Four Groundcovers For Paved Pathways

stepping stones 682x1024 Four Groundcovers For Paved Pathways

Planning out a new garden path? For the gardener who enjoys a little greenery around their paving stones here are four great low growing perennials you can easily purchase as young plants or  ”start” as seeds on your own.

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Ajuga                                   Irish Moss

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Creeping Jenny                     Lemon Thyme

Ajuga is a very hardy perennial, with multicolored foliage (check out your local selection of cultivars), that is great for growing between bricks, pavers, or rough stone paths. Many varieties are evergreen, and others are semi-evergreen, doing well in both deeply shady and sunny locations.  It spreads quickly and easily through runners, and when left unchecked can become invasive.  Care may need to be taken to keep the plant in the designated spot you choose for it. This is a plant you can feel no guilt in walking over, and is a great plant for areas that see a lot of children’s activities. Prune this Ajuga back every year by mowing over it, and thin it out every couple years to prevent rot in it’s dense vegetation.

Irish Moss is a charming classic that isn’t actually a moss. It sends up a tiny carpet of white blooms each summer, which moss never does, and once it is established in good soil, can be easily trimmed back and spread though cuttings.  This is not a plant that will take over your pathway easily, and will actually need to be planted in every place you desire it to be. When healthy this plant tends to mound in place, but minimal skill is needed to trim off and place excess growth into new areas.  If you keep cuttings planted in good soil, and keep them moist they will establish themselves rapidly, and fill in your pathway beautifully.

Creeping Jenny is a perennial in all but the coldest climates. Aside from having unique evergreen foliage, it also sends up yellow blooms in the summer.  This container garden favorite can be found in most garden centers, and will spread quickly in soil that is kept moist.  In dry climates this plant needs to be kept moist daily, and cannot tolerate dry roots in hot weather. Without care this plant can become invasive, but with trimming it will remain in place.  While Creeping Jenny is an excellent choice to plant in problem areas in your garden that may have moisture issues, or some standing water, it is less foot traffic friendly, and for that reason I don’t recommend it on pathways for families that have small children.  Constant walk-overs, or toy trucks driving though it will be hard for the plant to overcome, and it may never fill in your pathway in the manner you would like.

Lemon Thyme may be a plant you will have to start from seed, since it is relatively harder to find, but the crop will be well worth your time.  This is another hardy plant that can tolerate rough and tumble pathways, and it kicks up a sweet lemon citrus fragrance every time you walk by and brush it.  It can also work double duty as a path accent and a cooking additive.  Cooks often use it in chicken or fish recipes, and it also works as a substitute in baking for Lemon or citrus zest!

Try any of these plants in your garden during the summer months, or order them as seeds mid-winter to place them in the ground this spring, and really get a jump on your garden projects!

Happy Gardening!

Photos Courtesy of: nakaehoneymoon musicthatredhead4,

Saint John’s Wort

img 1560 229x300 Saint John’s WortExhibit “A”  as to why you should never discount a plant with the word ‘wort’ in it; this is St. John’s Wort. 


St. John’s Wort is a great accent plant for your garden beds and containers, and it’s one of the least known plants of most gardeners today. The family Hypericum contains both flowering shrubs, and a vine form in many different types and colors. The shrubs range in height from 1-10 feet in height when fully grown, while the vine’s low growing habit makes it ideal for erosion control on hillside gardens.  Grown best in zones 4-8, the shrubs and vines do well in partial shade to full sun, but bloom most prolifically in full sun.  These plants are drought tolerant, with 3 inch wide blooms covering them from June through August.  St. John’s Wort is a natural choice for gardens with poor or rocky soil, so it is a great plant to have on hand if you have large areas that need perennials but you don’t have the inclination to create endless formal beds with all the topsoil and mulch that those require.


My favorite use of St. John’s Wort is in tree rings, or as a mass groundcover.  It’s spreading habit can be best appreciated when it is planted in large groups in a location where it won’t take over the entire flower garden.  As a tough perennial, this plant falls on my “Full Sun, Bullet-Proof” plant list, and once it is established you can keep it fresh by mowing over it every few years to keep it flowering and fresh.


Due to its hearty nature St. John’s wort is a plant that should be introduced only in garden areas where its growth habits can be managed.  The USDA lists these plants as a potentially invasive in the wild, so care should be taken to keep it out of naturalized area for the benefit of local wildlife, and the native ecosystem.