Best Perennial Ground Covers for Zones 3 & 4
Few gardening areas are as daunting as U.S. Department of Agriculture Zone 3, with its winter lows reaching -40 to -30 degrees Fahrenheit and short growing season. Even Zone 4 has specific needs and techniques for successful gardening. When looking for the best perennials for these zones, you typically want to look for plants that can handle low temperatures and extreme weather.
- Virginia Creeper – Hardy in zones 3-9, this great plant has five-leaflet leaves, and displays a bright scarlet-red fall color. It attaches itself to any vertical support and climbs quickly, but on flat surfaces makes a dense ground cover that discourages weeds. It grows in sun or shade, and puts out greenish-white flowers in midsummer that are followed by ornamental but poisonous blue berries.
- Snow-in-Summer – This ground cover grows 6-12 inches tall, and looks like a carpet of grayish-green foliage covered with white flowers in midsummer. It thrives in zones 3-7 in full sun and can tolerate both dry and moist soil.
- Stonecrops – This beautiful little plant grows well in zone 3, forming a 1-2 inch mat of foliage in sun or light-shade, and has golden yellow flowers in spring.
- Common bearberry – It’s a hardy, prostrate shrub with intricate branching that often forms mats up to 3 feet wide, by runners. Fragrant, white bell-shaped flowers tinged with pink are borne in May and followed later in the season by red berries. The common bearberry’s stunning red stems are studded with small, glossy, evergreen leaves.
- Northern maidenhair fern – Northern maidenhair fern’s curved fronds have wiry black stems that wave in the wind. This plant spreads slowly (by branching rhizomes) and eventually forms large colonies. Its delicate texture looks most beautiful when paired with broad-leaved plants.
- Lily of the Valley – Lily of the valley’s bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.