Using Ground Cover Flowers in a Garden Landscape Design

Using Ground Cover Flowers

Ground Cover FlowersAs winter comes to a close, the anticipation of spring grows stronger, and with it the desire to inundate your backyard with beautiful flowers. Tap the full floral potential by using ground cover flowers in a landscape garden design. The color and texture of ground cover flowers complement other design elements in your garden. They create colorful barriers that focus attention on smaller designed spaces for the eye to rest. Ground cover flowers frame and direct the eye to focal points and drape over short, stone retaining walls. They grow between stepping stones or brick paths that meander through the garden, unobtrusively leading you to delightful places to sit and take in the beauty and fragrance of surrounding flowers. Depending on where you live, this season of delight may be long or short. Using flowers in a landscape garden design enhances the overall ambiance, requires less maintenance, crowds weeds out, and returns to bloom the following years.


Aspects of Function, Maintenance, and Design

There are considerations when choosing the appropriate flowering ground cover. Points to consider are:

  • function: in a walkway, along a border, to fill a large area, upholding dirt on a slope, surrounding a designed area of interest
  • maintenance requirements: watering, trimming, deadheading, fertilizing, durability, removing excessive growth
  • design elements: size, shape, color, type, and fragrance of blooms; height; density, texture of plant leaves and stems
  • transitional elements: borders, fences, short walls, edging, walkways/paths



Using ground cover flowers in a garden landscape provides many functional applications. On a slope ending with a two to three-foot stone retaining wall, short flowering ground cover attractively cascades over parts of the wall, adding casual diversity to an informal cottage garden design. Choosing a flowering ground cover with different root systems creates a more formal appearance. Vast areas on the outskirts of the garden, planted with taller perennials and shorter ones as they grow closer in, frame a garden space and bring attention to a focal point. Match the specifications of the flowering plant to the design function required.



Part of the role of ground cover includes little to no care. Some ground cover flowers will need deadheading to produce more blooms while others will not.  So to deadhead or not to deadhead, that is the question, especially with traditional flower gardens. Removing dying flowers will tidy up the garden while fooling some plants into creating more blossoms for seeds. Some plants require using long hedge shears, others a small hand pruning shear. Each plant is different. Some plants are self-seeders, filling in gaps between plants creating greater density. Some spread long distances, too, and can pop up at unexpected locations.



Flowers are an incredible design element with unlimited potential. Arranging flowering ground cover in varying heights creates unity with a diversity of size, shape, and color in border areas, in extensive flat areas and along gentle slopes. Flowers attract birds and butterflies adding interest in these spaces. A flat, level area of floral color acts as a blanket extending into the distance. Note which way the wind blows to direct fragrant flower in the direction of resting areas in the garden. Many flowering ground covers are hardy enough to withstand foot traffic between paved stone and brick walkways and paths.


Besides, color and texture, the type of blossoms vary. There are several types of inflorescence –  spike, raceme, umbel, panicle, and composite head. These individual flowers grow in groups along or at the top of a stem. For example, daisies are composite heads, while Pink Indian Hawthorn flowers and Foxglove are racemes.


When designing with color, value often takes a backseat. However, if an area is limited in colors to white and soft pastels, consider the value of these blossoms against the value of the foliage. Although leaf and stem size and texture is important, value differences make the biggest impact when brilliant color is not the primary focus.


Transitional Elements Using Ground Cover Flowers in a Garden Landscape

Consider the transitional items that separate ground cover flowers from other parts of the garden. Depending on the rate and type of growth, borders, edging, fences and short brick or stone walls might suffice in containing the ground cover while adding to the design. The color of the fences, stones, and bricks in the garden should be subordinate to and enhance the flower color.


Selecting Ground Cover Flowers

Choose low maintenance ground cover by first considering native plants. Watch for the term ‘fast spreading’ and check to see if the plant creates more work trying to get rid of the overgrowth. Look at plant catalogs and websites for plants in your climate zone. Photographs are crucial, as often, words lack the impact of a visual description.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *