Larger areas require plants that don’t require as much care. Flowering plants are fine for small areas, but when planted in large quantities they can quickly become cumbersome. Choosing low-maintenance, non-flowering plants such as Juniperus horizontalis “Creeping Juniper” or Juniperus sabina “Savin Juniper” prevent weeds and allows more time to tend to the decorative flowering plants interspersed throughout the garden. When planting, ensure that the juniper plants are densely packed to prevent the possibility of weeds growing between.
If the garden exists in an area with low sunlight, choose plants that thrive in these areas. For larger areas over 50 square feet choose plants that don’t flower such as Paxistima cambyi “Mountain Lover.” For smaller areas, choosing flowering plants helps add an extra level of color. Lamiastrum galeobdolon “Archangel” provide a touch of yellow to the garden, Convallaria majalis “Lily-of-the-valley” adds white and Ajuga reptans “Carpet bugle” creates blue, pink, white and purple flowers.
Dense cover crops and ground cover plants help prevent weeds from growing and provide a lush background for ornamental flowers. Several types of ground cover plants provide the necessary coverage to prevent weeds, but be careful when choosing a plant as many of them are invasive or require significant amounts of maintenance. Generally, any plant that grows low and less than 24 inches tall works as a suitable option for ground cover.
Before planting ground cover plants make root out any existing weeds. Also, decide on the type of ground cover plant to use. Each situation requires a different type of plant. For instance, if the ground appears fairly level use short, low-growing plants. For areas that have steep slopes, high-growing plants work best. Traffic destroys ground plants so install a walkway through the plants before planting. Finally, work 3 cubic yards of compost into the soil for each 1,000-square-foot area to improve the soil.
Ground Cover Plants for Large Areas
Cover crops provide a thick, dense mulch that prevent weeds from growing. Gardeners may plant peas, beans or soybeans to help keep out weeds and provide the necessary nitrogen to the ground soil. However, they won’t live through extremely cold seasons. Winter wheat and rye also provide good options, though they are best suited for hilly areas since they have a tendency to grow high. One of the best options for cover crops are Trifolium “Clovers.” They withstand temperature change well and effectively prevent weeds from growing.
Choose ground cover plants for small areas such as Achillea ageratifolia “Greek Yarrow,” Artemisia schmidtiana “Silver Mound” and Sedum spurium “Stonecrop.” These plants provide excellent cover, withstand temperature changes and are easy to maintain. They also don’t grow very high or fast so it isn’t necessary to worry about the plants becoming invasive. Any densely growing plant that grows less than 6 tall inches provides an excellent choice for smaller areas. Using smaller plants makes it possible to keep the garden looking uniform and prevents spillovers into other areas of the yard.
Steven Miller graduated with a master's degree in 2010. He writes for several companies including Lowe's and IBM. He also works with local schools to create community gardens and learn environmentally responsible gardening. An avid gardener for 15 years, his experience includes organic gardening, ornamental plants and do-it-yourself home projects.
Ground Cover Plants for Small Areas
Plants like hosta and coral bells can be tucked into small areas around trees and shrubs to control weeds.
For shade- part shade, try some of these:
You gaze proudly at your newly planted flower bed that you’ve spent weeks creating. Every perfect plant that you selected grows tidily in its carefully planned out location. Then your eyes fall on little sprouts of green weeds popping up between your beautiful plants! Unfortunately, many times when we till the ground for new planting beds, we are also stirring up weed seeds that quickly germinate in regularly watered soil that is exposed to the sun. Now the choice is yours, head back to your local garden center for weed killing chemicals that could harm your wanted plants or purchase more plants to tuck into the open spaces for weed control.
In vegetable gardens, herbs can be tucked in the spaces around vegetable plants. Certain herbs can even benefit the flavor of the vegetable. For example, many people plant basil around tomato plants to improve the flavor of the tomatoes.
How to Stop Weeds Using Flowers
In flower beds, small plants and ground covers can be used as eye-pleasing flowering plants that deter weeds. A thick mass planting of plants can control weeds by keeping direct sunlight off the soil, which often causes weed seeds to germinate and can compete with the weeds for water and nutrients. Mass planting of flowering plants can also shade the soil, so less water and moisture is lost from evaporation.
Low growing, creeping shrubs are also used for dense plantings for weed control. Spreading junipers and mugo pines are often used to fill in large areas. Asian jasmine, Gro-low fragrant sumac, euonymus and cotoneaster also can cover a large area and suppress weed growth.
Perennial ground covers are often used as flowering plants that deter weeds.
Dense Planting for Weed Control
In full sun, the following plants are excellent choices for beautiful and efficient ground cover:
Farmers have always used cover crops (like peas, beans, soybeans, wheat and rye) to smother out pesky weeds and replace nutrients, like nitrogen, which can be leached from the soil by rains and waterings. In flower beds and home vegetable gardens, you can also use this method of dense planting for weed control.