Creating a Beautiful Garden: Step 5

Step Five: Fill It Out with Groundcovers and Low-Growing Plants

The last step is to fill in unused spaces with groundcovers and low-growing plants. Repeated throughout the landscape, they are an effective way to establish a balanced and cohesive look in your garden. Rather than ornamentals, use low-growing perennials herbs and edibles as groundcovers throughout your garden. Groundcover chamomile under a fruit tree can be repeated between flagstones in a pathway. If you use a variegated yellow-and-green ornamental grass in one part of t he garden, repeat that same color scheme with a variegated lemon thyme. Remember common sense when harvesting – don’t harvest and eat the ones that are planted in more pedestrian areas like the edges of driveways and sidewalks; instead, leave those to flower and attract pollinators to the garden or use as cut flowers in your home.

Some favorite edible groundcovers and low-growing plants include:

Spreading fruits:

  • blueberries (low bush varieties)
  • cranberries
  • strawberries (alpine, ever-bearing, and June-bearing)


  • chamomile (‘Roman’ variety)
  • Corsican mint
  • other mints (use only in contained areas and pull back from around bases of trees and shrubs)
  • oregano (try variegated ‘White Anniversary’)
  • rosemary (prostrate varieties)
  • sage (try ‘La Crema’,. ‘Tricolor’, and golden varieties)
  • sweet woodruff
  • thyme (try ‘Caraway’, creeping, ‘Spicy Orange’, lime, variegated lemon, and silver varieties)
  • winter savory

Now that we have walked you through the design principles of a beautiful garden and the five steps for planning a garden, you are ready to apply these ideas to your front yard, backyard, and other smaller garden spaces.

Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 4

Find the book at Johnson’s for more information

Bennett, Leslie and Stefani Bittner. (2013). The Beautiful Edible Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Creating a Beautiful Garden: Step 5

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