Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Covering Ground

The ground covers around My Garden Path have really filled in this year.  I love having less area to weed and water.  My favorite ground covers are very drought tolerant and have done well with no supplemental watering.

Portulaca is an annual that reseeds and shows up each spring in the sunny area of the garden.  It spreads all summer and blooms non-stop.  My daughter had some reseed in her garden that came up a different color than she had originally planted.  I can't tell if that has happened here because I have every color of the rainbow planted.

The perennial peanut at the top of the picture is not showing off its cute yellow flowers.  They are there but the camera didn't pick them up for some reason.  This ground cover is very drought tolerant and grows very thick like a lawn.  So far, the grandkids run on it and play and it holds up just fine.  It does go brown in winter after a frost but it greens right back up as soon as the weather begins to warm.

Speaking of cute flowers, these fuzzy cattails belong to the dwarf chenille I have planted where the shady area begins.  It does not hold up to foot traffic but it stayed green through the winter and it is quite drought tolerant now that it is established.  

Sunshine mimosa is another pink fuzzy flower that the grandkids love to "pet."  The leaves curl closed when touched giving this ground cover the nickname "sensitive plant."  It disappears in winter and comes back when the rain and warm weather return.  

Well, maybe I can have it all in a ground cover.  This dwarf mondo grass is cold hardy, drought tolerant and holds up to foot traffic.  It doesn't like the full-on afternoon sun though.  It much prefers partial to full shade.  

Ground covers are really appreciated around the Path especially in those areas where oak tree roots make it hard to plant anything with deep roots.  They provide erosion control for the sloping backyard and they give some delineation to the jungle of plants they surround.  

Do you like to use low growing ground covers in your garden?  If so, what are some of your favorites?


  1. I've heard of Portulaca (it disappeared in my old eyesore area) and mondo grass, but I haven't heard of your others. I get mimosa - or a non-blooming plant that looks like mimosa - but to me it's a weed that can get 3' tall (or taller) and I pull them. Hopefully, long before they get to 3'. I've never seen those gorgeous flowers. How can dwarf chenille and perennial peanut not be in our nurseries here? Of course, I've been staying away from nurseries for several weeks. Maybe I should visit them again. Great post, Kay.

  2. Your portulaca is awesome. Yours looks like it grows higher than any I have ever had. Would love to get the perennial peanut and replace some of the grass with it.

    ♥ all your ground covers. Hope you are having a great summer. The last couple of days have really been wet one...close to 5" of rain here.

  3. Wow, you use those groundcovers very well. (Especially love the way they're used in your header photo.) I have long wanted to replace all of my grass with groundcovers of varying sorts, organized in patchy sweeps like you have done. Can't get DH on board! He is really behind the times!

    I do grow the Aztec grass and Asiatic jasmine as groundcovers. The Asiatic jasmine is especially slow at filling in. Both groundcovers seem to become choked with weeds from time to time, causing a lot of backbreaking work, and making me appreciate that thick St. Augustine lawn all the more.

    Don't know if it counts as groundcovers, but I also use the likes of impatiens, caladiums, and bromelaids.

    Many years ago, in a different place, I had Portulaca escape from a pot by the *front* door and spread all over the *back* yard. Don't know how that happened. Hmmm... Also had dwarf chenille escape in one of my old gardens. It tried to overtake the St. Augustine lawn. Drove me nuts! My mother has allowed it to take over the lawn underneath one of her old oaks. The grass was thin and dying there anyway. It is quite pretty.

    I like the monkey grass as well. It always has a beautiful green effect that looks very lawn-like.

    Now, as for perennial peanut and mimosa...I've been watching those in commercial landscapes the last few years. They do look beautiful, especially the perennial peanut and its yellow blooms. I have not been impressed with their winter performance, though. Do the weeds overtake the spot during winter? How long have you had yours? Did you grow them from individual plants or the "sod pieces" I've heard about but never seen? If you got them as individual plants, did they fill in quickly?

    Oh, sorry to bombard you with so many questions. I am very interested in someday replacing all of my grass with groundcovers. I'll probably do it in a very sneaky patch at a DH won't notice. Hey, the south side is almost completely grass-free already.

  4. My perennial peanut never looked like yours, I've been yanking it up. I have sensitive plant and it's a thug, needs an area all it's own. I want to know more about the cattails, I love that!

  5. sherryocala - I don't think the mimosa-like plant you get is the same as I have. Mine stays very low and has lots of flowers in summer. The peanut and the dwarf chenille are carried by a wonderful nursery I have close by, but I have seen the peanut at Home Depot usually in the spring.

    SiestaSister - I'm down to just a small area of weedy grass in the backyard. I am taking the edgings from the peanut I have established and am s-l-o-w-l-y sprigging the edges and I hope to be able to get some plants to do the whole thing this coming spring/summer.

    Floridagirl - I love my peanut patch and have not had trouble with weeds once it grew in. It is very thick. I started with plants that were the size of the annuals that are one size up from the cell-packs. I let an area about 10X10 fill in from those which only took one summer. Then I sprigged another 8X10 area with edgings from the original patch. Now, I'm sprigging the last remaining "lawn" in the backyard. The only drawback is that it turns brown at first frost. But it keeps its spot in winter just fine until the warmer weather returns and then "poof" it greens right up. I am definitely hoping to get some plants this spring to do the larger area.

    I only use the chenille in the shady areas but the peanut will grow in some shade too just not as thick as in the full sun.

    The mimosa disappears on me in the winter so I just have it in a flower bed. I have seen people with it on their treelawn and it looks really thick but I haven't checked it out in winter.

    I really want to use the asiatic jasmine in my front yard. My goal is no grass. I've let it go so I actually don't have any grass left. It looks awful but I have PLANS!

    Fortunately, my hubby is all for eliminating the lawn.

    Darla - Hmm..I wonder why your peanut is different. This is a very low growing and spreading type. I did get some by mistake that grows taller and isn't as spreading but it was noticeably different. The type sold at Home Depot is the low spreading one. Full sun is where it gets nice and thick.

    The dwarf chenille is Acalypha pendula and is used in hanging baskets a lot. I bought 5 plants and I've had it for about a year and a half. Filled in and I have sprigged some of it along another area of the path.

  6. Hi Kay...I like the dwarf chenille...very pretty. Do you find it hard to control the spread of the perennial peanut? Also, do you have a problem with weeds coming through it? All of your groundcovers look great.

  7. Susan - I do have to edge the peanut but it is very easy to do with the weedeater turned for edging and then I have more to sprig elsewhere! By the second year the peanut was so thick that I have very little weed problems. It seems maintenance free and the only negative is that it turns brown with frost or freeze. It doesn't die out though and so far has bounced back quickly even after these last two extra cold winters. This is the third spring I have had it growing.


Thank you for travelling down My Garden Path with me. I love hearing from you. Please leave a comment and share what is going on in your gardens.