I like to think of vines and groundcovers as the icing on the cake when it comes to 4-season, layered gardening. Often the most overlooked “layer”, vines and groundcovers add a finishing touch to your garden by weaving and linking all of the other elements together into a cohesive design.
There’s no denying when the star of the garden is the plants at foot level… and this is how you know you’ve done underplanting the right way. Pictured above: “Black Scallop” Ajuga (Bugleweed)
Underplanting Vines & Groundcovers in your landscape
Vines are often an overlooked element in many gardens, but they can provide a finishing touch by linking the garden’s layers together. While most of us think of vines climbing lampposts and fences, another effective way to use them is by weaving them into your garden beds! Yes— you can train them to grow over your shrubs and into your trees!
By doing this, you can extend the blooming season of both the vine and the tree/shrub you train them on.
Plant summer blooming vines among your spring blooming shrubs. Or try planting two vines with different
bloom seasons on the same fence!
Groundcovers are the low-growing or low-spreading plants that spread in masses a foot or so tall. Just like vines, groundcovers can help to unify your garden design. As an added bonus, many groundcovers are can adorn your garden with pretty foliage, flowers and even berries.
Groundcovers also have benefits to your garden. They can help to smother weeds and keep the soil around your other plants shady and cool.
Just a friendly warning to choose your groundcovers and fines wisely. Many varieties can be aggressive and choke out your other plantings. These varieties regular corrective weeding to keep them in check.
Vine and Groundcover Recommendations
Clematis are beautiful and non-aggressive climbing vines that come in so many different sizes, shapes and colors. The
different varieties do well in different situations, and climb to different heights. The rich purple, 5” flowers of the popular
‘Jackmanii’ clematis bloom profusely in early summer and continue to bloom all summer long!
Zones 3-9 | 36-72″ W x 10-12′ H
Deer avoid it. Butterflies and hummingbirds can’t stay away! Choose from a variety of colors to make a pretty garden carpet. Just plant phlox and it grows and grows and grows. It looks great cascading over stones or the edges of a stone border.
Zones 3-9 | 18-24” W x 4-6” H
Sedum comes in many sizes and varieties. ‘Autumn Joy’ and‘Angelina’ are good varieties to look for. The small foliage comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Se d um is easy to growand one of the most drought-tolerant groundcovers available.
Zones 4-11 | 18-24″ W(spreading) x 3-24″ H
CREEPING JENNY (GROUNDCOVER)
Creeping Jenny (aka Moneywort) is a chartreuse groundcover offering a great contrast color to other plants and flowers. A vigorous trailer, Creeping Jenny works well for shady spots in your landscape and also thrives in full sun. Use some for your hanging baskets for a great “spill” feature.
Zones 3-8 | 6″ H (vigorous spreader/trailer)
Vines and groundcovers tend to be one of the most underutilized categories when garden planning. But using vines and groundcovers in the right way can make your 4-season layered landscape look lush and cohesive. Vines can be planted within flowering trees and shrubs to extend bloom seasons, while groundcovers can be used to smother weeds and cool the soil beneath your other plantings. Not to mention both can adorn your garden with pretty flowers, foliage and even berries! Beware of aggressive varieties of vines and groundcovers, though, as they can easily take over your garden and choke out your other plants. Remember: Anyone can put tall plants in the back and short plants in the front, but with the use of vines and groundcovers you can take your landscape from good to AMAZING.
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