ground cover - Gold Cluster™ Grevillea juniperina ‘H22’ PBR
Prostrate grevilleas generally flower in winter when pollinator resources are at their lowest. They attract a wide range of fauna, especially insects and birds. Gold Cluster™ Grevillea juniperina ‘H22’

Incorporating Ground Covers into Your Garden Design

Integrating ground covers into your existing garden design can significantly enhance its appeal. Placement strategies could include using them as borders along paths or driveways, around trees and shrubs, or as a carpet under a canopy of larger plants. Pairing ground covers with other plants can also create stunning contrasts and textures.

Maintaining Your Ground Covers

Basic Care and Maintenance

Caring for your ground covers involves regular watering, fertilising, and occasional pruning. While most ground covers are low-maintenance, they do need some care to stay healthy and attractive.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

Despite your best efforts, you might encounter problems like pests, diseases, or slow growth. Don’t be discouraged; most of these issues can be resolved with the right information and resources.

Native Australian ground cover Purple Fusion™ Scaevola humilis ‘PFS100’ PBR
Choosing a low-fuss ground cover is the best way to avoid plant health problems. Consider Purple Fusion™ Scaevola humilis ‘PFS100’ PBR.

Daniel’s Wrap

Ground covers offer a practical and beautiful solution for garden design. Whether you’re an experienced home gardener or a professional landscape expert, experimenting with different ground covers can yield stunning results.

So why not start exploring the diverse world of ground covers and transform your garden into a breathtaking landscape?

Daniel is a writer and content creator for Ozbreed, one of Australia's leading native and exotic plant breeders.

Daniel has worked in various capacities within the horticulture industry. His roles have ranged from team leader at several companies, to creator of the Plants Grow Here podcast and Hort People job board, as well as his position on the National Council for the Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH).

He's passionate about explaining how to care for different types of plants to ensure home gardeners and professional horticulturists alike can get the most out of the plant babies.

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