Cheap ground cover landscaping: 25 Low-Maintenance Ground Cover Plants for Sun and Shade

25 Low-Maintenance Ground Cover Plants for Sun and Shade

Keep weeds at bay with spreading plants in your garden


David Beaulieu

David Beaulieu

David Beaulieu is a landscaping expert and plant photographer, with 20 years of experience.

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Updated on 10/17/22

Reviewed by

Kathleen Miller

Reviewed by
Kathleen Miller

Kathleen Miller is a highly-regarded Master Gardener and horticulturist with over 30 years of experience in organic gardening, farming, and landscape design. She founded Gaia’s Farm and Gardens, a working sustainable permaculture farm, and writes for Gaia Grows, a local newspaper column.

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The Spruce / Autumn Wood 

Turf lawn grasses are by far the most popular ground cover plant in residential landscapes, but some places aren’t really suitable for grass growth (like arid desert yards) and some people simply prefer more diverse or unique «lawnscaping. »

The 25 low-maintenance ground cover plants in this list are vigorous (some more than others) but manageable, so they will fill in empty spaces without growing out-of-control. Plus, each is interesting enough to enhance your surroundings more than an ordinary carpet of grass.

Kaley McKean


When selecting a ground cover for shady areas, make sure to choose shade-tolerant plants that naturally thrive with minimal sunlight. Several plants in this list happily grow in full or partial shade.

Flowering vs. Evergreen Ground Covers

Though many annual flowers can be used for ground coverings, it can be laborious to replant large swaths of coverings yearly. Low-growing, ground-hugging perennial plants are the best low-maintenance ground coverings. Most perennial ground coverings fall into these categories.

  • Flowering ground coverings: Brings visual interest with color to the yard in spring and summer. Some may be perennials, shrubs, or evergreens.
  • Evergreen ground coverings: Evergreen ground covering plants—whether perennials or low-growing shrubs—offer textural visual interest in your yard year-round. Some evergreens flower, others do not, or have insignificant blooms. Evergreens are the opposite of herbaceous perennials which die back to the ground in cold weather.
  • Shade-tolerant ground coverings: These plants thrive under a canopy of shade. They can be flowering, evergreen, or both.
Plant Name Flowering Evergreen Shade-tolerant
Basket-of-gold x x
Amethyst in Snow x x
Creeping phlox x
Angelina sedum x
Nepeta x
Creeping thyme x
Wall germander x x
Creeping juniper x
Rock cotoneaster x
Bunchberry x x x
Spotted deadnettle x x x
Sweet woodruff x x x
Liverleaf x x x
Interrupted fern x
Lenten rose x x x
Ice plant x x
Candytuft x x
Common periwinkle x x x
Bugleweed x x
Chinese lantern x (warm climates)
Hosta x x
Creeping liriope x x x
Pachysandra x x
English ivy x x
Lamb’s Ear x (warm climates)

Best Ground Cover Plants

  • 01
    of 25

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    You can plant this drought-tolerant, low-maintenance ground cover at the edge of a rock garden or other space and more or less forget about it (except for occasional watering) during the summertime.

    The only real maintenance required is trimming it back after it has finished flowering, or whenever it becomes too scraggly for your tastes.

    Basket of Gold also goes by the name yellow alyssum, another reference to its adorable clusters of bright yellow flowers. When shopping for this plant, be sure to ask for Aurinia saxatilis or yellow alyssum, not sweet alyssum, which is an entirely different species.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, can be poor
  • 02
    of 25

    Amethyst in Snow (Centaurea montana ‘Amethyst in Snow’)

    Chris Burrows/Getty Images

    When you buy Centaurea montana ‘Amethyst in Snow’, you may be thinking of it as an upright perennial plant with attractive flowers. What plant labels typically fail to mention is that, under the right growing conditions, ‘Amethyst in Snow’ makes a flowering ground cover that will spread nicely. When grown as a ground cover, it is an easy-care plant that requires little maintenance.

    In ideal sunny conditions, Amethyst in Snow will spread quite quickly, but you can control it easily by pulling out stray shoots. If you prefer a similar but less aggressive variety, consider C. montana ‘Amethyst Dream’.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, low-fertility
  • 03
    of 25

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Creeping phlox is a short plant often seen covering the side of a hill or retaining wall with colorful spring flowers. It is much less noticeable at other times of the year, but that doesn’t detract from its role as a spring superstar.

    Care requirements for creeping phlox are few. Water it during dry spells and give it a haircut at the end of its blossoming period. It does spread under the right conditions, but it is fairly easy to pull it out and keep it from taking over areas where it does not belong.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained, tolerates clay
  • 04
    of 25

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    As with yellow alyssum, Angelina sedum can be regarded as a «Goldilocks» ground cover. Much like the fictional character, it has golden hair (flowers) that spread enough to be effective in covering a certain amount of space, but the plant is not so vigorous a spreader to create a nuisance.

    Angelina Sedum is easy to propagate by rooting, so you can quickly fill an area with its succulent foliage. On the other hand, keeping it in check requires occasionally cutting back the stems, which can actually self-root if they fall off naturally.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, neutral
  • 05
    of 25

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Nepeta x faassenia, commonly called nepeta, nepeta catmint, or Faassen’s catmint, is one of several perennial catmint plants. This one is a horticultural hybrid developed by crossing Nepata racemosa with N. nepetella. It is, therefore, a sterile plant that will not come true from seeds.

    The nepeta genus includes roughly 250 species. Many are perennials, some are annuals, and some make good ground covers, though they can be overly aggressive in favorable locations.

    Nepeta x faassenii is one such species that makes for a good ground cover, since it is one of the best ground coverings to stop weeds. The ‘Six Hills Giant’ cultivar is a good choice for covering large areas. While it is not a spreader, it is large enough to take up space as the spring and summer months advance. Growing as high as 36 inches, it blooms all summer long with purple flowers.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained
  • 06
    of 25

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Creeping thyme (also known as mother of thyme or wild thyme) is a creeping, woody-stemmed perennial that is a favorite plant to use for a low-maintenance ground cover serving as a filler between garden stepping stones.

    Growing only about 3 inches tall, this plant spreads over time, crowding out weeds and thus reducing maintenance further.

    The leaves are fragrant, and deep pink flowers bloom from June through July. This is not the form of thyme used in cooking, but its fragrance will attract bees and other pollinators.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, red, purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Low-fertility, well-drained, alkaline
  • 07
    of 25

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    If you are looking for something unusual, consider wall germander, a broadleaf woody-stemmed evergreen that is often massed or used as a low hedge along retaining walls or in knot gardens.

    This sun-lover grows to a maximum height of about 12 inches with a 24-inch spread, and it blooms with lavender to pink flowers in July.

    It should be pinched back frequently to keep the plants bushy and «shrubby. »

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Neutral to alkaline, well-drained, tolerates poor soil
  • 08
    of 25

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    The creeping juniper is a sprawling, creeping needled evergreen shrub that grows to a maximum height of about 18 inches and with a spread that can go as much as 8 feet. It can be excellent for covering large areas of difficult terrain, such as slopes where growing grass would be difficult or impossible.

    A variety of cultivars are available, including Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Rug.’

    To plant creeping juniper on a grassy slope, get rid of the grass, then lay down landscape fabric along the slope. Poke holes in the fabric and plant the junipers, then cover the fabric with ​mulch. If the hill is big, remove the grass in stages so as not to take unnecessary chances with erosion.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Medium to dry, sandy, well-drained
  • 09
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    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Rock cotoneaster is a deciduous shrub. While many shrubs give you flowers, the prettiest thing about Cotoneaster horizontalis is its colorful, red berries. This shrub also offers some fall-foliage value. This is a large plant with a horizontal growth habit (thus its species name).

    It grows best where it has plenty of space to spread out. Wherever its branches make contact with the soil, it will put down roots, creating new plants.

    Rock cotoneaster is considered a full-shun shrub but benefits from some afternoon shade. When planted in full sun it usually needs extra watering, at least until the plant is well established.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained, loamy
  • 10
    of 25

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Bunchberry is a shade-loving deciduous shrub native to northern portions of North America. Its native habitat is wooded areas, so it is perfect for a shady woodland garden. If those conditions describe your landscape, then you may want to check out this wonderful little relative of the dogwood trees.

    This shrub flowers from May to July with white flowers, and grows to a maximum height of about 9 inches. It has excellent resistance to damage by deer and rabbits.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 6
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained, acid
  • 11
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    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Consult with your local extension office before growing spotted deadnettle because it is invasive in some areas. But in regions where spotted dead nettle is not invasive, it acts as an effective ground cover for deeply shaded areas. Its ornamental value is twofold: it bears splendid blossoms in various colors (depending on the variety), and it displays eye-catching silver leaves, which provide color long after the flowers have faded.

    Note: This plant is considered invasive across much of the northeast, some areas of the northern Midwest, and parts of the Pacific Northwest. There may be restrictions on planting it in these areas.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, red-purple
    • Sun Exposure: Full shade to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained, acid
  • 12
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    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    If you are looking for a low-maintenance ground cover, sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is a good pick, but only under certain conditions. This aromatic herb can be an invasive plant when grown in moist soil, where it sometimes spreads out of control.

    However, sweet woodruff can be a good ground cover choice for dry shade, such as in areas under big trees. It can even thrive in the acidic conditions under large pine trees. It grows to a maximum height of about 12 inches with an 18-inch spread, and it flowers with white blossoms in spring.

    This plant thrives in wet soils, which is why planting it in dry soil and denying it water helps keep it in check. You will have to experiment to arrive at the right balance between giving it enough water to keep it alive and giving it so much that it becomes invasive.

    Sweet woodruff foliage can be dried and used in wreaths, potpourri, and other craft creations.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium to wet, well-drained, loamy, acid
  • 13
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    Liverleaf (Anemone americana)

    The Spruce / David Beaulieu 

    Liverleaf (Anemone americana, formerly classified as Hepatica americana) is a perennial wildflower native to North America. It is evergreen, but some of the leaves may turn brown during winter. Growing to a height of about 6 inches with a spread of 9 inches, it has waxy green leaves that should be removed as they turn brown. In summer, the leaves take on burgundy mottling on the way to becoming totally burgundy (hence the name liverleaf).

    Liverleaf’s spring floral display makes this small perennial special. It is perfect for a small space, like a little garden along a north-facing wall. It spreads by reseeding, but it never will spread enough to become a problem.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, lavender
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained, humusy
  • 14
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    Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana)

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    Interrupted fern, like bunchberry and liverleaf, is a North American native that can serve as a low-maintenance ground cover for shade. It spreads via rhizomes, a trait that can be a double-edged sword.

    The success of many invasive plants is due to this means of spreading. But this plant with pretty foliage—and funny name—rarely becomes a problem for those who grow it in areas where it is already native.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, medium to wet, acid
  • 15
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    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Though Lenten rose is not a rose (it’s part of the buttercup family), its little buds are early season bloomers when it flowers at ground level in the late winter. The beauty of this easy-care perennial ground cover is that it’s deer-resistant which means flowers may be trampled, but not typically eaten.

    Plant Lenten rose ground cover in the early fall or late spring but away from the path of bitter winter winds. The only maintenance you’ll need to do is remove tattered leaves damaged from a bad winter. Divide this plant in the spring for additional and long-living ground cover that can last for a couple of decades. Note that Lenten rose is toxic to animals.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, light rose-purple
    • Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained, loamy
  • 16
    of 25

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Ice plant is a perennial succulent ground cover with fleshy leaves and colorful flowers. It gets its name because light reflects off its hairy growths and sparkles on the landscape.

