Make your #ISaveWater garden even more exquisite with planted ground covers

South Africa is filled to the brim with natural beauty. From the snowy climes of the stunning Drakensberg, to the unbelievable wildlife sights in our reserves, to the starkly beautiful landscapes of the Karoo – we have it all.

It’s little wonder that we also have a deep and abiding passion for our gardens.

Given the facts of #ClimateChange, however, #ISaveWater gardens have become a top priority. With this in mind, all enthusiastic green thumbs should understand the benefits of planted ground covers.

The re-direction of scarce resources

Felicia Amelloides . Image courtesy of Stickpen

Many readers will have active and energetic children, so completely doing away with lawns is not something that comes without difficulty. The trick here is to balance the need for a play area with the realities of maintenance and water usage. Planted ground cover lessens upkeep and reduces water consumption significantly. The benefit here is a great trade-off: by carefully choosing areas where lawn can be replaced by ground cover, you save time and water resources that can be re-directed elsewhere.

A bustling, buzzing and song-filled eco-system

Ground cover attracts life that has become an increasing rarity in urban areas. In fact, it may be more accurate to describe this benefit as the development of a lively eco-system: ground cover provides protection for insects and earthworms, which in turn invite a variety of birdlife. Ground covering perennials and annuals that flower will also bring buzzing bee life and birds that enjoy a hearty sip of nectar. Somehow, the sound of a garden bustling with life always satisfies the soul.

Cooler, more pleasant microclimate

Agapanthus Praecox. Image courtesy of I am Jim

Hardy water-wise plants, especially Xerophyte species that have evolved to survive harsh climates, often have a grey, light green or blue-green colour that reflects sunlight. This, in addition to plant transpiration, cools a garden’s immediate environment.

The absorption of loud and undesirable ambient noises

If, for example, you live on or near a busy road, noise generated by traffic may become a problem. The more foliage an area has, the more this unwanted and distracting noise is reduced. Soft surfaces absorb and present obstacles to these problematic soundwaves.

Fighting the good fight against greenhouse gas emissions

Falkia Repens. Image courtesy of Andrew Massyn

Ground cover keeps carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere. When it comes to greenhouse gasses (GHGs), every bit of emission reduction counts. Here’s how it helps: in the process of photosynthesis, plants extract CO2 from the atmosphere to produce sugars that supply cells with energy. The by-product is oxygen. As organic plant matter falls to the soil below and begins to compost, the stored carbon is then trapped by the soil – keeping it out of the atmosphere. When soil isn’t covered, however, the carbon once again enters the air, contributing to the GHG problem.

Protects against erosion, surface run-off, evaporation and soil degradation

Aloe Dorotheae. Image courtesy Stan Shebs

Like nutrient rich, generously proportioned organic mulch, planted ground cover slows rainwater (or irrigation) run-off, which affords water an opportunity to sink into, and saturate, valuable top-soil. Additionally, water that doesn’t percolate into the soil is at a greater risk of evaporating – which places more pressure on water demand as water is used less effectively. Lastly, as root systems develop, they hold the soil together and prevent it from becoming eroded.

To learn more about which plants best suit your specific microclimatic conditions, have a chat with the friendly staff at your nearest Builders. If you already have a few ideas in mind, don’t wait to browse the Builders plant selection online – or simply shop here.

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