PHOTO BY ERIC DODSON; INSET BY JULIE BEYNON BURNETT, SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
PHOTO BY HHELENE; INSET BY CLAUDIA SCHUETH, SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
A known nitrogen-fixer, clover is valued by many gardeners for its beneficial soil impacts. Apply those benefits by scattering clover seed this spring. Dutch white clover is fairly low-growing at 4 to 8 inches, and can keep your lawn looking lush and green even during summer droughts. For more colorful foliage, Mikl Brawner of Harlequin’s Gardens in Boulder points to Trifolium repens ‘Dragon’s Blood,’ which is minty-green with blood-red streaks. Or try Trifolium repens ‘Pentaphyllum,’ a black-leaved clover. PROS: Improves soil health; pollinators love the flowers; inexpensive seed; requires little to no supplemental water; can tolerate light foot traffic. CONS: Can’t withstand heavy foot traffic or roughhousing from dogs or kids.
For 20 years, Brawner has experimented with 60 different plants in his Xeriscape Ground Covers Display and Test Beds to see which excel in our dry climate. He now enthusiastically recommends creeping thyme. Several varieties have flourished on a quarter of the water it takes to sustain Kentucky bluegrass. Especially hardy performers are red creeping thyme, ‘Reiter’ thyme and ‘Ohme Garden’ thyme. PROS: Colorful flowers; requires very little water; foliage provides winter interest; tolerates moderate foot traffic; repels mosquitoes. CONS: Can be expensive to cover a large area; while fairly resilient, heavy foot traffic or roughhousing still take their toll.
Periwinkle A great choice for difficult shady areas, periwinkle has beautiful flowers and semievergreen leaves. Josh Wagner of Green Landscape Solutions in Lafayette says it’s especially useful for erosion control on banks. Once established, periwinkle needs virtually no maintenance. It can also survive in sunny areas, but won’t spread as quickly. PROS: Year-round interest, since its leaves often don’t die in winter; low water needs; easily crowds out weeds; low growth habit; can tolerate light foot traffic. CONS: May be difficult to remove; can’t withstand heavy foot traffic or roughhousing from dogs or kids. 38
h o m e + g ar d e n magazine | spring 2021
PHOTO BY ANGHI; INSET BY JULIA B, SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
PHOTO BY BRUM; INSET BY MARINO DENISENKO, SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Sedum Spurium Also called two-row stonecrop, sedum spurium comes highly recommended by experts at both Harlequin’s Gardens and TLC Gardens in Boulder. Brawner has seen fantastic results with the ‘Bronze Carpet’ and ‘Dragon’s Blood’ varieties in his test garden. PROS: Requires very little supplemental water; tolerates heat well; colorful foliage and flowers; flowers attract pollinators; rabbit-resistant; can tolerate light foot traffic. CONS: Can’t withstand heavy foot traffic or roughhousing from dogs or kids.