    Ice plant is a fast and easy-growing ground covering, but pick the right species for your climate. For example, choose Delosperma brunnthaleri, a hardy ground cover that grows around 2 inches tall and 2 feet wide with yellow flowers and ideal for zones 4 to 9. Select Delosperma floribundum ‘Starburst’, a mat-forming cultivar with pink flowers and white centers for zones 6 to 8. Ice plants need plenty of sun to thrive.

    • USDA Growing Zones:  Varies, 4 to 11
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, purple, yellow, orange
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-drained
  • 17
    of 25

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    Candytuft is a ground-hugging, clumping, and flowering perennial that dies back each winter and rebounds each spring and early summer. It’s also a beautiful ground cover to consider for moon gardens, but just beware the flowers are less than fragrant.

    Plant it in full sun during the spring in cooler climates and in shadier areas during the fall in warmer regions. This is a slow-growing and long-lasting ground cover that simply needs pruning every so often to prevent it from growing leggy.

    • USDA Growing Zones:  3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, pink, lilac, red
    • Sun Exposure: Full and partial
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained
  • 18
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    The Spruce / David Beaulieu

    Vinca minor (commonly known as periwinkle) is a very popular ground cover because it’s drought-tolerant, pest-free, inexpensive, and easy to grow in just about any type of soil. This perennial creeper is a great ground cover that will quickly carpet your landscape with pretty and small flowers. It’s also used for ground cover to stop erosion because its tough roots hold soil in place. As lovely a ground cover as it seems, it’s also considered invasive and is toxic to pets.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Blue, lavender, purple, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial, shade
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, sandy, clay
  • 19
    of 25

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Though bugleweed’s deer-resistant flower spikes can’t be missed (they can grow 6 to 9 inches tall) this fast-growing perennial is a ground cover that has an aggressive creeping habit. Plant bugleweed in the late spring or early summer and it will quickly spread runners (stolons) that can form a dense mat to fill large and shady areas, especially where you need erosion control. However, keep it away from turf grass to avoid damage. Pruning it back can help keep rambunctious runners under control or set your mower to high and shear it back after it flowers in the summer.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Color Varieties: Blue, violet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained
  • 20
    of 25

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Though Chinese lantern is also considered invasive, it is a novel and colorful perennial ground cover with autumn interest because of its bright orange-red shaped seed pods that turn into papery husks. This is a highly invasive plant but it’s also popular for growing on huge swaths of areas that need ground cover and won’t encroach on another’s property. It’s also toxic to humans and pets.

    Plant in the late spring. Avoid planting Chinese lantern in garden beds and near turf grass. If you have bare acreage behind your home that does not lead to another property, Chinese lantern can be a great ground cover and filler.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Sun Exposure:  Full, partial
    • Soil Needs:  Moist, well-drained
  • 21
    of 25

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    Hostas are some of the happiest and hardiest perennial ground coverings you can grow. They thrive in or out of sunlight, and they seem to multiply on their own thanks to their rhizomatous roots. Planted along sloped pieces of land, it can neaten up the area while providing ground covering.

    Though pruning is not necessary, hostas will yellow and die back so trimming dead foliage can look better, especially in a small area.

    There are almost endless varieties of hostas that will fit your needs, many with variegated leaves and spikey short-lived and unremarkable flowers. Miniature hostas will grow less than 9 inches tall, small hostas grow to a foot or more, and giant hostas can grow over 30 inches tall. If you prefer a small hosta, opt for ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ that grows 6 to 12 inches high with round, heart-shaped blue-green leaves. Hostas are definitely not deer-resistant but they are toxic to other animals.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Color Varieties: White, purple, pink
    • Sun Exposure: Shade, partial
    • Soil Needs: Loamy, well-drained
  • 22
    of 25

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

    Creeping liriope plants make low-maintenance, tough, and drought-tolerant ground covers with spikey flowers and grass-like foliage. But they are not grasses, and are instead herbaceous flowering perennial plants in the asparagus family.  They’re also popular ground covers used to stop soil erosion.

    Plant liriope any time for quick growth and spreading. Just like other plants with the word «creeping» in the name, liriope can be considered aggressive and invasive in parts of the United States, from Virginia through to Mississippi. However, creeping ground coverings tend to spread the fastest.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 10
    • Color Varieties: Lavender, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
    • Soil Needs: Well-draining, sandy
  • 23
    of 25

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Pachysandra is one of the most widely used ground covers in the country thanks to its extreme durability while it grows under challenging conditions such as too much shade and drought. It also doesn’t die back in the winter. Instead, it keeps its leathery dark green leaves in nearly the same condition year round. Another bonus is that it is common and considered one of the cheapest ground covering plants.

    This is a deer- and rabbit-resistant ground cover that is ideal for large swaths of landscape. Pachysandra are aggressive and fast-spreading coverings that grow underground with runners. Though this is considered a flowering ground cover, it’s tiny white flowers are quite insignificant.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Sun Exposure: Partial, full shade
    • Soil Needs: Any type that’s well-draining
  • 24
    of 25

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    English ivy is considered an evergreen perennial covering, period. It can climb walls and grow across landscapes as unstoppable ground cover. Ivy is invasive and toxic to humans and animals but the charm it can lend to a yard can’t be beat.

    Plant ivy in the spring and you won’t need to maintain it at all. However, it will grow out of its boundaries so trimming it back can help if you want to keep the yard neat. Otherwise, no pruning is needed, and if you’re using it only for ground covering, watch that it does not grab hold of a tree bark or the siding of your house because its roots will dig in, making it hard to remove without damaging the surface.

