Saffron Crocus
Saffron Crocus

Groundcovers are an essential layer of the food forest. Groundcovers function as living mulch. They can be edible. They could also provide food, habitat, and nectar to pollinators and beneficial insects. They could also provide a role in nutrient cycling and generating mulch on-site. Groundcovers work with the Herbaceous layer and the root layer. Some groundcovers listed here could also be considered as the root layer. When designing a system for minimizing maintenance, groundcovers are key. I like to mix creeping groundcovers and self-seeding groundcovers with bunching herbaceous perennials to create a low-maintenance system.

Types of Groundcovers

  • Self Seeding Groundcovers
  • Clumping Groundcovers
  • Creeping Groundcovers

Select a mix of self-seeding groundcovers, clumping groundcovers, and creeping groundcovers.

The best self seeding annual groundcovers

For the first five years of your food forest, while the trees are still small, there is an opportunity to grow annual vegetables as groundcovers. All annual vegetables could work, however, I like to select edible greens, alliums, and flowers that self-seed easily. They come back to fill the gaps year after year.

These are some annual greens and flowers that are easy to grow from seed and self-seed to fill spaces.

  • Mache / Corn Salad
  • Parsley
  • Kale
  • Red Mustard
  • Calendula
  • Borage
  • Poppy
  • Lemon Balm
  • Phacelia
  • Chickweed
  • Golden / Pink Purslane

The best clumping perennial groundcovers

These are clumping, slowing spreading groundcovers.
Some of these could also be considered as the “Root” or “Herbaceous” layer of the food forest.

  • Comfrey
  • Rhubarb
  • Belle Isle Cress
  • Sylvetta Arugula
  • Bietina Chard
  • Chives
  • Sorrel
  • Welsh Onions
  • Society Garlic
  • Egyptian Walkng Onions
  • Chamomile

Bulbs work great as groundcovers!

  • Daffodils
  • Violets / Sweet Violets
  • Camas
  • Tulips
  • Crocus
  • Dahlias
  • Snowbells

Spreading or Creeping Groundcovers

  • Vetch
  • Red / White / Crimson Clover
  • Beach Strawberry
  • Alpine Strawberry
  • Wild Strawberry
  • Meadowfoam
  • Rock Cress
  • Lambs ear
  • Chocolate Mints
  • Spearmint
  • English Mint
  • Ginger
  • Thyme
  • Nepalese Raspberry
  • Groundcover Raspberry
  • Wintergreen

These are some ideas for groundcovers. Check out the Herbaceous layer next.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text.

Start typing and press Enter to search