This article was reviewed by Steve Snedeker, professional landscaper.
Many homeowners believe their hedges are the first or only line of defense for their landscaping. This isn't always the case, though. When you pair your hedges with low-light groundcover, maintaining your yard becomes simpler. So, we researched ideal plants for under your hedges.
The best groundcover to plant beneath your hedges includes:
- Bishop's hat
- Sweet woodruff
- False goat's beard
- Wild ginger
- Mondo grass
These groundcover plants flourish in low light and can help control weeds that might run rampant. The flowers on some of your groundcover options can also accent your hedge's beauty. Read on to learn how to benefit from groundcover's many perks.
What To Plant Under Hedges
Sometimes, it's difficult to determine what groundcover plants will work best with your hedges. After all, you have to consider more than the zone you're living in.
If you want flowering groundcover, you won't want to commit to decorative grasses or other low-lying plants. Alternatively, if you'd rather not draw the eye away from your hedges, flowering groundcover may be inconvenient.
Fortunately, there's more than one kind of groundcover suited for life under a hedge. Once you determine the zone you live in and what look you want to cultivate, you can invest in the groundcover that best suits your needs.
Today, the most popular hedge-friendly groundcover plants include:
Zones 2 through 6
Also known as cornus canadensis, bunchberry thrives in low-light environments. Gardeners refer to this plant as "creeping dogwood." This best describes the way the plant stays low to the ground, providing cover for any bare spots that might otherwise plague your hedges.
Typically bunchberry develops red berries alongside white flowers in the spring. For the rest of the year, xpect deep green leaves to flourish in the shade of your hedges.
While bunchberry might thrive out of sight, you won't have to worry about its well-being. Bunchberry is deer and rabbit resistant, making it the ideal deterrent if you're concerned about critters.
2. Bishop's Hat
Zones 5 through 8
At first glance, it's easy to mistake epimedium, or Bishop's Hat, for a dicentra. Where dicentras grow into full-fledged bushes, however, Bishop's Hat finds itself content beneath your hedges. This plant produces heart-shaped blooms in pinks, reds, yellows, and oranges.
Bishop's hat is not only a low-light plant, but it is also drought tolerant. If you live in a zone that doesn't see a lot of rain, you can count on Bishop's Hat to continue providing you with beautiful blooms throughout the spring and summer.
That said, you'll want to trim Bishop's Hat back come the fall. The green leaves should remain until the weather turns, but you may need to control the Bishop Hats' height for the best cohesion with your hedges.
3. Sweet Woodruff
Zones 4 through 8
Sweet woodruff, or galium odoratum, serves two purposes as ground cover beneath your hedges. This plant produces a sweet smell that doesn't attract deer or rabbits to your undergrowth.
What's more, it prevents unwanted weed growth, minimizing the maintenance you might otherwise have to do on your beds.
Also, sweet woodruff is a flowering plant. It produces white flowers during the spring and remains green through the fall. You may need to trim back your sweet woodruff throughout the year.
However, the full shade provided by your hedges should ensure it remains a well-kept inclusion in your beds.
4. False Goat's Beard
Zones 5 through 8
Are you looking for a bright blast of color to complement your hedges? False goat's beard, or astilbe biternata, offers you hot pink blooms for the better part of your zone's spring.
While the flowers will die off with the changing of the season, the intermixing of the hot pink blooms and your hedges makes for eye-catching beds.
False goat's beard is one of the taller forms of groundcover available to homeowners today. If you want to avoid too much intermingling, either invest in smaller false goat's beard plants or regularly trim back your undergrowth.
Do note that false's goat's beard is not resistant to deer or disease. As such, you'll need to keep a close eye on your hedges if you want to preserve their overall health.
Zones 5 through 9
Are you looking for a perennial to accent your hedges? Look no further than goldenstar, also known as chrysogonum virginianum. Goldenstar thrives when planted in full shade, displaying bright yellow blooms well into the summer.
That being said, the plant is slow-growing, so you'll have to be patient as it comes into itself.
Fortunately, goldenstar doesn't attract any unwanted pests and is disease resistant. The only visitors you're likely to get to your hedges may be pollinators. This means that your goldenstar is likely to flourish, as are any other flowering plants you host nearby.
6. Wild Ginger
Zones 4 through 8
Wild ginger isn't the same ginger that you can use in your kitchen. Instead, wild ginger smells the same as its kitchen-oriented cousin but confines itself to the shadows beneath your hedges.
Otherwise known as asarum, wild ginger produces green, purple, and white flowers throughout the earliest months of the year.
While its flowers may disappear as the weather warms, the protective opportunities that wild ginger offers aren't so seasonal. Wild ginger is deer-resistant, meaning that it's likely to keep unwanted critters away from your hedges.
Likewise, wild ginger's greenery lasts year-round. While you may need to winter this groundcover, you can trust it to keep unwanted growths out of your beds even as the weather changes.
7. Mondo Grass
Zones 6 through 10
If you're looking for a simple addition to your hedge landscaping, why not consider mondo grass? Mondo grass is a low-light groundcover that's also referred to as dwarf lily turf.
The plant doesn't resemble traditional grass so much as it resembles soft onion tops. Come spring, you can enjoy a light sprinkle of flowers ranging from pink to white.
Mondo grass can reach up to one foot in height but is accommodating when trimmed or otherwise maintained. This plant is also deer-resistant, so you won't have to contend with any unwanted critters after your initial planting.
Also, mondo grass is disease resistant. This means that it will stay safe from any conditions that might otherwise negatively impact your landscape's health. Similarly, it can protect your hedges from undue harm.
The Benefits of Cultivating Under-Hedge Plants
When you first establish your hedges, you might not think that the underside of your beds merits much attention. However, this is not the case.
Your hedges are only as healthy as their beds. You need to give your beds as much TLC as possible if you want your hedges to thrive.
Under-hedge plants can make caring for your beds all the simpler. The benefits of cultivating under-hedge plants can include:
A Natural Weed Barrier
While not all weeds have it out for your hedges, more than a few invasive species will happily choke out your landscaping staples. This is where under-hedge growths come into play.
All the aforementioned plants and flowers create a natural barrier between your hedges and wily weeds.
Not only do these barriers prevent unwanted weed growth, but they eliminate the need for you to use potentially-dangerous weedkillers. Certain weedkillers can harm more than just plants, after all.
If you're not careful, some weedkillers can get into your water supply and compromise your family's health.
Under-hedge flowers and groundcover allow you to avoid using weedkillers without sacrificing your landscaping to unchecked weed growth. This dual service makes exploring the groundcover best suited to your zone worth it.
Adding Color to Your Landscape
When you cultivate your landscaping, you increase your property's curb appeal and draw pollinators to your land. The economic value of a beautiful curb is one thing. However, the promise of annual growth courtesy of your local pollinators is another entirely.
The pop of color you subsequently add to your land, courtesy of your under-hedge growth, brings positive attention to your lawn. And the more you're able to encourage that attention with brightly colored undergrowth, the more opportunities your property has to reap the benefits.
Groundcover plants and flowers accentuate your hedges - but that's not all. When you pick the right groundcover to foster beneath your hedges, it's easier for you to maintain your landscaping.
Combine beautiful, flowering groundcover plants with your burgeoning row of hedges to beautify your lawn and make the maintenance of your property a little simpler.