In the days when there were great estates with full-time gardeners in England, weeding was not much of a concern for garden owners. However, nowadays when many garden owners worldwide do their own maintenance, weeds are a great concern for most of us.
Early in the spring, many gardeners sprinkle granules of weed suppressants over our beds, hoping to stop the weed seeds from germinating. I often am late doing this and the weeds flourish and cause me a lot of distress later.
Vita Sackville West was an early advocate of “carpeting plants” to cover bare ground. She wrote during the 1950’s that “a great secret of good gardening lies in covering every patch of the ground with some suitable carpeter.”
We call the plants that she called “carpeters” groundcovers today: hosta, perennial geranium, ajuga, lamb’s ears, low growing catmint, and sedums and so on.
Beware of invasive plants such as snow in summer, English ivy, and vinca.
The ideal ground-covering plants are those that grow a few inches tall above the soil surface and shade it so that weed seeds don’t germinate. The ideal groundcover can tolerate shade and persist in dry soil and is low growing. Taller plants that grow closely together in swathes, of course, also stifle weeds.