Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 44: Great Ground Covers

Find out our favorite low-growing, low-care, weed-suppressing plants

There isn’t much a great ground cover can’t do. It can crowd out weeds, stop erosion, fill in the gaps between larger perennials, and even soften the edges of walls and curbs. However, not all ground covers are created equal. The best ones require little care, look great in multiple seasons, and mass out quickly. Steve and Danielle discuss some of their favorite candidates for this laundry list of objectives in this LAAP episode. Their recommendations include perennials and shrubs that fit the bill. Horticulturist Joann Vieira weighs in with several ground cover options that she has used in the past at botanic gardens and private gardens alike. This episode starts off with Danielle “finally” gifting Steve with a few plants that he’s been wanting for years. Listen now to find out which ones.


Expert testimony: Joann Vieira, is the director of horticulture for the Trustees of Reservations in Massachusetts. 



Bearberry is a Northeast native that thrives in sandy soils. It looks a lot like a creeping blueberry when its small, white, bell-shaped blooms show up in midspring.


The plant that inspired this episode, ‘Gro-Low’ fragrant sumac thrives in punishing conditions, like this parking lot circle of an industrial building. The fall color show it puts on is a bonus.


Although Steve’s ‘Himalayan Border Jewel’ fleece flower doesn’t bloom reliably, in areas with a longer season, like this Seattle garden, it flowers like crazy. Even without blossoms, it’s a good-looking plant.


Sunsparkler® Plum Dazzled sedum is a newer variety of low-growing sedum and does best in lean soils with sharp drainage. The purple-blue color of the foliage holds throughout the summer. Its flowers are a favorite late season (late summer/early fall) of pollinators.


Steve brings up ‘Karmina’ hardy geranium in almost every episode—but for good reason. It’s a tough, low-growing perennial that seems to always look attractive.



‘Gro-Low’ fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-Low’, Zones 3–9)

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Zones 2–6)

European wild ginger (Asarum europaeum, Zones 4–7)

Sunsparkler® Plum Dazzled sedum (Sedum ‘Plum Dazzled’, Zones 4–9)

‘Tom Thumb’ cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculatus ‘Tom Thumb’, Zones 5–7)

‘White Nancy’ lamium (Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’, Zones 3–8)



‘Himalayan Border Jewel’ fleece flower (Persicaria affinis ‘Himalayan Border Jewel’, Zones 4–9)

‘Karmina’ hardy geranium (Geranium × cantabrigiense ‘Karmina’, Zones 5–8)

Blue star creeper (Isotoma fluviatilis, Zones 6–9)

Silver carpet (Dymondia margaretae, Zones 9–11)


View Comments


  1. user-7496335 08/27/2019

    Those are all beautiful groundcovers but I wish you had a few good ones for clay soil, maybe I need to dig in past articles. Thank you

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