About Gardening: "Instant" Landscaping
by Mira Dessy
Landscaping for Less
A Frugal Lawn and Garden
Make the Most of Your Curb Appeal
I find your column in the weekly newsletter very informative, and I would first like to say thank you for all your great advice. I have a question of my own for you and I'm sure you'll have some ideas for me. I am looking to plant a garden that will grow fast, and cover a lot of ground. Some is in the shade, and some gets full sun. "Color" or blooms are not a priority, I just want something that will give me height in the garden and help to cover a lot of ground. I am thinking of some ornamental grasses for height, and herbs that will "take over". I would appreciate any advice you might be able to give! Thanks for considering my question.
If you are looking for some things to give your garden height you might want to consider planting a few shrubs. Ornamental grasses are going to give you height, but with shrubs you can get evergreen type plants (such as rhododendron) which will have an effect on your landscaping year round.
As to plants that are ground cover that take over quickly. There are quite a few but it really depends on what your area is and what you want to do with it. You might want to try lambs ear or ajuga. Both of these will start slowly but by the second year or so they will really take over. They have different height (the ajuga being really low to the ground) and different color and texture. For the sunny area you could try something like coreopsis or shasta daisy for height and color. These don't really spread, but they have height and are fairly bushy.
You don't say what area of the country you live in, but you may want to consider some mounding plants (such as heather) if you have the climate that will allow them to grow properly. Not all of these will spread rapidly, but you can get a few of them together for a nice effect. The texture and color and height should work nicely in quite a few different settings. Hope this helps.
If you have a question for Mira, send it to email@example.com. She's able to answer many of them personally.