How to grow groundcover plants

5 min read

mixed sedum species forming groundcover. Yellow and white flowers above green foliage

Groundcover plants are an asset to any garden. Not only do they look beautiful, they protect the soil and help the environment. Here are some tips on how to grow groundcover plants.

  • Choose your groundcover plants wisely
  • Create the right conditions in your garden
  • Keep weeds under control
  • Use pre-planted mats for speediest coverage

How to choose your groundcover plants wisely?

The thing that makes groundcover plants so desirable can also be a disadvantage. They cover the ground – which is great and they do it quickly. Speed is good until the plants become invasive.

Enviromat: ideal ground cover for front garden
Enviromat sedum matting in early spring. The textural qualities are amazing but there’s more to come – this stuff flowers too! (picture taken by CouCou Garden Design)

Having said that. Plants which suppress weeds, look amazing and virtually care for themselves are exactly what I want more of. They fit in with a busy life.

When choosing groundcover look for plants which are:

  • Low growing – hugs the soil
  • Perennial – grows back every year
  • Evergreen – keeps most of its leaves all year round
  • Frost hardy
  • Drought tolerant
  • Bee-friendly if possible (bees need every bit of help they can get)
  • Disease resistant
  • Not too invasive
  • Offers all year round interest
  • Suits the conditions in your garden

The ultimate ground cover plants are low growing sedum species.
There are plenty to choose from that love living in the UK. Butterflies and bees can’t resist the flowers, rabbits and deer won’t eat the foliage and the plants are virtually self-sufficient.  Their only drawback is that they don’t like shade conditions or soggy soil.

Where to plant groundcover plants?

In my own garden I like to use groundcover plants in areas that are more difficult to maintain. Behind the pond for example, on steep banks and where the soil is difficult to work with. In my front garden where steep steps make it difficult to access with the mower. I’ve used groundcover plants as an alternative to a grass lawn.

How to keep weeds under control?

A stunning carpet of groundcover plants can be completely ruined by an invasion of weeds. Grassy weeds will outcompete the more desirable plants and well, the whole thing just looks horrid.

Manage weeds by covering the area with weed suppressant membrane and planting through it.  Simply cut an “x” where each plant is to sit, settle the plant into it and tuck the membrane in around the stem.  Use bark mulch or ornamental aggregates to hide the membrane.

Alternatively, lay a pre-planted matting like Enviromat sedum matting on top of weed suppressant membrane for a quick to establish display.

How to grow groundcover using Enviromat sedum matting

sedum flower heads in july. bright magenta heads of sedum spurium with yellow and white sedum flowers in the background
Enviromat sedum matting in July. Resplendent with flowers.

Enviromat sedum matting was developed for use on extensive green roofs but it has proved to be a cost effective and attractive alternative for groundcover planting too.

Installation of Enviromat needn’t be a task but it is important that the area you want to cover gets lots of sunlight (it’s out of the shade for at least half the day) and is well drained.

Prepare the ground by removing weeds and large pieces of debris. You don’t need deep soil to grow Enviromat.

Rake the ground so that it is reasonably level.  Enviromat must have contact with the ground at all times. Hills and slopes are OK but the mat simply won’t flex and fold to
fit extreme contours.

Lay down your weed suppressant membrane and fix it to the ground. Pegs are great for this job.

For a flat surface, lay some drainage mat on top of the membrane. This will keep the plants’ roots from becoming waterlogged. Sedums will not thrive if their feet are wet!

Now unroll your Enviromat on top of the drainage mat and membrane. Be sure to specify that you need Enviromat All-in-One with the water retention
matting stitched on to it.

Enviromat Ground Cover Kits contain all you need to install sedum matting as groundcover. Learn more here.

When your Enviromat is down, give it a good watering and your work is done. All you need to do is make sure the plants don’t dry out for the first 3-4 weeks and you should have a beautiful floral display every summer from now on.

Things to remember about using Sedum Matting as Ground Cover

Enviromat is a living product and is extremely perishable when left rolled up. Prepare the ground before your sedum matting is delivered and unroll the mats as soon as they arrive.

Sedums are not hard wearing like grass. It’s OK to walk on them now and again but please don’t ask them to tolerate heavy foot traffic. If you need a pathway, lay some slabs or stepping stones.

You will need to feed your sedum plants once or twice a year. Apply a specialist sedum feed in Feb/March and again in May to support growth and flowering.

No need to dead-head your sedum plants. Birds like to collect them up to use as nesting materials. If autumn leaves fall onto your sedum groundcover, please
sweep them up ASAP. They will block sunlight and kill your plants.

Some sedums lose a few of their leaves in autumn and winter. This is normal and it’s OK. You may notice that some of the foliage turns red, and that’s OK too.

Sedums are drought tolerant but in very hot dry weather they will welcome a drink of water. If your garden goes for 4 weeks with no rain, give your sedum matting a good soaking.

Where to buy Enviromat Sedum Matting

Order Enviromat online

Order weed suppressant membrane online

Related information

Groundcover alternatives to a grass lawn

out more about Enviromat and download our full installation instructions

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