Great ground covers look pleasing from season to season.'Eco-Lacquered Spider' boasts shiny green-and-gold foliage that is purplish in winter and accented by tiny yellow flowers in spring.
Sometimes it seems that designing a garden is like solving a complex puzzle. That’s actually one of the challenges of gardening I enjoy most—finding beautiful and robust plants to suit a site. And, in areas that can be the most confounding—such as along slopes, under trees, or between crevices of rocks or stepping stones—herbaceous ground covers often fill the bill.
My favorite ground-cover plants spread quickly without aggressively taking over the way that English ivy (Hedera helix) does. And they look stunning with little care. A few vigorous ground covers can even withstand foot traffic or the rowdy antics of pets.
Most great ground covers are essentially creepers—they grow out rather than up. Some, such as creeping raspberry (Rubus calycinoides, also known as Rubus pentalobus), travel by sending out runners and producing rootlets wherever a leaf node or stem touches the soil. Others, like Mazus reptans, form rosettes of foliage with roots along their stems. They’re all easy to propagate by division. None of my favorites develop woody stems or deep root systems, so they are relatively easy to curtail. If they cover too much ground, I just dig up the excess growth and either transplant it, give it away, or discard it.