    • USDA Growing Zones:  4 to 13
    • Sun Exposure: Part to full shade
    • Soil Needs: Fertile, moist
  • 25
    of 25

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

    Lamb’s ear creates a soft and silvery dense ground covering mat in a sunny area of your property. It’s low-maintenance because this drought-tolerant perennial grows beautifully in a xeriscape or rock garden. Plant this deer- and rabbit-resistant herb in the spring and its fuzzy leaves will cover large areas by autumn.

    The only issue to watch for is rotting leaves. Remove any obviously rotting plants, but it grows so fast you likely won’t even have to replace the plant. The plant dies back to the ground in the winter and comes out in the spring, but giving it a good shearing before winter will help keep the plants healthy.

    A favorite type is ‘Silver Carpet’ as it spreads easily, rarely flowers, and stays short at 4 to 6 inches tall.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4a to 9a
    • Sun Exposure: Full to partial
    • Soil Needs: Well-draining, evenly moist to dry soil

19 Best Flowering Ground Covers

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Lenten rose. ASPCA.

  2. Periwinkle. ASPCA Animal Control Center.

  3. Physalis. NC State University Cooperative Extension.

  4. Hosta. ASPCA.

  5. Hedera helix. North Carolina State Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox.

Inexpensive Landscaping Ideas for the Frugal Homeowner

by Dollar Stretcher Reader Contributors

Could your yard use a makeover? Frugal landscapers, gardeners and homeowners share their best tips for landscaping on the cheap. From cheap garden paths and walkways, to inexpensive ground cover ideas, to finding cheap or free plants, you can spruce up your yard with very little cash.

Has your front or backyard become overgrown? Sure, you can hire a landscape company to do the major clean up and tree trimming, but then what? You could end up with a dirt yard that is in desperate need of landscaping.

What options do you have for landscaping on a budget, especially when you have little grass and mostly weeds and dirt? What makes a good inexpensive ground cover for covering that dirt? How about a nice pathway? Sure all of these things could end up being pretty expensive. Or you can try some of these inexpensive landscaping ideas from fellow frugal landscapers and gardeners to create a beautifully landscaped yard both you and your budget will love.

Create a Homemade Path for Free

I recently made a stepping-stone path in our yard, absolutely free. First, I measured the area and estimated how many “steps” I’d need. Then, I drove around to various construction sites in our area. Wherever I’d see broken-up chunks of concrete, I’d stop and ask if I could take a few of the smaller pieces. I looked for pieces that had a flat side, and were roughly about a foot square. Within three days, I had enough chunks to start my project!

Next, I laid the chunks out in the desired path. For each one I dug about two feet down, so that the flat top is flush with the ground. It takes a little patience to get each step level, but the results are rewarding. I finished the edges of my new path off with pea gravel and sprinkled it with pretty marbles and colored stones. Now I get comments all the time on my lovely, homemade path. Similar landscape rocks and stones cost around $2 to $3 each, so I saved about $60!

Seek Out Free Plants and Landscaping Services

  1. A friend of mine lives on a very busy corner. She needed landscaping done and called a new company that had left a flyer on her door. They offered organic landscaping services. She offered to let them put a sign in her yard in exchange for free service. They agreed and did her yard. Now they are getting more business than ever as a result of being able to use her yard as an example. This works especially well for companies that are first starting out and need referrals.
  2. Drive by houses that are having construction or renovation done. I have found perfectly good rose bushes on the curb because the owner didn’t want to care for plants that needed a lot of maintenance.
  3. When I go to yard sales, I frequently see unusual plants in seller’s yards. I will admire the plant and ask where they bought it, or ask if I can buy a root cutting, etc. Most people are so flattered at the compliment that they will give me the cutting rather than charge anything. I always remember to carry a plastic bag and a few gardening tools in the car, so I don’t have to inconvenience them while they are tending their yard sale.
  4. Nurseries will sell dying or broken plants at a discount (or when they are getting in new stock). Ask them to give you a deal on quantity or anything that is likely to be thrown out. Don’t forget to check with them at the end of the season when the planting season is over. You can find the best deals then.


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Take a Slow, But Steady Approach

A great way to make a path is to use newspaper mulch. I saved all of our newspapers for a couple of months and called the local tree trimming company to deliver wood chips. They love to get rid of the chips. I made a path with the newspapers and then I spread the mulch. The paper helps to prevent weeds. The next year, I began buying stones to place in the middle of the mulch to make it look even better and also easier to walk on. I bought two cheap landscape stones per week. Now, it looks like a foot path on a hiking trail.

Related: Free and Extremely Cheap Sources of Mulch for Your Yard and Garden

Learn Smart Landscaping Hacks from Fellow Frugal Gardeners

For cheap landscaping, get to know someone in your area who has a beautifully landscaped yard and ask a lot of questions. Most people with mature gardens have tons of plants to give away free for the digging. My friend is starting up a cottage garden and I gave her about 25 plants that I dug up from my garden and I have more she can dig up when she is ready. She is saving a least $100 in plants. A mature garden needs to be thinned out sometimes.

For a cheap pathway, you can use plain cement pavers with a cheap ground cover grown in between. I made a patio area with two different colors in a checkerboard pattern and put “snow in summer” in between. I also saw a beautiful path in a book made up of broken up driveway cement. They laid it down like flagstone and had the same effect without the expense.

As far as cheap ground cover ideas, it will make a difference where you live, what kind of sun you get and what kind of moisture. That’s where a knowledgeable neighbor will come in handy. Also, visit a local nursery and ask a lot of questions. They can let you know what works and what doesn’t work. Otherwise, you can kill a lot of plants putting them in the wrong place. For the best look with plants, plant multiples of the same plant together to get a mass of one color.

