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Plants: Ground Covers: Shrubs
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Ground cover shrubs have been used for years for erosion control, natural barriers, foundations, and many other different landscape types. Here are some suggested ground cover shrubs that you can use in your landscape. Ground covers are not always maintenance free, but in the right setting they can be. That is why it is always important to make sure you install the right plant in the correction location. The following is general information for ground cover shrubs and the selection you can choose from:

Ground Covers for Sun:
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’ Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’
Massachusetts Bearberry
Evergreen
Height: 6-12”
Foliage: Glossy green
Spread: 4-5’
Flower: White, tinged pink; April to May
Fruit: Bright red in late summer
Value: Grows well in poor, sandy soils
Cotoneaster adpressus praecox  Cotoneaster adpressus praecox          
Early Cotoneaster
Deciduous
Height: 2-4’
Foliage: Dark green with pink flowers April to May
Spread: 4-6’
Fruit: Red
Cotoneaster apiculata  Cotoneaster apiculata 
Cranberry Cotoneaster
Deciduous
Height: 2-4’
Foliage: Dark green
Spread: 3-6’
Fruit: Red
Value: Effective as a bank covering
Cotoneaster dammeri ‘Coral Beauty’ 

Cotoneaster dammeri ‘Coral Beauty’   
Coral Beauty Cotoneaster
Semi-evergreen
Height: 1-2’
Foliage: Dark green with white flowers in May
Spread: 4-6’
Fruit: Coral-red
 

Cotoneaster horizontalis ‘Perpusillus’  Cotoneaster horizontalis ‘Perpusillus’   
Ground Cotoneaster
Deciduous
Height: 10-12”
Foliage: Dark green with pink flowers in May
Spread: 5-7’
Fruit: Red
Cotoneaster salicifolius ‘Scarlet Leader’ 

Cotoneaster salicifolius ‘Scarlet Leader’ 
Scarlet Leader Willowleaf Cotoneaster
Semi-evergreen
Height: 1-2’
Foliage: Dark green with white flowers in May and June
Spread: 4-6’
Fruit: Red

Forsythia ‘Courtasol’ Forsythia ‘Courtasol’
Gold Tide Forsythia
Deciduous     
Height: 1-2’
Flower: Lemon yellow
Spread: 4-6’
Value: Excellent ground cover for bankings and slopes
Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii ’Glauca’ 

Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii ’Glauca’        
Blue Sargent Juniper
Evergreen
Height: 1-2’
Foliage: Blue-green
Spread: 6-8’
Growth Rate: Moderate
Value: Very salt tolerant

Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii ‘Viridis’ 

Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii ‘Viridis’          
Green Sargent Juniper
Evergreen
Height: 1-2’
Foliage: Green
Spread: 6-8’
Growth Rate: Moderate
Value: Very salt tolerant

Juniperus conferta ‘Blue Pacific’

 Juniperus conferta ‘Blue Pacific’
Blue Pacific Juniper
Evergreen
Height: 10-12”
Foliage: Blue-green
Spread: 6-8’ 
Growth Rate: Slow
Value: Effective when draped over walls, extremely salt tolerant

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Bar Harbor’ 

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Bar Harbor’ 
Bar Harbor Juniper
Evergreen
Height: 6-8”
Foliage: Blue-green, reddish purple in winter
Spread: 6-8’
Growth Rate: Moderate
Value: Very salt tolerant

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Chip’ 

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Chip’         
Blue Chip Juniper
Evergreen
Height: 6-10”
Foliage: Brilliant blue, blue, tipped with purple in winter
Spread: 6-8’
Growth Rate: Moderate

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Monber’

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Monber’
Icee Blue Juniper
Evergreen
Height: 4-6”
Foliage: Silvery blue
Spread: 6-8’
Growth Rate: Moderate           Value: Maintains a dense, tight crown

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Plumosa Compacta’ 

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Plumosa Compacta’  
Compact Andorra Juniper
Evergreen
Height: 15-18”
Foliage: Light green, bronze-purple in winter
Spread: 6-8’ 
Growth Rate: Moderate, good for slopes

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’

Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’
Blue Rug Juniper
Evergreen
Height: 4-6”  Foliage: Silver-blue
Foliage: Purplish tinge in winter
Spread: 6-8’
Growth Rate: Moderate, excellent spreading habit
Value: Extremely salt tolerant

Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ 

Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ 
Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper
Evergreen
Height: 4-6”
Foliage: Light green
Spread: 6-8’ 
Growth Rate: Mod. slow
Value: Forms a dense mat, excellent for rock gardens.

