Evergreen Ground Covers – 2 Junipers To Add Structure and Beauty to Your Flower Borders

There’s great benefit in finding the right evergreen ground cover in the form of shrub-like plants rather than vining ground covers.  If you know which ones to choose they’ll add structure to your border, winter interest, look good even in drought, take very little if any maintenance, and basically look good for many years without much effort on your part.

Vining Ground Covers

To better explain what I mean by the maintenance and tending of vining plants, take variegated euonymus (I have it in my front borders) as an example. It’s beautiful in spots and adds a nice variation in color, but it takes a good bit of  pruning and pulling-up each year once it’s established to keep it from taking over and climbing on every other plant in your borders.

Most vining ground covers are like that. And everyone of them that I know of, root where they touch the ground, so they can easily become a nightmare.

3 Ways Most Folks have to Choose Plants

If you’re like me and don’t know a lot about numerous varieties of shrubs and trees, you have to go by what you read in catalogs, what the sales people at the nursery tell you, or what you see growing on someone else’s property that you like the looks of.  Unfortunately, all the these ways have pretty big draw backs and whether or not we get just the thing we were looking for depends on chance.

  • Reading

It’s helpful when you can find descriptions that are really complete in catalogs or online.  In most cases you can’t because usually the description stresses only the good points and doesn’t tell you about the possible drawbacks.  I like sites like that give you all kinds of information including the diseases or insects that the plant may be prone to.

As helpful as that may be, it is still not guarantee that it’s just the plant you want.

  • Sales folks at Plant Places

This can go either way.  If you have a local grower who knows how the plants perform over a long period of time, your chances of getting just what you want in a plant is increased greatly.

In most cases, although sales people might talk as if they really know, they just don’t know enough to give you the information you really need.  That’s what’s happened to me in years past when we visited the big garden in Richmond.  Everything in the pots looks great and the sales people although they tried to be helpful, didn’t give me all the information about the plant that I needed.

I remember buying hedges for part of the property line years ago at a well-known garden center in Richmond. They were varigated Eunoymus.  The were just gorgeous in the pots and the sales person went on about how popular they were and how it was a best seller. etc.

Come to find out they are extremely subject to scale and/or mites.  The first 5 years were trouble free, then we had nothing but trouble and the shrubs started dying.  We took them all out about 3 years ago and replaced them with a Buxus (boxwood) that would be better suited and trouble free.

  • Seeing the Plant on Someone Else’s Property

This is always helpful, but still not a guarantee.  It will depend on how long the property owner has had the plant and how knowledgeable they are about it.

I first acquired Nandina from a dear friend who had one at her back door step.  I planted mine and liked it less and less over a period of maybe 5 years.

Then we had the good fortune to visit friends who have an absolutely gorgeous home flanked on one side by Nandinas.  Our hostess told us the secret to beautiful Nandinas. Every year you cut the tallest stalks at ground level.  You also cut all the small ones that are starting to come up outside the area of growth you want. That’s it.  Now I too have gorgeous Nandinas. They are particularly beautiful in the fall through the winter when the red berries hang in abundance.

Recommendation from a Landscaper with Decades of Experience

When it comes to growing plants, the more years you have under your belt in growing them, the more qualified you are to recommend plants.  Even 10 years is not very much.  But when someone’s been around 40 years, and has landscaped for folks that long, I think I’m all ears when they talk about what  the best shrub-like ground covers are.

After all these years I finally had the opportunity to hear a landscaper with 40 years experience talk about what he would use as a living ground cover in various borders.

This Got My Attention

He said most Junipers were downright ugly and undesirable for use in residential landscapes. But out of more than 100 varieties of Junipers there were several he would recommend without hesitation.  Two of them were ground hugging plants that made excellent ground covers. He went on to say that he had used them in just about every landscape he had designed in the last 15 years.

Important Note: This long-time nurseryman warned against allowing yourself to be “sold” something “just like” these two plants, because the nursery or plant place doesn’t have these two varieties. According to this man, whom I have total confidence in, other junipers WILL NOT PERFORM as these two specific varieties.

NOTE: If you plant them about 30 inches apart they will fill the area in 3 to 4 years. Keep that in mind when you just want to use them here and there throughout your borders for structure and year round interest.

