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Planting ground covers

Astilbe chinensis 'Pumila' – a ground cover plant
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Jean-Pierre Bellemare)
Astilbe chinensis 'Pumila'

When to plant ground covers?

Container-grown plants can be planted at any time during the growing season. However, spring and late summer (August and September) are the best times for ground covers to become established, with their plentiful rainfall, warm days and cool nights.

How many ground covers should be planted?

How widely apart you should space your plants depends on how much they will spread once fully grown and their growth rate.

To figure out how many ground cover plants you need to cover a given space, simply divide the area to be covered by the amount of space each plant will take up once fully grown.


  1. Measure the area to be covered
    100 cm X 150 cm = 15,000 cm2 to be covered
  2. Once fully grown, your chosen plant will have a spread of about 50 cm
    50 cm X 50 cm = 2,500 cm2
  3. Divide the area to be covered by the amount of space each plant will cover
    15,000 cm2 / 2,500 cm2 = 6

This means that you need six plants to cover an area measuring 100 cm by 150 cm.

It may help to spread organic mulch around your plants during the first few years, until they have filled in. This will help retain soil moisture and keep weed growth under control.

Planting tips for fast-growing ground covers

If you have a limited budget or a large area to cover, you can plant from seed or buy only a small number of ground cover plants, place them in the ground and allow them to grow for a year or two. Once they have spread, you can divide them and plant them in the remaining spaces.

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