Native groundcovers

Are you seeking a groundcover that is both beautiful and friendly to the ecosystem? Try looking beyond the old standbys to the new trend in gardening circles: native Virginia plants.

Bare ground in a garden is an invitation to weeds and erosion. The conventional landscaping solutions are either to pile on wood mulch or to plant an aggressive plant – such as English ivy, Japanese pachysandra, Vinca, spreading Liriope, or Yellow Archangel – then let it take over. The problem with those plants is that they take over more than just our gardens: they spread where they are not wanted by inexorably creeping along and by producing seeds that allow them to leap into our few remaining natural areas, where they crowd out the native plants and ruin the local ecosystem.

To prevent these unintended consequences, landscapers are now turning to plants that evolved locally, of which there are numerous examples that provide the “look” we are used to: a dense, low-growing monoculture for shade or part shade areas. Some are evergreen, others deciduous. A few have the additional feature of colorful spring flowers. Some can tolerate the bone-dry conditions under a tree; others prefer constant moisture. With the exception of Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) and Common Violet (Viola sororia), none would be accused of being aggressive. Isn’t this nicer than having a bare mulch garden? Details and photos can be found on the Plant NOVA Natives website.

 

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