Shrubs and Ground Covers

Sedum (Stonecrop)


Most sedums are a sprawling ground cover forming a foliage mat 4-10in tall, spreading by trailing stems to 15in or more. They feature shiny, bright green leaves (1.5" long) that form rosettes at the ends of stems climbing to 10in tall. Clusters of star shaped yellow flowers appear in summer.

Sesleria autumnalis (Autumn Moor Grass)


Autumn Moor Grass is a cool season, clumping ornamental grass that grows 8-12" tall with  narrow flower spikes that get 18" tall in the summer. Flowers are a silvery-white color in autumn. Attractive, narrow, yellow-green foliage.


Spirea are comprised of nearly 100 species of flowering shrubs. These shrubs are hardy deciduous shrubs with simple leaves that have softly toothed margins. The tiny pink or white flowers that have five petals are usually in dense clusters and form off new growth. Flowers bloom in late spring and early summer and sporadically throughout the rest over the summer. New growth can vary in color ranging from yellow orange to a burgundy red maturing into a medium green. 4-6ft tall and wide.

Sporobolus heterolepis (Dropseed)


Dropseed is a warm season, fine-textured, clump-forming grass that has medium green leaves typically form an arching clump 15” tall and 18” wide. Foliage turns gold with orange hues in autumn, fading into a light bronze color in the winter. Open flower panicles appear on thin stems that shoot up well above the foliage in late summer (30-36" tall). Flowers are pale pink with brown tints and are most noted for their unique fragrance. Small, round mature seeds drop to the ground from their hulls in autumn.

Stachys byzantine (Lamb's Ear)


Lamb's ears are grown for its thick, suede-like, silver-gray leaves which typically form a rapidly spreading mat approximately 4-6" tall. Runners spread the dense, woolly, gray green leaves that have a tongue shape. Leaf shape and texture resemble a lamb's ear, hence the common name. Semi-evergreen leaves will depreciate considerably in harsh winters and will burn if they are in too much sun. Small-leaved flowering stems with spikes of insignificant, purplish-pink flowers appear in summer rising above the foliage 10-15" tall. Many gardeners will remove the flowering stems to promote a denser ground cover effect.

Stipa tenuissima (Mexican Feather Grass)


Mexican Feather Grass is an exceptionally lovely and graceful ornamental grass that has silvery-green thread like leaves in late spring, that sways in the slightest breeze, delicately softening any landscape that it is put into. All summer it bears feathery panicles that are held just above the foliage. Drought, deer and rabbit tolerant. Self-sowing.

Syringa (Lilac)

Common lilac is an upright, multi-stemmed, suckering, deciduous shrub that matures to 12-16ft tall and 8-12ft wide if they are left alone, they can reach 20ft tall and 15ft wide. It is renowned for its mid to late spring blooming of sweet-scented, 4-lobed, tubular flower that come in lilac, pink, white or purple flowers which bloom in large cone shaped panicles (6-8” long). Flowers give way to lose clusters of smooth, flattened, brown, seed capsules (each 3/ 4” long) which will keep into winter if not removed. Pointed oval to heart shaped leaves (2-5” long) are dark green to gray green. No fall colors. Bark is gray to gray brown.

Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae)

Arborvitae is a dense, narrow-pyramidal to conical, evergreen, usually a single-trunked tree. Most Arborvitae are trees and will get 40-60ft tall over time, but in typically they grow 20-30' tall. Scale-like, bright yellowish green to medium green, aromatic foliage appears in flat sprays. Reddish brown bark will start to peel on mature branches and trunks.

Smaragd -

is a semi-dwarf variety that has a compact, narrow pyramidal habit with bright green, scale-like leaves that are in flat sprays. Vase shaped cones (1/2" long) that mature in autumn to reddish brown. Usually these arborvitaes are used as screens because they only get 7-15ft tall and spread 3-4ft wide. This variety is also known as 'Emerald Green' or 'Emerald'.

Thymus (Creeping Thyme)


Creeping thyme is one of the easiest groundcovers to grow and has a lovely smell when walked on. Wild thyme, creeping thyme or mother-of-thyme is a hairy, creeping, woody-based perennial which is grown as an ornamental ground cover. Although leaves are aromatic (fragrance of mint), the strength of fragrance varies immensely according to season and growth habitat; creeping thyme is almost never used in cooking because if its fuzzy leaves that don’t taste as good as they smell (Thymus vulgaris is the culinary thyme most commonly used in cooking). Thin, somewhat woody stems are clad with tiny, oval, fuzzy, almost, glossy blue-green leaves (1/4” long) form a dense, flat foliage mat to 2-3in tall that will spread (over time) by rooting stems to 12-18in. wide. Dense clusters of tiny, bell-shaped, two-lipped, pink to purple flowers appear in summer (June-September) on flowering stems rising 2-4in tall. Flowers are attractive to bees.

