Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 111: Weed-Suppressing Ground Covers

Video by Danielle Sherry and Carol Collins. Edited by Kara Demos.

Is there anything ground covers can’t do? They are useful in problem areas like steep slopes, under trees and shrubs, and in spaces that need erosion control. They also reduce maintenance by enveloping areas that would ordinarily need a boatload of mulch to keep weeds at bay. Now, not all ground covers play nice. Some species will not only cover bare ground, but they will choke out neighboring plants. But that’s not the plants we’re talking about today. We’re focusing on ground covers that will spread out thickly but politely, and smother out any potential weeds in the process. We discuss options for sun, shade, and even drought-tolerant selections for those truly hellish spots. And in case you think we’re too East Coast–centric, today’s expert calls in from California to offer up some plants that thrive in the Western half of the country.

Expert testimony: Fionuala Campion is the owner and manager of Cottage Gardens of Petaluma in Petaluma, California.

Danielle’s Plants

Woolly thyme
Woolly thyme

Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus, Zones 5–8)

Wild strawberry
Wild strawberry

Wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca, Zones 5–9)

Siberian cypress
Siberian cypress

Siberian cypress (Microbiota decussata, Zones 3–7)

Alpine water fern (photo credit: Doreen Wynja)
Alpine water fern. Photo: Doreen Wynja

Alpine water fern (Austroblechnum penna-marina, Zones 6–8)

Carol’s Plants

‘Drops of Jupiter’ oregano
‘Drops of Jupiter’ oregano

‘Drops of Jupiter’ oregano (Origanum ‘Drops of Jupiter’, Zones 4–9)

‘Six Hills Giant’ catmint
‘Six Hills Giant’ catmint
‘Six Hills Giant’ catmint
‘Six Hills Giant’ catmint

‘Six Hills Giant’ catmint (Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’, Zones 4–7)

Eastern hay-scented fern
Eastern hay-scented fern

Eastern hay-scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Zones 3–8)

‘Viette's Little Suzy’ black-eyed Susan
‘Viette’s Little Suzy’ black-eyed Susan

‘Viette’s Little Suzy’ black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Viette’s Little Suzy’, Zones 4–9)

Expert’s Plants

‘Beyond Blue’ fescue (credit: Fionuala Campion)
‘Beyond Blue’ fescue. Photo: Fionuala Campion

‘Beyond Blue’ fescue (Festuca glauca ‘Beyond Blue’, Zones 4–10)

‘Emerald Carpet’ manzanita (credit: Fionuala Campion)
‘Emerald Carpet’ manzanita. Photo: Fionuala Campion

‘Emerald Carpet’ manzanita (Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’, Zones 6–10)

‘Bertie Crug’ geranium (credit: Fionuala Campion)
‘Bertie Crug’ geranium. Photo: Fionuala Campion

‘Bertie Crug’ geranium (Geranium ‘Bertie Crug’, Zones 5–9)

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