The 2 Junipers that Will Perform Beautifully as Ground Covers:

Green Mound hugs the ground very tightly with the center of the plant being a couple of inches higher.  This gives a gentle rolling effect especially when used to fill an entire bed.  It’s a beautiful shade of green.

Mature height is said to be 6 to 8 inches and mature width 4 to 6 feet.

Green Mound Juniper plants for $5.25 each.

Green Mound Juniper plants for $5.25 each.


Blue Rug, as its name indicated, is more of a blue color. It lays flat to the ground.

Mature height is said to be 4 to 6 inches and the mature width 5 to 8 feet.

Blue Rug Juniper for $5.50.

Blue Rug Juniper for $5.50.

A reader's fully mature Blue Rug Juniper.

Pat, a reader in Tennessee, sent this picture of her fully mature Blue Rug Juniper. She noted that it’s about 3 inches high at the tallest point.

Where I  Ordered Mine

I’ve already ordered 3 of each.  I found them online from for just a little over $5.00 each.  Even with shipping costs they only average out to $10 each, but that’s a lot cheaper than various plants the same size I’ve seen at plant places in Richmond. Also, this way, I know that I’mgetting the right variety.

Even if you don’t end up buying from this nursery, go onto their website and look at all the detailed information they give about each of these plants.

Deer Resistant

I noticed when reading their detailed information that both plants were highly deer resistant and thought I’d mention that since many readers have problems with deer.

Final Thoughts

These two juniper ground covers sound like just what I’ve been looking for over the years to enhance my front borders. Green Mound and Blue Rug should add structure, look good all year, take very little maintenance (if any) and look good for many years without much effort from me.

Hope you’ll benefit from this information as well.  If you have a need, take action.  Even 40 springs is little time.  🙂


Related Posts:

Developing Garden Structure

Border Design – Evergreens – Perennials

Do Your Flower Gardens or Borders Have Year Round Interest?

3 Simple Concepts to Enhance Your Flower Gardens and Borders

Your Garden – How Penelope Hobhouse Can Help Make it Better


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7 comments to Evergreen Ground Covers – 2 Junipers To Add Structure and Beauty to Your Flower Borders

  • Sandra

    They look beautiful, and this is coming from someone who normally doesn’t like junipers. I would love to see them in situ when you get the chance Theresa. I know they will not be at their full effect for a couple of years, but it’d be helpful to see the progression and to see your placement.

  • Sue T

    I really enjoyed this post. My older daughter and I are trying to figure out landscaping for her front courtyard area, and these junipers might be something she would want to use. Thanks for the very detailed and specific information, and especially for passing along the warning from the landscaper not to accept substitutes that claim to be “just like” the two suggested varieties!
    I do have one question. She has bulbs (iris, tulips, hyacinths) planted here and there in the courtyard area. Do you know whether these would still come up through the junipers as they grow and spread?
    Thanks for all your help!

  • Theresa

    Sue, your question about things coming up through the junipers as they grow and spread is one that I thought about when I decided on the junipers. One of the reasons these plants were so appealing to me is because I felt like my spring bulbs and even my day lilies would come up through them.

    Of course, it’s also my understanding that these two junipers root where they touch the ground, so I will watch them through the years of their growth to maturity to see exactly how thick those root systems become. I don’t really see it as a problem — but something to be watched until I know first hand what it will do. If I find they are interfering with a flowering plant, I can move the flowering plant as I see the problem arise. If the junipers interfere with plants that I have in abundance elsewhere, I wouldn’t even take the time to move them.

    I have a juniper-like shrub (don’t know the name) in my front border. It’s taller than the ground cover junipers. We bought it about 14 years ago and it was one of the first things we put in. It really fills and anchors the border, just like we wanted it to. I’m surprised it still looks so wonderful, even after some major pruning. I have daylilies that come up through it’s outermost branches without problem.

    Hope this helps.

  • Sue T

    Thanks, Theresa! We may try the junipers for the courtyard!

  • Theresa

    Sorry I’m late acknowledging your comment Sue. I totally overlooked seeing it.

    I think the junipers will be spectacular in the courtyard!


  • SMD

    How have these done now that they’ve been there a while? I’m considering putting blue rug in a few places but am trying to research it a bit first.

  • Theresa

    They have not grown very much after all this time. Still very small.

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