Need Advice On Ground Cover

My yard is 50×38. I want to get rid of the grass. I live in a suburb off Chicago, IL. I want the yard to have ajuga as a ground cover. I want the light pole in the yard’s center to have a perennial silver plant around it like Dusty Miller. I want the border to be a perennial Sedum. I want the colors to complement the color of the ajuga. Please give me advice. How much should I order? It is my plan to desod (if that is a word) & remove the grass. Thanks, Lordora

Answer: Well, the design you have in mind will dictate exactly how many plants you need to purchase. I can give you an idea of about how many plants per square foot to plant.  Then, draw out the design on some graph paper and once you have the square footage of each area you can figure through that.

Mahogany Ajuga Ground CoverFor the ajuga, I would suggest our ‘Mahogany‘ variety. It has very nice dark foliage and would make a striking accent. There are several other varieties to choose from. It’s a fairly fast spreader. Remember, it goes dormant in the winter but will reemerge in the spring and produce a beautiful blue flowerscape. For a quick cover plant, it is ideal. I would suggest using no more than 2 per square foot, as they will spread up to 18 inches.

In your location what is commonly called Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria) is actually an annual. If you are looking for a perennial with silvery foliage, let me suggest Artemisia ‘Powis Castle. I would plant no more than 1 plant per square foot, as this can be an aggressive plant. It can get as tall as three feet.

Also silvery with purple blooms would be Little Spire Perovskia. Its mature size is 18-25″ and 12-18″ wide, so you would only want one per foot.

And there are also several selections of Lavenders in our herb selections that are perennial and have a silvery to blue-green foliage. Each one lists the mature height and width so you can calculate from there. I personally love the lavender, as it adds a fragrant dimension to your landscape.

Angelina Sedum Ground CoverFor sedums, my personal favorite is the Angelina because of the bright green summer color and then the intense change to reds and oranges in the fall. It’s low and makes a nice edge border. But you might also like Dragon’s Blood or the Tricolor Sedum. These you would need 2-3 plants per square foot.

For full sun areas, the dark leaf Heucheras would also make a nice addition to your garden. The lighter-colored-leaf varieties require shade.

I hope this helps you create a beautiful yard.

Happy Gardening,


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