Hold a Garden-Themed Housewarming Party

When you move into a new home, hold a simple housewarming party with a garden theme. On the invitation say, “No gifts please, but we’d love to have your garden cuttings or transplants!” People won’t feel obligated, but instead, they will feel good about being able to share their horticultural wealth. (Plus, it gives them the needed “push” to divide the plants they’d been meaning to anyway!) When I moved into my house as a single mom, I received hostas, a climbing mandevilla and some daylilies this way!
Glenda W. in Elmhurst, IL

Freecycle Your Way to a Great Garden

What a wonderful opportunity you have to create a beautiful landscape. First of all, I would suggest visiting your local library to learn about landscaping design, including different types of materials and plants that would work well in your area. Also, join your local “freecycling” group and let them know you’re looking for landscaping materials and plants. I have had wonderful experiences with my local freecycle group and have even joined a local plant-trading group! As a gardener, I think that we are by nature generous sorts who love to share our plants! Good luck and remember to enjoy this creative process!

Related: Repurposing Items for Your Garden and Outdoor Living Space

Take Advantage of Local Resources

Here are a few tips for landscaping on a budget:

  1. Check out the landscaping and gardens of friends and family. This will give you some good ideas of things that could be easily replicated in your own yard. While they are showing you their yards and gardens, ask them if you could have some starts off of their plants. Most people are only too willing to help you out with starts of plants.
  2. Buy your gravel or landscaping stones from a quarry instead of a department store.
  3. Check with the city or county you live in to see if they have a free mulch or compost site. Many towns have these and are glad to get rid of it.
  4. Lay old newspapers on the ground, several layers thick, for weed block. Make sure that you cover the newspapers right away with mulch or landscaping rock, so they don’t blow away.
  5. Check out garage sales. Several times, I have found gardening tools, landscaping edging, plants, etc. for pennies on the dollar of what it would cost to buy at the store.
  6. Check with your local cement company. Many times people order too much cement for a job and then the company has to get rid of the excess somewhere. In our area, if you take in the forms you want poured for stepping stones, the cement company will pour these for free and when they have dried you can go back and pick them up.


Related: Affordable Alternatives to a Grass Lawn

Seek Good Advice from Local Your Local Garden Club

One of the best resources for inexpensive landscaping ideas is a local garden club or horticulture society. Often they have perennial sales with great prices, and they can offer a wealth of ideas. I have also contacted a local vocational school for assistance. Many times the students are more than eager to help out and share their knowledge. We are fortunate in our area to have an excellent nature program associated with our public schools (beginning in kindergarten), and the knowledge base is priceless!
Cathy in Loveland, OH

Find Cheap Options Now That Can Provide Free Resources Later

Start by choosing areas you want to keep as garden beds. Remove any weeds by tilling/pulling and cover with a healthy bed of mulch. Four to five inches thick will keep weeds at a minimum. You can obtain tons of free mulch at the local compost site. Call the city for details.

For stepping stones, or a mosaic walkway, contact a concrete contractor and tell them you are interested in the broken remains of concrete sidewalks or driveways they remove. They will be happy to let you take some, as they have to pay for the removal. Arrange the concrete pieces as you like and dig them in, smooth side up, flush with the ground. Then buy a gallon of concrete stain from a home remodel center and stain the part of concrete that is showing. For a more natural look, get two similar terracotta colors and brush randomly on each stone.

A great cheap ground cover for walkway areas is creeping phlox. This plant can be easily divided, so you can start with one plant, and in a year or two, you will have more than enough. For free perennials, check online for a plant exchange group in your area. For low cost bushes and plants, wait until the greenhouses in your area are closing for the season. Shop several of them on a daily basis. You can pick up plants/bushes for as little as $1 each toward the end. Arrange the perennials in your planting bed as you like. You can always move them around next year if you don’t like the arrangement. Some books from the library can help you decide how to plant your gardens.

For your lawn, your best bet is Menards or Fleet Farm. On a yearly basis, around June/July, Menards will offer four to six bags of their own brand of weed-n-feed and grass seed for free after rebate. Do this every year, and soon you will have a lush green lawn. This method can take a few years to culminate, but the price is right. And I guarantee you will be happy with the result.


  • Cheap and Free Sources for Landscaping Materials
  • 3 Inexpensive Outdoor Home Projects Using Building Material Seconds
  • DIY Landscaping for Less
  • 8 Ways to Landscape on a Budget
  • 12 Frugal Landscape Tips for Filling Your Yard with Plants

Reviewed June 2022

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Ground cover plants, herbaceous perennials, ground cover shrubs.

Home &nbsp / &nbspServices &nbsp / &nbspLandscape design &nbsp / &nbspLandscaping &nbsp / &nbspGround cover plants

Since ancient times, people have wanted to live in beauty and in harmony with the environment, which later formed the main motive of landscape design, which turned into an attempt to imitate wildlife on the site.

Today, most people have begun to give their preference to landscape, rural and oriental styles, which suggest the presence of many plants. Recently, ground cover plants , which are characterized by unpretentious care and rapidly growing, have become increasingly popular for landscaping the territory, covering the area with fancy carpets of leaves and beautiful flowers.

Ground cover plants have many advantages over regular lawn plants.

  1. All ground covers have the ability to grow quickly and suppress the growth of unnecessary weeds.
  2. All types of creeping plants on the ground do not require careful care, do not need frequent pruning, top dressing and watering.
  3. A wide selection allows them to fit into any landscape style, from the unpretentious landscape to the strict Chinese direction, suggesting the presence of a monochrome color scheme.
  4. Ground cover plants thrive in both full sun and shade and can be a great alternative to a conservative lawn under trees.
  5. These plants grow excellently on slopes where turf crops do not always germinate and hold.
  6. The lawn of these plants will always look attractive without any extra effort, while ordinary lawn plants need to be carefully and often cut.

