Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a classic native vine heralded for its vivid red fall color. ‘Yellow Wall’ takes the native to a new place with leaves that turn a striking gold in autumn. This is a fast, easy-growing vine that does well in part to full sun. In the wild, Virginia creeper often scales trees as vines reach for the sun. In the garden, give it the sturdy support of a pergola or well-anchored arch. Avoid planting ‘Yellow Wall’ against a building, because it attaches directly to surfaces with organic holdfasts that are tough to remove. Plants grow 20 to 30 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
Trim your plant as needed to maintain its size, and remove any flowers when they fade. Looking for more plants to grow in a terrarium? Calvo suggests Alpine water fern (Blechnum penna-marina), Baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii), Dwarf crisped fern (Dryopteris affinis ‘Crispa Gracilis’), Creeping fig (Ficus pumila) and Artillery plant (Pilea glauca ‘Aquamarine’).
Thyme, including red creeping thyme (shown), possesses excellent mosquito repelling properties. The secret is to crush the leaves to release the volatile oils. You can simply place crushed stems around outdoor seating areas or rub the leaves on skin or clothing. Burning thyme leaves also shows skeeters the door, providing 85 to 90 percent protection for up to 90 minutes. Lemon thyme, silver thyme, English thyme, creeping thyme—all types offer some degree of mosquito protection. Tuck them into pots, or use them to edge planting beds.
A living mulch is a type of low-growing ground cover that blankets soil like a mulch. In this garden, golden creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) is the living mulch. Other plants that work well as living mulches include alpine strawberry, low juniper, vinca vine or short mints like Corsican mint. Be careful with living mulches that root along stems as they grow. These types of plants can easily become invasive and even try to overgrow lawns.
For a more organic edging, look to stones. Light colored river rock creates a striking edge between lawn and planting beds. When using river rock for edging, you’ll need to monitor for weeds or grass creeping into beds. To reduce weeds or grass, hand pull or spray. Placing weed fabric under stones can help suppress grass, but it may break through eventually.
Colletti designed this open glass container for use on a coffee table. The moss on the left is Irish moss (Sagina subulata), a lush-looking groundcover with a fuzzy texture. The red center plant, Hypoestes, works as a focal point. Colletti loves baby tears (Helxine soleirolii, in the lower right corner of the container). It's growing next to a creeping fig (Ficus pumila) in the lower right corner. Sheet moss was used in the upper right corner. “The plants are the stars,” Colletti says, “so the top dressing is minimal; clean lines accent a home décor display.”
One of the fastest ways to drop an edge between lawn and planting areas is using concrete edger or paver stones set upright, on edge. Cast from concrete, these stones create the most effective edging if they’re dug into soil so the base sits slightly below lawn level. Keep an eye out for grass creeping around or under concrete edgers. Hand pull or spot spray with grass killer. Look for concrete edgers in a variety of shapes and colors. They give a garden a more formal flair, which looks nice whether it’s lining beds full of flowers, herbs or vegetables.
Trade lawn for a long and lovely rain garden, complete with a bridge to span the water collection basin. This rain garden creates a focal point in the landscape with its footbridge. It’s part of an environmentally friendly front yard that replaces water guzzling lawn with eye-catching planting beds. The upper edges of the rain garden feature creeping thyme, which forms a green carpet. Plantings in the basin include ornamental fescue grass, sedge and other regionally-hardy perennials. The bridge elevates the rain garden to a landscape showpiece, tying it to the surrounding setting.
Also known as wild morning glory, bindweed is bad news. Hedge bindweed spreads by seed and creeping underground stems; field bindweed spreads by weeds and roots, which grow up to 30 feet deep. These plants open flowers that look like morning glory, which is why many gardeners let them grow. They’ll grow along the ground like a ground cover, but if there’s a support nearby, like a rose, fence or tree, the vines twine and climb. Since these plants are tough to eradicate, it’s important not to let any get a foothold in your yard. Pull them as soon as you see them, and continue pulling each time they emerge. It will take possibly years for the roots to exhaust, but you can eventually beat them this way. For quicker kill, apply an herbicide that kills the root. It may still take more than one treatment, but you will kill these persistent plants.