Juniperus sabina var. tamariscifolia ‘New Blue’

Juniperus sabina var. tamariscifolia ‘New Blue’
New Blue Tam Juniper
Evergreen Shrub
Height: 1-2’
Foliage: Blue-green
Spread: 6-8’
Growth Rate: Moderate

Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-low’ Rhus aromatica ‘Gro-low’
Gro-low Sumac
Deciduous
Height: 2’
Flower: Yellow
Spread: 6-8’
Fruit: Red, hairy
Value: Tolerates poor soil
Taxus cuspidata ‘Monloo’ 

Taxus cuspidata ‘Monloo’    Emerald Spreader Japanese Yew
Evergreen Shrub
Height: 2-2.5’
Foliage: Dark green
Spread: 8-10’
Growth Rate: Moderate

   

Ground Covers for Shade:
Comptonia peregrina Sweet Fern Comptonia peregrina    Sweet Fern
Deciduous
Height: 2-3’
Flower: White, fragrant
Spread: Indefinite
Foliage: Dark green, sweet smelling
Value: Tolerates dry soils
Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’

Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’ 
Purple-leaf Wintercreeper
Evergreen      
Height: 6-10”
Foliage: Deep green; purple in fall
Spread: Indefinite
Exposure: Sun/part shade

Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolari

Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolari
Climbing Hydrangea
Deciduous
Height: 2-3’
Flower: White, fragrant, June to July
Spread: Indefinite

Microbiota decussata

Microbiota decussata  
Siberian Carpet Cypress
Evergreen
Height: 6-12”
Foliage: Light green, brownish gray in winter
Spread: 4-6’ 
Growth Rate: Mod. slow
Value: Similar to Juniper in appearance, but tolerates more shade

Stephanandra incise ‘Crispa’

Stephanandra incise ‘Crispa’
Dwarf Cutlead Stephanandra
Deciduous
Height: 1.5-3’
Foliage: Dense, bright green
Spread: 5-8’
Growth Rate: Mod. Fast

Vaccinium angustifolium

Vaccinium angustifolium
Lowbush Blueberry
Deciduous
Height: 6-18”
Fruit: Blue-black berry
Spread: 18-24”; July to August

Maintenance

  • Proper maintenance of ground cover shrubs ensures:
    • Good growth
    • Rapid coverage
    • Acceptable plant health
  • Good maintenance:
    • Promotes growth
    • Prevents competition from weeds and grasses
  • The first maintenance task should be the application of light mulch to recently planted ground covers to:
    • Conserves moisture
    • Reduces weed competition
    • Promotes a cooler soil environment

Watering

  • Water ground covers to ensure the plant’s successful establishment
    • Plants should be well watered the first season after planting
      • This will provide a well developed root system
    • Established plants do not need regular watering
      • Some plants may need supplemental watering during drought periods
    • When water is needed
      • Apply enough to penetrate the soil to a depth of 12 inches
    • Check the soil twice a week to determine soil moisture

Fertilizer

  • During the installation process:
    • Use Healthy Start fertilizer or Bonide Tree and Shrub Starter Fertilizer
  • After your ground cover is established:

Conditions

  • Some ground covers prefer:
    • Sun such as Junipers
    • Shade or part sun such as Siberian Carpet Cypress

Planting Tip
When planting trees and shrubs we recommend incorporating planting mix.

Printable Fact Sheets
Click here for useful, printable pest control fact sheets from Bonide.

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Plants: Shrubs as Ground Covers
       
 

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  Northeast Nursery Garden Center
234 Newbury Street, Peabody, MA 01960
Telephone: 978-535-6550
Hours: Mon-Sat 7-6, Sun 8-6
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Northeast Nursery Contractor Center
6 Dearborn Road, Peabody, MA 01960
Telephone: 978-854-4520
Hours: Mon-Sat 7-5, Sun 8-5
Click here for Map and Driving Direction
 
     
 

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