Ground cover species and habitats

Shade-tolerant ground cover plants

Ground cover plants, unlike capricious lawn counterparts, are able to grow in the shade, forming a living carpet. For damp soil in dark places, ivy-shaped boudra, hoof, common gout, lilies of the valley and Indian dyushene are perfect. Many of these plants are among the ampelous ones, so they will fit perfectly into any complex composition of landscape design. For rural style, violet is suitable, which can be planted at the roots of trees. For lovers of bright colors, today a lot of plants with variegated leaves are offered: common gout, small periwinkle, clear-headed and creeping tenacious.

Herbaceous perennials

In home gardens in a landscape style, suggesting a certain unpretentiousness and as close as possible to wildlife, it is best to plant evergreen perennials of the ground cover type, which will quickly multiply by division or cuttings. In open areas of the site with aggressive exposure to sunlight, plants often lose color, so roseum, tricolor, deltoid or blue carnation, stonecrop will take root here.

Evergreen ground cover plants

To create an evergreen carpet, you can give your preference to pachysandra apical, which will please the owner of the garden not only with juicy foliage, but also with its flowering. For the implementation of Japanese motifs in the garden, bryozoan is perfect, which entangles the ground like moss, which makes it possible for it to grow between gaps in rocky paths. In order for the garden to amaze with its beauty in spring and autumn, you can plant cotoneasters, which are distinguished by violent spring flowering, and in autumn the foliage of these plants turns a bright orange hue.

Ground cover shrubs

These plants are most often used to strengthen slopes, but also have an ornamental value. Preference is given to those types of plants that are distinguished by a powerful root system with active shoots. These include: Russian dereza, fragrant raspberry, Chinese blackberry, lilac, irgu, blackthorn and hawthorn. Using these ground cover shrubs, you can also create a hedge that will protect the site from the ingress of dust from the road.

Using ground cover plants to create landscape design forms

One of the most common and beloved landscape forms is the alpine hill, which can be easily created by planting ground cover plants. By choosing matching types, you can make whimsical compositions that will decorate the garden with their own color in winter. With the help of an alpine slide, the monochromatic static of coniferous perennials is diluted, giving the site a liveliness of colors and a variety of shades.

It is impossible to imagine any rockery without planting ground cover perennials. Based on the preferences of the garden owner, rockeries can be full of bright colors or be a monochromatic composition of small coniferous plants.

Raised flower beds and retaining walls (pictured) can also be diversified with ground cover plants by planting them at the edges. As the plants grow, the stems and branches will fall down, forming living, leafy waterfalls, allowing the hard stone texture to be diluted with a natural element. The falling cotoneaster vines (undersized creeping forms), Fortune’s euonymus (undersized forms) look great on the retaining wall. Of the coniferous plants on the retaining wall, junipers, tueviki, cypress trees look good. Like the listed shrubs, creeping herbaceous plants also do not require special care and are quite unpretentious.

Landscaping of the territory

The art of landscaping a territory is a very special section of landscape design, which has absorbed all the experience of arts and crafts and archiving

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Flower beds and mixborders

Flowers are the main decoration of the garden. Basically, flower beds are divided into those created from perennial or annual (biennial) flowers. Flower bed of perennials

Read more

Flower beds from undersized plants

Low-growing ornamental plants are always welcome guests in the garden. They can be used to make a picturesque edging for a multi-level flower garden, made

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Landscaping photos

Visit the «Landscape design photos» section. The section presents photographs of different stages of landscape work, photographs of landscaping and landscaping of private and urban areas.

Container gardening: growing plants in containers for landscaping

If you didn’t have time to plant a flower bed in May or June… If the plants on the previous one died without care while you were on vacation… If you don’t want to postpone life “for the next year ”, and your own dacha appeared just the other day . .. It doesn’t matter: you have half of summer and the beginning of autumn at your disposal (September is usually warm even in our climate). I’ll tell you how to quickly pick up plants, plant flowers in a pot correctly and create a potted garden in a matter of days.

I foresee the objections of skeptics that all this is not for our life, it is too beautiful, expensive, troublesome — you can continue the list yourself. But you can start with the simplest and move gradually.

Glenna Partridge Garden Design

There are two strategies: get new planters when you go to buy plants, or start from existing containers.

Please note that the size of the container has a direct effect on the health of the plants. So, the diameter determines the number of seedlings that can be planted at the same time. It is also critical for plants with shallow roots.

Taproot plants, on the other hand, like deep pots and do not tolerate transplanting. These are, for example, lupins ( Lupinus ), aquilegia ( Aquilegia ), bluebells ( Campanula ), mallows ( Malva ), euphorbia ( Euphorbia ), eryngium ( 9009 6 Eryngium planum) . They can be grown by sowing seeds directly in a planter, or purchased from a garden center already grown. As a last resort, tap root plants can be planted in early spring, but now, in midsummer, they may not survive the “relocation”.

To properly plant flowers in outdoor planters, please note that the depth of the containers should be as follows:

  • 30 cm or more suitable for annuals;
  • depth from 45 cm — for perennials;
  • from 60 cm — for shrubs;
  • from 90 cm — for dwarf trees.

Plant Root System: Why Understanding It Is Important

Le jardinet

In the photo: an example of a wide container with a small depth. Euphorbia Diamond Frost, Yellow Lantana (Lantana camara), Ipomoea batatas and White Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) planted

Sweet Dirt Designs

Tip: 90 090 Instead of a container, you can use the old tub, barrel or wooden box (some solutions can look quite impressive). A dried tub that is no longer good for anything else can become a planter for room tradescantia ( Tradescantia ) and dwarf conifers. Conifers in our conditions are best planted in a technical pot, so that later they can be dug in the garden for the winter.

McCullough’s Landscape & Nursery

In the photo: Ipomoea sweet potato series «Illusion «, variety «And emerald lace» ( Ipomaea batatas Illusion Emerald Lace ( Plectranthus Silver Shield) Mona Lavender ( Plectranthus Mona Lavender Supertunia White Russian

By the way: The wooden crate can be used as a planting container (and then the inside should be lined with foil). If the gaps in the boards are very large, plants can be planted in them, in this case, the film is laid only in the lower part. In addition, such boxes look good as decorative pots for technical pots.

