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Groundcovers have always played a major role in the planting of many garden styles. This is no less the case with Japanese gardens.
The Japanese style has always used interesting planting combinations create varying perceptions of scale. Groundcover plants were used to provide blocks of texture within garden landscaping.
This can be seen with the use of moss to form ground carpets of colour and fine textures. Groundcovers within Japanese gardens can help to blend together varying planting types.
They can also be used to represent microcosms of the natural world such as dense forests and grasslands. Groundcovers more generally can be used to suppress weeds and stabilise topsoil from erosion.
In this article I will list and describe 10 of the best groundcovers for Japanese gardens.
1. Ophiopogon nigrescens
This clump forming grass is native to Japan and can provide a dense groundcover to Japanese planting borders.
The ornamental grass is well known for its black, strap like leaves that form a black carpet of foliage. Also known as Black Mondo Grass this shade loving, evergreen perennial is perfect for Japanese gardens.
Apart of the Iris family and native to Africa, Crocosmia is a much loved summer flowering perennial.
Due to its origin it does like a sunny well drained position but is surprisingly cold hardy. Crocosmia sprouts up every year from small bulbs which can spread to form dense ground covers.
They have exotic looking red and orange flowers which bees and other pollinators adore.
Also known as Elephant ears Bergenias are low growing, evergreen, herbaceous, perennials.
They have large and leathery leaves which form a lush mat of foliage over the soil. This creates an effective and dense groundcover with a pleasant colour and texture.
During spring they produce very attractive, pink flowers which hover above the foliage.
4. Creeping juniper
Also known by its Latin name ‘Juniperus Horizontalis’ This dwarf conifer has a low and dense growing habit.
Being coniferous it creates an effective, evergreen, groundcover which smothers weeds and looks amazing! This shrub looks very effective cascading down walls and around boulders in Japanese gardens.
It prefers a sunny and well drained planting position with room to spread.
If you’re Japanese garden has a lot of shade you may want to use Pachysandra as a groundcover.
This plant is extremely tough and tolerant of multiple growing conditions including dense shade. They are also favoured for their attractive foliage and flowers which form a dense texture.
6. Japanese forest grass
The Japanese forest grass is an ornamental grass native to the temperate forests of Japan.
Its native habitat means it is extremely shade tolerant and hardy. The leaves are long and narrow which initially shoot up vertically but fan out into a fountain, like, clump.
This makes this grass perfect for forming dense groundcovers within Japanese gardens.
Aubretia is a low growing, evergreen, perennial which is native to Europe and Asia. It has densely packed foliage and large purple flowers.
Also known as 'rock cress' this low growing plant is native to rocky and mountainous regions. This makes Aubretia a resilient plant which likes for form dense groundcovers on well drained soil.
It is perfect for growing over gravel areas, boulders and dry stone walls, perfect for Japanese gardens.
8. Ostrich fern
This beautiful looking and robust fern is native to Asia, Europe and North America.
It is a deciduous, perennial, fern with long, feathery, green foliage, which grows back each year. If planted in a block it will naturally spread to form a colony and a robust groundcover.
Ferns always work very well in Japanese gardens, especially in shady woodland zones.
9. Pinus mugo
Pinus Mugo is a small mountain pine native to the mountainous regions of southern and central Europe.
Interestingly, this dwarf pine tree naturally looks very bonsai like in its growing habit. This makes it perfect for Japanese gardens and can be encouraged to spread into a tall groundcover.
This pine is very hardy and drought tolerant and prefers and open sunny site.
10. Epimedium x rubrum
These unusual, evergreen, perennials have a natural spreading habit and heart shaped leaves. The leaves are suspended about 300mm off the ground upon thin and wiry stems.
This produces almost a floating carpet of attractive foliage which gently rustles in the breeze. This ground cover plant is very tolerant of both dry soil and shade.
This interesting plants makes it an effective groundcover for Japanese garden borders.
Thank you for visiting our article on the best Japanese garden groundcovers. If you need a landscaping company to build your Japanese garden why not contact us?
Below I have included some other Japanese garden articles you may find useful.
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