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03-15-21 | News

Easy Care Landscaping with Low-Growing Groundcover Shrubs

By Natalie Carmolli, Spring Meadow Nursery

Low-growing ornamental shrubs are an easy-care, durable choice for many landscape applications. For more information about the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs in this article, contact Spring Meadow Nursery at www.SpringMeadowNursery.com.
Low-growing ornamental shrubs are an easy-care, durable choice for many landscape applications. For more information about the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs in this article, contact Spring Meadow Nursery at www.SpringMeadowNursery.com.
Low-growing ornamental shrubs are an easy-care, durable choice for many landscape applications. For more information about the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs in this article, contact Spring Meadow Nursery at www.SpringMeadowNursery.com.

Groundcover plants are a great answer to some of the most problematic landscape conundrums. From uneven terrain to places where you cannot get other varieties to thrive, low-growing groundcover shrubs are a great low-maintenance choice. These hardworking plants are ideal for mass plantings in large landscaping projects and as natural tools to prevent erosion. Plus, because of their low growing characteristics, less weeding and mulching is required where these plants are sited.

When it comes shrubs, it would be easy to consider only their easy-care characteristics, but the days of these hardy little plants simply being all green, garden workhorses are gone. Modern, high performance shrub cultivars are more attractive than ever, and conventional varieties that have been bred to fit into groundcover roles provide a perfectly delightful answer to many landscape dilemmas.

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Native plants are the definition of low maintenance. Because they grow naturally in North America, they thrive easily in cultural conditions from whence they came. However, this often also means these happy plants also can get very large, as is the case with Aronia, or chokeberry. Proven Winners® ColorChoice® has solved that issue with three selections of dwarf Aronia. The first is maybe the closest thing yet to a perfect landscape plant, Low Scape® Mound Aronia. It offers full season appeal with dark green glossy foliage, loads of white flowers in spring, black summer fruit, and intense red foliage in autumn. Reaching heights of just 1-2' and 2' wide, it is ideal for low-maintenance mass plantings or bank stabilization. Landscapers should think of it as Rhus 'Gro Lo' with multi-season appeal. For those looking for the same performance but a little more height, Low Scape® Hedger Aronia reaches heights of 3-5' and is 2-3' wide, making it an ideal, carefree choice for low hedges, screening and mass plantings. Finally, the newest member of the series, Ground Hug™ Aronia is perfect for filling in difficult spaces such as parking lot beds, slopes, or anywhere mowing would be difficult or undesirable. It naturally grows as a thick, dense mat (8-14" tall/ 3' wide), eliminating the need for weeding and mulching as well. All three have a wide hardiness zone, USDA 3-9, and are quick growers.

Another fantastic choice for low-growing, low-maintenance landscapes with full-season ornamental appeal is the Yuki® Series of Deutzia. These graceful, low-spreading shrubs are neat and compact, topping out at 1-2' tall and about 2-3' wide. Yuki Snowflake® Deutzia is an extra-heavy blooming variety with elegant white spring flowers that appear at the perfect time for spring gardens. Even more unique and over ten years in the making, Yuki Cherry Blossom® Deutzia is the first-ever 'Nikko'-type deutzia with pink flowers. Excellent for mass plantings because of its neat, mounded habit and burgundy-purple fall color, a shower of elegant pink flowers create a carpet of spring color. Both varieties are hardy in USDA zone 5-8, and both are tough, adaptable plants that make excellent groundcover, especially on a sunny slope.

If you seek dramatic, dark foliage as a backdrop for vibrant, colorful flowers, Spilled Wine® Weigela shares the fabulous deep purple foliage and hot pink flowers of the classic Wine & Roses® Weigela but with a low growing habit. This useful plant grows wider than tall (2-3' tall and 3-4' wide), making it the perfect choice for edging beds or walkways and for incorporating under windows in landscaping. Smaller still is the new Midnight Wine Shine™ Weigela, topping out at just 1-1.5' tall and 2-2.5' wide. This is an improved selection with darker, extremely glossy foliage. Its parentage comes from the Canadian variety 'Tango,' so it has excellent hardiness and is less prone to tip dieback. While its flowers are striking, the plant is grown for its attractive foliage and habit, making it a great replacement for Berberis in places where it is banned. Both varieties are excellent choices for full sun sites that call for lots of color in low, flowing mass plantings. Both are very cold hardy, down to USDA zone 4, are deer resistant, and very easy to care for.

Two cultivars of viburnum bring showy spring blooms on a habit that is no more wide than tall. Wabi-Sabi® viburnum is a landscape-worthy selection with a unique low-growing, strongly horizontal habit. It is ideal for planting on walls or in permanent planter boxes, as well as for planting at the front of beds or along walkways. In spring, branches are covered in large lacecap flowers, borne with the striking habit typical of doublefile viburnum. High-quality foliage carries it through the rest of the season with grace and charm. Wabi Sabi® viburnum will mature to about 2-3' tall and 3-4' wide. Finally, Lil' Ditty® witherod viburnum is one of the smallest on the market. It is a puffball of creamy-white, fragrant flowers in late spring with glossy foliage that takes on good fall color. Measuring just 1-2' tall and wide, it is eminently versatile for both residential and commercial landscapes. Both cultivars will thrive when planted in sun to part-sun with well-drained soil, and like all viburnums, they are deer resistant.

Low-growing ornamental shrubs are an easy-care, durable choice for many landscape applications. For more information about the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs in this article, contact Spring Meadow Nursery at www.SpringMeadowNursery.com.

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