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Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

Posted by slimwhitman 5b/6a (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 25, 08 at 16:21

Low Maintenance Groundcovers

Hey, I am a landscape architect in KC and we use groundcovers a lot. I find that we are in a rut and use almost exclusivly English Ivy and Wintercreeper on our projects. Our projects are typically large-scale with dozens of flats of plants on each project.

I am hoping to try new plants on upcoming projects and wanted some advise from you all.

Plants should be no taller than 10" at maturity and must be able to take 3/4 day sun and generic maintenance from a landscape company. We often have full irrigation in these beds, but sometimes we don't (depends on the client). Plants could be evergreen or deciduous. Any color or texture would be considered, I just want to know what you think deserves my attention for this zone 5b/6a climate.

Other plants I have tried or might try:
Liriope - works fine, but the maintenence contractors have a hard time finding and pulling grass weeds in it.
Kewensis Wintercreeper - Nice texture, but refuses to grow.
Ajuga - Seemed to peter out in the summer in sun.
Plumbago - This has potential
Dianthus - I'm not too sure about this in large quantities.
Euphorbia/Spurge - I keep killing this stuff.
Junipers(blue rug & sim.) - These are so last decade.
Creeping jenny - This seems too residential
Pachysandra - I have had some luck with this.
Mondo grass - ?
Creeping sedums - Do you have recommendations?
Creeping Thyme - I have no experience with this.
Vinca - Sometimes this does well, other times it looks terrible.
Any more??


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

Someone mentioned Sweet Woodruff to me. Will that work in the circumstances listed above?


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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

A creeping sedum which fills in quite nicely is S. sarmentosum...

Check it out, you might like it.

Another of my favorites to use (and the clients like the flowers) is Scutellaria alpina...not as predictable in performance as the sedum, but a nice plant.


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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

We grow the Dragon,s Blood Sedum under our birdbath and around the edge of our perennial bed and under some of our roses.....it grows quickly filling in spots nicely.....has a neat habit with low maintenance.....i think its about 6 to 8 inches tall.


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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

Had never heard of the hardy blue plumbago before... will have to look into that, very pretty! Thanks for mentioning it.

I have vinca, and it takes a while to establish *if* it decides to establish. But if it does, it does great as you have discovered. The variety I have apparently likes a bit of shade but doesn't need water.

If bloom color is your beef with dianthus, you might not like hardy ice plant (Delosperma cooperi), but otherwise ice plant could be ideal - spreads, good for xeriscaping, hardy, did I mention spreads? From what I'm reading, it's sort of like Sedum sarmentosum... if a piece is dropped somewhere, it'll grow there. Apparently the fall color of ice plant isn't too bad either. I might give it a try myself.

Sweet woodruff appears to require regular watering... as in, don't let it dry out or else. Plantfiles has several reviews on it here.

Love the dragon's blood, bouquet kansas; although mine has not filled out, some of it has definitely survived complete neglect by a very lazy gardener (blush).

Webcat, that is some nice skullcap; my favorite yellow.

Best wishes, slim. :-)


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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

I live in your zone. I have the Hardy Plumbago. ...Ilove it. It is a slow "waker upper" and for me does not spread very fast which is Ok. I am planting it around all my rose bushes and I love the blue color.


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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

Add another vote for Hardy Plumbago, aka Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. It also provides great Fall color, turning reddish/bronze before going dormant. It doesn't spread as much in my Johnson County clay soil, but it's a keeper as it thrives on neglect.

Creeping Veronica is another good choice. I have V. umbrosa 'Georgia Blue' starting to bloom in my garden now. It tolerates a wide range of soils as well as re-blooming in the Fall.

The creeping Oreganos will do well here, provided you provide good drainage. Many have fragrant foliage. I've had 'Rosenkruppel' and 'Pilgrim' for a few years and can vouch for their hardiness and Summer drought tolerance. Lost 'Amethyst' Falls' last year, but it was a clearance purchase and planted late (October).

There are some low-growing ornamental grasses like dwarf varieties of Festuca and Carex. Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass) will do ok with 3/4 day of sun, if the soil is consistently moist.


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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

I have a bunch of lambs ear (Stachys byzantina) its nice and drought tolerant and a different texture than most things.

As for the vinca, I have vinca minor, and as long as its in the shade it seems good. So good that I keep pulling up trailing vines from my lawn.


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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

I planted several different type of thyme is semi shade rock garden. I had tried them in my regular garden but had little luck. I read they do better in poor soil which they did. I have 3 creeping kind which are spreading, so don't be afraid to give it a try. I also give agree the hardy plumbago also known as leadwort has beautiful fall foliage.


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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

Thanks for all the great replies. I will keep watching this thread....


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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

I picked up some thyme "Pink Chintz" and some tricolor sedum from Lowe's last week. I haven't planted it yet (still decided where it belongs. The thyme is struggling a bit in the pots, but the sedum is flourishing and doesn't seem to mind the wait... am reading great things about the tricolor sedum as well, so that might be an option for you.


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RE: Low Maintenance Groundcovers for KC

You can't go wrong with plumbago. It has been on the north side of my house since 1957. I never water around there(slope) It grows extremely well, spreads, blooms lovely blue blooms, and has wonderful fall foliage.(red) I planted some along my fence in the alley, and it is gradually choking out the bermuda there.


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