Trachelospermum (Jasmine)


Confederate jasmine or star jasmine is a gorgeous fast growing, flowering vine that has sweet, fragrant white flower in late spring and early summer. Its lustrous, dark green leaves are a wonderful accent to the white blooms and provide interest, even when it is out of bloom. Confederate jasmine can be grown on a trellis, vines can grow 20ft long and 3-5ft wide or left on the ground to make a lovely weed smothering groundcover. These plants are an excellent choice for covering a fence for privacy or as a gorgeous backdrop.

Verbena canadensis (Homestead Verbena)


Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’ is a vigorous low growing perennial that gets 6-12” tall and 2-3ft wide.  Leaves have scalloped edges and are arranged on opposite sides of trailing stems. These ground covers have elongated clusters of spikey, tubular, dark purple flowers that bloom from spring until autumn. Each flower cluster is about 3” long and is filled with ½” wide fragrant florets. Stems of the plant are fuzzy and will root once they touch the ground. Semi-evergreen to evergreen.


There are over 150 species of viburnum, as well as numerous cultivars. Viburnums are deciduous or evergreen and can be anywhere from 2ft shrubs to 30ft trees. They can produce flowers that are extremely fragrant and some that are horrible smelling.

‘Koreanspice’ (Viburnum carlesii) –

Very spicy-sweet, pink blooms with vigorous growth; the Koreanspice viburnum is one of the best choices for springtime fragrance rivaling that of winter daphne. This deer resistant shrub can get 5-6ft tall and wide, but there are smaller varieties that only reach 3-4ft tall and wide. Fall brings a gorgeous display of bright red foliage.

‘American Cranberry’ (Viburnum opulus) –

American cranberry viburnum gets 8-10ft tall and wide there are several compact varieties that only reach 5-6ft tall and wide. Flat white flowers cover this plant in the spring and following the flowers comes edible tasty red fruits that ripen in the fall.

‘Arrowwood’ (Viburnum dentatum) –

Arrowwood viburnums are an upright, multi stemmed, deciduous shrub that gets 6-15ft tall and 5-12ft wide. Non-fragrant white flowers give way to dark blue to black fruits. Egg shaped, serrated, glossy dark green leaves (4" long). Fall color can be dull yellow to brilliant shades of orange and red.

‘Burkwood’ (Viburnum × burkwoodii) –

Burkwood viburnum is a multi-stemmed shrub that is densely branched growing 8-10ft tall and 5-7ft wide. Oval, glossy dark green leaves (4" long) turn maroon in fall. It produces white, fragrant flowers in flat clusters; following the flowers red berries appear and will ripen to black in late summer to early fall.

‘Doublefile’ (Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum) –

Doublefile is a multi-stemmed, dense, upright, deciduous shrub that typically matures to 8-15ft tall and 10-15ft wide. Oval, serrated, strongly-veined, dark green leaves (4” long) that have pleated upper surfaces. Leaves turn burgundy to a reddish purple in fall. It produces large white flower clusters.

‘Snowball’ (Viburnum opulus 'Roseum') –

'Roseum’ is a sterile cultivar (so it doesn’t get the cranberry-like fruit) that produces 3” pom-pom-like globular clusters (snowballs) of completely sterile white flowers that bloom in May. Flowers will get a light rose blushing as they fade. Plants grow 10-12ft tall and 8-10ft wide that makes it have a rounded form. Sugar-maple like leaves are green that will become orange red in fall. This plant is often confused with snowball hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla).

'Davidii' (Viburnum Davidii) -

The Davidii viburnum is an evergreen shrub that gets 2-3ft tall and 3-4ft wide. It has small white flowers in rounded clusters that bloom in spring. Fertilized female flowers give way to round green fruits slowly changing to a pinkish-red and eventually turn a metallic blue as they ripen. Fruits usually stay on the shrub into winter. Fruits are loved by birds.

Vinca minor (Periwinkle)


Vinca minor, vinca or periwinkle is an evergreen perennial that will withstand almost any kind of growing conditions; they prefer afternoon shade. This is one of the most popular ground covers. The trailing stems are smooth with dark green leaves (1.5" long) that root at the nodes as they creep along the ground and quickly spread to form an attractive ground cover. Lavender blue flowers are tubular with 5 petals (1 inch across) appearing on the leaf axils in spring and continue to flower sparsely throughout summer into fall. Plants will mound up to 6" tall.


Weigela is a deciduous, densely foliated with a rounded growing habit. It will grow 6-10ft tall and up to 12ft wide. There are some more dwarfed varieties that only get 4-5ft tall and wide. Mature plants will usually have arching branches. Tubular, light pink to dark pink flowers (each 1.25”) bloom profusely in the spring and can rebloom sparsely throughout the rest of summer. The flowers are adored by bees and hummingbirds. Elongated leaves are green (4.5” long) with a toothed margin; they keep their color well throughout the entire growing season. Some cultivars have burgundy color, or they are variegated. Unimpressive fall color.