Ground cover plants are very useful for areas where minimal maintenance is desired and as an alternative to turf grass. Zone 4 ground covers must be hardy to winter temperatures of -30 to – 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 to -28 C.). While this may limit some of the choices, there are still plenty of options for the cold zone gardener. Cold hardy ground covers are also useful as protection for semi-hardy plant’s roots, minimizing most weeds and creating a carpet of color that seamlessly integrates the rest of the garden into a Monet-like swath of tones and textures.
About Zone 4 Ground Covers
Landscape planning often incorporates ground covers as part of the plan. These low-growing living carpets project interest to the eye while accenting other plantings. Plants for zone 4 ground coverage abound. There are many useful and hardy cold hardy ground covers that may bloom, yield evergreen foliage and even produce fruit.
As you design your landscape, it is important to note areas where most plants don’t grow, such as rocky regions, over tree roots and in sites where maintenance would be difficult. Ground covers are very useful in such situations and generally don’t need much upkeep while effortlessly filling in gaps and providing a foil for taller plant specimens.
In zone 4, the winters can be very harsh and cold, often accompanied by chill winds and heavy snow and ice. These conditions may be difficult for some plants. This is where plants for zone 4 ground coverage come into play. Not only are they hardy in winter but they thrive in the short, hot summer and add different seasonal interest year round.
Ground Covers for Zone 4
If lush greenery and varying tones and textures of leaves is your desire, there are many suitable ground cover plants for zone 4. Consider the size of the area, the moisture levels and drainage, the height of coverage you desire, the exposure and the fertility of the soil as you choose your ground cover.
Common wintercreeperhas delightful dark green leaves with scalloped edges. It can be trained to trail as well as allowed to creep along, establishing itself in a broad range over time.
Creeping juniper is one of the hardiest evergreen plants, is quick to establish and comes in varieties that range from nearly a foot tall to just 6 inches. It also has several cultivars with foliage ranging from silvery blue, grayish green and even plum tones in winter.
Many ivy plants are useful in zone 4 such as Algerian, English, Baltic and variegated cultivars. All are quick to grow and create a tumble of stems and pretty heart-shaped foliage.
Other foliar forms also produce small but sweet flowers in spring and summer. Some of these are:
- Creeping jenny
- Mondo grass
- Woolly thyme
- Lamb’s ear
- Labrador violet
- Chameleon plant
High impact seasonal displays may be created with flowering species of hardy ground covers. Flowering ground cover plants for zone 4 may produce blooms in spring only or may extend throughout summer and even into fall. There are both woody and herbaceous plant covers from which to choose.
Woody specimens bloom at different times of the year and many even produce berries and fruits that attract birds and wildlife. Some may require pruning if you want a tidier ground cover but all are fairly self-sustaining and provide different seasons of interest.
- American cranberry bush
- Grey dogwood
- Red twig dogwood
- Rugosa rose
- False spirea
- Nikko Deutzia
- Dwarf broom
- Virginia sweetspire – Little Henry
- Hancock snowberry
The herbaceous ground covers die back in fall but their color and fast growth in spring fill in open spaces quickly. Herbaceous ground covers for zone 4 to think about might include:
- Lily of the valley
- Wild geranium
- Crown vetch
- Canada anemone
- Woolly yarrow
- Rock cress
- Hardy ice plant
- Sweet woodruff
- Creeping phlox
- Lady’s mantle
- Blue star creeper
Don’t be alarmed if these seem to disappear in autumn, as they will come back with a force in spring and rapidly spread for wonderful warm season coverage and color. Ground covers offer unique versatility and ease of care for many forgotten or difficult to maintain sites. Hardy ground covers for zone 4 can appeal to just about any gardener’s need and provide years of effective weed control, moisture retention, and attractive companions for your other plants.