Mother Earth Living

Drought Tolerant Groundcovers

<strong>Note:</strong> While a plant may be labeled as “drought-tolerant,” this always describes the plant after it’s been established. New plantings require regular watering for a couple of months.</p>
<p>Sunny areas require extra ground coverage to keep moisture in the soil. These nine herbal groundcovers will thrive in hot areas while keeping moisture close to plant roots.</p>
<p>• <strong>Wooly yarrow</strong> (<em>Achillea tomentosa</em>). 10 inches tall and wide; Zones 3-8; pull your shoes off and let your feet enjoy. Yarrow does best in full sun.</p>
<p>• <strong>Persian catmint</strong> (<em>Nepeta racemosa</em>). 6 to 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide; Zones 4-8; gray-green leaves. Grows best in full sun.</p>
<p>• <strong>Creeping golden marjoram</strong> (<em>Origanum vulgare</em> ‘Aureum’). 6 inches tall; Zones 4-9; golden, bright foliage; white with pink bracts flowers in spring. Likes sun; leaves  will burn if the sun is too intense.</p>
<p>• <strong>Platinum sage</strong> (<em>Salvia daghestanica</em>). 8 to 10 inches tall; Zones 5-10; silvery leaves with blue flowers in spring. This is a lovely and unusual herb. Platinum sage is at its best in areas that receive half sun and half shade.</p>
<p>• <strong>Lamb’s ears</strong> (<em>Stachys byzantine and cultivars</em>). 12 to 18 inches tall and 2 feet wide; Zones 4-8; excellent for crowding out weeds; delightful in a children’s garden; plant it where you can stroke it as you walk by. Lamb’s ears grows well in full sun and partial shade.</p>
<p>• <strong>Wall germander</strong> (<em>Teucrium chamaedrys var. compactum</em>). 5 inches tall and 16 inches wide; Zones 5-9; lavender flowers; glossy, deep green leaves. This herb prefers a sunny spot in the yard.</p>
<p>• <strong>Wooly thyme</strong> (<em>Thymus pseudolanuginosus</em>). About 3 inches, spreads indefinitely; Zones 5-9; tiny tubular flowers; spills nicely over walls, pavers and stones. Thymes are sun-worshippers, but they’ll tolerate part shade.</p>
<p>• <strong>Creeping thyme</strong> (<em>T. serpyllum</em>). 6 inches tall and 18 inches wide; Zones 4-9; dark foliage; pink or lavender flowers. </p>
<p>• <strong>Periwinkle</strong> (<em>Vinca major</em> or <em>V. minor</em> and cultivars of both). Up to 12 inches tall and spreads indefinitely; Zones 4-9; excellent choice for sloping ground as it binds well to the soil; whorled purple flowers. This pretty groundcover thrives in shady or semi-shady areas.</p>
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<em>Chris McLaughlin’s book on composting,</em> The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Composting <em>(Alpha/Penguin, 2010), will be published in April.</em>
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<strong>5 Reasons to Plant Herbal Groundcovers</strong>

  • Published on Jan 8, 2010
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