Safety measures: For a garden on a balcony, it is necessary to monitor the weight of the pots and the reliability of their fastening.

Sylvan Gardens Landscape Contractors

In the photo: lush coleus (Coleus), blue carnation (Dianthus), mint (Mentha) and blue surfinia (Surfinia) winter storage pots. In the case of conifers and other evergreen perennials, you need a bright, cool, frost-free room. Another prerequisite for such plants is not to dry out, but also not to flood the soil. Deciduous trees and shrubs, as well as perennials with aerial parts dying off for the winter, can also be stored in the dark.

Empty containers can be left to winter outside, but in this case you will have to buy special «outdoor» containers that can withstand repeated freeze-thaw cycles.

The larger the pot, the more difficult it is to move. I advise you to immediately invest in some devices like coasters on wheels. Or purchase a special cart for pots — even a fragile woman can handle it.

How to choose: Planters who are ready to live on the street and not complain

KMS Gardens and Design

Ask yourself a few questions.

#1. What part of the garden or house do I want to decorate? Shady or sunny, in front of the house or backyard?.. The choice of plants will depend on this. There are sun-loving plants — for example, marigolds (Tagetes erecta) , celosia (Celosia), coleus, succulents ( Succulentu s). There are those who like partial shade: basically, these are perennials. Not bad tolerate light penumbra and petunias (Petunia) although they also prefer the sun. There are noticeably fewer plants that grow well in the shade: these are ferns (Dryopteris) , bought ( Polygonatum odoratum ), hostas ( Hosta ), balsams ( Impatiens ).

Confusing «environment» is very dangerous. Plants for the sun will wither in the shade, and for the shade they will burn in the sun, so nothing good will come of it. There is such a way out: to have several different pots with plants for partial shade or even for the sun and put them alternately for a while in the shade. But the «shadow» plants should not be placed in a sunny place.

Westover Landscape Design

Pictured: Small Clematis will do well in pots if they are well supported and shaded underneath. Dwarf pansies (Viola wittrockiana) do a good job with this

The Contained Garden

Photo: large-flowered tuberous begonia (Begonia), coleus and ampelous dwarf jasmine (Jasminum). Composition for bright terrace

KMS Gardens and Design

In the photo: lush small-leaved coleus (Plectranthus) Blume, salmon begonias and pink balsams are enlivened from below by the bright green of loosestrife (Lysimachia nummularia). Composition for the east side of the house, suitable for decorating a window or balcony

Olander Garden Design

#2. What color scheme do I like and which one is suitable for this place? This will help determine the environment and your mood. Choose plants depending on the style of construction, the color of the walls, roof, furniture, textiles or pot.

Pay attention to the photo: it would seem that such a bright wall does not need decorations. But bright colors are also easy to get tired of. The eye will rest on the color-harmonious composition of cylindrical emperor (Imperata Cylindrica), gazania (Gazania rigens) , coleus, sweet morning glory, fuchsia (Fuchsia) and decorative pepper (Capsicum). All this can be bought in the nearest garden hypermarket.

Tina M. Yotka — Container Gardens Extraordinaire

#3. What indoor plants can I walk and how can I supplement them? Almost all indoor flowers can be displayed on a balcony or terrace — simply individually in pots or in compositions with summer additions. Please note that for the first time (7-10 days), indoor plants need to be shaded so that the transition is not too abrupt for them.

For example, in the planter in the photo there is a beautiful indoor alocasia ( Alocasia ), several balsam bushes and a spectacular vase. What else is needed to decorate the entrance to the house in light partial shade?

Olander Garden Design

In the photo: Fatsia (Fatsia) will gladly go out for a walk in a semi-shady place on the terrace in the company of cyclamens (Cyclamen) and ivy (Hedera helix). Both are now on sale at Leroy Merlin

Steve Masley Consulting and Design

By the way: It’s not too late to start a balcony garden. Sow or buy salad and aromatic herbs in a regular store. Add hydrogel to pots or use LECHUZA ready-made soil. If you don’t have much time, a LECHUZA planter with automatic watering or a drip irrigation system for balconies will help. If you sow grass seeds, and your balcony is in the sun, then it is better to shade them for a while with non-woven material. You need to remove it gradually, first in the evenings and in cloudy weather.

Scott Byron & Co., Inc.

The photo: A charming composition for partial shade from indoor spathiphyllum (Spathiphyllum), Balsamins, Poyshchi and Asparagus (Asparagus) will feel great on the light window

Bliss Garden Design, LLC

in the photo: very beautiful mountains: very beautiful mountain shock , the basis of the composition in which are cereals — first of all, pennisetum (pinnate bristles) leaf-tailed «Faervok» (Pennisetum alopecuroides Firework)

Bliss Garden Design, LLC

Pictured: unadorned spectacular planters with a single plant look good in pairs. The secret to this simple composition for shade is in well-matched pots. Fern and hosta can be dug up with a clod in the garden

#4. What perennials from the garden can be transplanted into pots? Hostas, ferns, daylilies are well suited for this role ( Hemerocallis ), brunners ( Brunnera ), astilbes (Astilbe) , anemones (Anemone) , geucheras ( Heuchera ), mint, lemon balm ( 9009 6 Melissa) , lavender (Lavandula), hellebore ( Helleborus ), survivors (Ajuga) , speedwells (Veronica) , sage (Salvia officinalis). By the way, I often use extra divisions of perennials for such plantings. In addition, all this can be bought at any garden center that sells plants with a closed root system (ZKS).

