Ground cover, bushes and trees for dense conpacted clay soil

Asked March 10, 2017, 11:16 PM EST

Please let me know what are the best choices for growing in dense, clay soil the following: low height, preferably flowering, ground cover. height of 1' but not more than 2". flowering shrubs that will not grouw very tall flowering trees that will not grow very tall I would like to plant a combination of these in order to have something flowing , or at leat with colorful foliage, in my yard from spring through fall. I am trying to eliminate my lawn and replace it with ground cover. However, I don;t want it to be too tall to walk across or to enourage snakes to live there.

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

Knowing more about the site conditions, such as how much sunlight this area gets per day or if the area is mostly shady, and how well it drains are important factors in plant selection.
It is definitely possible to plan a landscape so that you have foliage, flower or form interest at most times of year. Some plants are beautiful in multiple seasons, having peeling bark, berries, or interesting branching patterns, even in winter.
Grass is actually a type of groundcover which does best in full sun and can take foot traffic. Most other groundcovers can not take very much foot traffic.
Take a look at these pages on
Groundcovers: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/flowers/groundcovers
and Landscaping: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/trees-and-shrubs/plant-selection
It's definitely recommended that you visit a good garden center and look at what type of plants you find pleasing, and read the tags to be sure they fit your site well- based on sunlight and planning for mature size.
Prior to planting, consider getting your soil tested (this link tells you how: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/soils/soil-testing)
and add organic matter (Leaf-Gro, compost, etc. )to loosen up some of that clay.