Nonconiferous Low (up To 12') Attractive/decorative Groundcover For Zone 5 - Knowledgebase Question

Bethlehem, PA
Question by WINKOHLS
May 6, 2001
I JUST PLANTED A LOW HEDGE OF DWARF CRIMSON BARBERY AT THE TOP OF A 4' HIGH BANK (HALF CIRCLE).I AM LOOKING FOR A DECORATIVE
PERENNIAL GROUNDCOVER THAT REMAINS ATTRACTIVE. IT NEED NOT BLOOM BUT SHOULD KEEP FOLIAGE DURING WINTER AND SURVIVE SNOW COVERAGE. I LIVE IN ZONE 5.
I ALEADY HAVE TOO MANY CONIFEROUS GROUND COVERS LIKE BLUE RUG, ETC.AND NEED SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR LANDSCAPING EFFECT. THE AREA TO BE PLANTED IS BETWEEN THE STREET AND IN FRONT OF THE MAIN ENTRANCE TO THE RANCH STYLE HOUSE. IT HAS A MID-SIZED LAWN IN FRONT AND BEHIND IT SEPARATING IT FROM THE STREET AND THE HOUSE, I.E. SIDEWALK TO THE HOUSE.
I LIKE WINTER GEM BOXWOOD BUT FEAR IT GROWNS TOO BIG AND WILL DETRACT FROM THE DWARF BERBERY HEDGE WHICH WILL BE AT EYE-LEVEL HEIGHT WHEN VIEWS FROM THE STREET.
YOUR WEB PAGE PICTURE OF LEADWORT (PLUMBAGO) LOOKS VERY ATTRACTIVE. IS IT EVERGREEN AND SUITABLE FOR A LOW MAINTENANCE/FULL SUN MEDIUM TO POOR SOIL LOCATIONS?
THE AREA TO BEPLANTED IS RELATIVELY LARGE AND SHOULD BE LOW MAINTENANCE. IN SHORT FOLIAGE COVERAGE SHOULD BE DENSE OR PLANTS SHOULD ALLOW WEED PREVENTION CLOTH AND MULCH TO DISCOURAGE WEED INFILTRATION. I DO NOT WANT ADJUGA! WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND.
INITIAL PLANTS MAY BE SMALL TO KEEP COST REASONABLE. THANK YOU!


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Answer from NGA
May 6, 2001

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Plumbago would do well but turns red in fall so it might be a clash with the barberry. It is also deciduous and comes up late in the spring. It is, however, a potential choice for the type of situation you are describing. Boxwood would not be a good choice here due to the dry conditions and exposed location. A lower growing dianthus or possibly creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) might meet most of your criteria, these are the only evergreens I can think of that would. Additional candidates would be the various sedums, although they are not evergreen.

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