Schmechtig Landscapes

Note: Motley company for the sun. Tradescantia ( Tradescantia ), yellow loosestrife, spurge ( Euphorbia) , zinnia (Zinnia) and verbena (Verbena). Tradescantia probably grows on your mother’s windowsill, loosestrife and spurge can be dug up in the garden, and zinnia and verbena can be bought in the store.

Le jardinet

#5. What annuals can I buy in the store? Now almost everything is available: like the usual coleus, petunias, balsams, marigolds, verbena, celosia ( Celosia ), cyclamens ( Cyclamen ), as well as newfangled morning glory sweet potato, dichondra ( Dichondra ) and bacopa (Bacopa ). I must say that these plants can be bought not only in specialized garden centers, but also in the usual «Auchan», «OBI» or «Leroy Merlin».

By the way: The pot garden allows you to grow things that for some reason cannot be planted in the ground. For example, if the soil in your garden is not suitable for blueberries, you can grow them in a container, and now is the time to go to the garden center to get them. Just make sure you have room for winter storage or the ability to dig in a large planter in the garden.

Garden Stories

This spectacular composition is perfect for light penumbra and is collected literally from the world by thread: indoor syngonium (Syngonium) is the soloist in the company of variegated hosta and ferns dug up from the nearest flower bed. White begonia, dwarf jasmine, loosestrife Aurea (Lysimachia nummularia Aurea) and ampelous columna (Columnea) with red flowers can be bought at any garden store.

Glenna Partridge Garden Design

In the photo: beautiful Asplenium scolopendrium (Asplenium scolopendrium) in the company of white tuberous begonias and silver dichondra

pots, follow the same principles as when creating mixborder, only adjusted for the size of the container. Namely:

  • Tall plants — placed at the back (in the case of a one-sided composition) or in the center of the container;
  • More undersized — in the middle tier and in the middle, around the main plant;
  • Ground cover and ampelous — at the edge of the container.

CSDesign llc

Please note: Golden planter highlights a dramatic composition of cirrus, mimosa pudica (Mimosa pudica) , gaura (Bos gaurus) 9 0097 , bacopa and sweet potato. You will be surprised, but in the fall, when the leaves dry up, you can dig out a dozen tubers of “sweet potatoes” from the pot.

Pot Incorporated

Together or apart? Planting plants in pots requires a competent selection of companions: this is necessary so that some plants do not oppress others. Firstly, these should be plants with similar requirements for light, top dressing, and watering. Secondly, they must have a root system that is compatible in size. If you are not sure that you can correctly select companion plants, seek the advice of a specialist.

50 ready-made schemes for planting in summer flowerpots

Elena Bykova landscape architect mi dichondra, they look even better

As an option, plants can be planted in their own pots in a common planter. Then the difference in requirements for soil, watering and top dressing is no longer as critical as when planting together in a common container. And plants that have lost their decorative effect can be quickly replaced without disturbing the rest. You can disguise technological pots with earth or moss. This option is suitable for compositions that are supposed to be changed during the season: otherwise the roots will sprout into a common pot.

Kenneth Philp Landscape Architects

#1. Planting flowers in a pot begins with drainage . This is the first and mandatory item for any device and type of container. Without drainage, water will stagnate in the ground, plants will get sick, or even die. Expanded clay, pebbles, broken shards, pieces of foam, etc. can be used as drainage.

Pamela Crawford & Associates

  • Tall pots can tip over in strong winds. Therefore, instead of the usual drainage, they need weighting (especially if the pot itself is light). It can be heavy stones or broken shards at the bottom.
  • Large and/or tall pots are very showy and beautiful in their own right. But it is not at all necessary to completely fill them with soil, unless, of course, you plant trees. Firstly, it is expensive, secondly, it significantly increases their weight, and thirdly, not all plants need an excessive amount of land (some, for example, will not bloom until they fill the entire volume with roots). You can win big by filling most of the pot with drainage from empty plastic bottles, Styrofoam, or milk bags.
  • The most affordable and cheapest material for retaining moisture, improving the mechanical composition of the soil and lightening the weight of the pot is expanded clay of various fractions. But we must remember that expanded clay gives an alkaline reaction and is poorly suited for plants that need acidic soils. In this case, hydrogel, perlite, vermiculite or professional ready-made primers, for example, from LECHUZA, will help you.

debora carl landscape design

In the photo: an unpretentious composition of cereals and dichondra

#2. Further, the scheme for planting flowers in a flowerpot is as follows: we fill in the soil, place the main plants (you can directly in technological pots), cover them a little with earth, plant filler plants and water well.

#3. If you are using plants that you have just bought make sure they are not growing in the shipping substrate. If this is the case, then it is imperative to disassemble the lump and remove the picking pots (they are very small and tightly fit the root system: plants are bred in them in nurseries).

Westover Landscape Design

Photo of a potted hydrangea gaining strength to bloom with annuals

What is a shipping substrate? This is a weathered peat, whitish and very light. By the way, absolutely all potted imported plants grow in a transport substrate: according to the law, the earth cannot be transported across the border.

These plants should be transplanted into a suitable nutrient medium, either directly in a container or in a processing pot. It is impossible to simply transfer a seedling into a large pot with fertile soil, because the compacted transport soil at the roots will create a greenhouse effect and the roots may rot. At the same time, flowering bulbs can not be touched, but simply wait until the end of flowering and then take out and dry the bulbs.

KMS Gardens and Design

  • Planters (except succulents) will need to be watered frequently: in hot weather up to 2-3 times a day. To reduce the need for frequent watering, mix hydrogel, semiramis, perlite or vermiculite into the soil. All of these materials are also suitable for mulching or mixing with the topsoil — this helps to delay the evaporation of moisture: the earth will remain moist and loose longer.
  • Frequent watering contributes to increased leaching of nutrients, which in a limited space of the container are already running out so quickly, so that your plantings will require mandatory top dressing.
  • Don’t go overboard with nitrogen fertilizers so that the plants don’t get too fat at the expense of flowering.