Groundcovers: What They Are and Why We Love Using Them

Garden Center

Groundcover plants are what they sound like: they’re plants that cover the ground! Many groundcover plants are flowering, so they bring beautiful color to the landscape. They tend to grow lower to the ground, though some have flowers that rise, adding height and texture. 

However, we don’t just grow groundcover plants for ornamental purposes—there are so many unexpected benefits and functions of these versatile plants! Here’s our guide on strategically using groundcover plants, plus a list of some of our favorite varieties for Moultonborough. 

The Many Functions of Groundcover Plants

They’re not just for show—these useful plants have so much to offer! Here’s why we love them:

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center - A Guide to Groundcovers -PachysandraErosion Control

Sloping terrains can become unstable in periods of heavy rain, and they can shift and erode over time. groundcover plants grow in lush, thick mats, and their root networks help stabilize the terrain and hold it in place. If you’ve got a sloped yard or you’re worried about mudslides after big storms, planting groundcovers will really help! 

Weed Control 

The lush, spreading habit of groundcovers can fill up lots of surface area in the garden, even around other taller landscape plants; this makes it difficult for weed seeds to find a free spot to take hold. It’s a great way to prevent weeds; no herbicides or hand-pulling required!

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center - A Guide to Groundcovers -sedum in gardenFlood Control

Groundcover plants absorb far more moisture than grass. If we’re experiencing a lot of rain, they help absorb the extra moisture, preventing pooling and excess runoff. They’re also great for the bottoms of slopes since extra moisture will travel downward and pool at the lowest points. 

Soil Temperature Control

By shielding the soil’s surface, your groundcovers help block the sun from evaporating moisture and drying out the soil. They act like a living mulch for landscape plants!

Low-Maintenance Lawn Alternatives

Tired of mowing the lawn? Reduce your lawn size and plant some groundcovers! They’re just so much more interesting to look at than plain grass, and the local pollinators will be very grateful for the extra food source. 

Creeping Plants for Rock Gardens

If you want to plant a rock garden, or if you’ve just got a particularly rocky yard, creeping plants are a great option. Varieties like creeping phlox and sedum are perfect for rock gardens, adding vibrant pops of color to balance out neutral stone shades. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center - A Guide to Groundcovers -Creeping MyrtleThe Best Groundcover Plants for New Hampshire Gardens

Here are some gorgeous flowering groundcovers to complete a perfectly balanced landscape design in Moultonborough and surrounding areas:

Lamium: Striking foliage is typically frosted with either silver or gold, bringing incredible dimension to the landscape. Its flowers are like tiny snapdragons in shades of light pink and purple. 

Low Bush Blueberry: This native blueberry plant stays low to the ground and doesn’t get too bushy but still produces plenty of those delicious edible berries! It’s also native to New Hampshire, so it’s incredibly low-maintenance and easy to cultivate! 

Pachysandra: The cool green foliage of Pachysandra is just so lush and thick—it’s perfect for covering the soil around trees! It’s nice and low-growing, and its tiny, frilled white flowers are downright adorable. 

Creeping Myrtle: Not to be confused with the shrub Myrtle or the Crepe Myrtle, this groundcover is actually a type of Vinca. Its gorgeous icy-blue flowers appear in spring, and its low-growing emerald foliage brings a splash of rich jewel tones to the scenery. It makes a fabulous lawn alternative and looks amazing around taller landscape plants. 

Creeping Phlox: The flowers of this creeping perennial plant are so plentiful that you can barely see the foliage when it’s in bloom! Create a carpet of candy-colored beauty with creeping phlox that blooms in shades of pink, purple, and blue. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center - A Guide to Groundcovers creeping violetsViolets and Violas: On top of being beautiful, these spreading flowers are edible! If you haven’t treated them with chemicals, you can pop off those blooms, give them a rinse and add them into pretty cocktails, salads, and desserts. 

Sedum: This perennial groundcover is actually a succulent! Its fleshy foliage is available in a stunning spectrum of shades, and depending on your chosen variety, they may bloom in spring, summer, or autumn.

Looking to pick up some groundcovers near Moultonborough? Visit the garden center at Stephens Landscaping Garden Center and explore these and many more groundcovers ready to plant now! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates and featured products.

The Best Herbs and Vegetables for Container Gardens

Garden Center · Planting

Looking for some creative ideas for your container gardens this year? Why not make them equal parts stylish and functional by growing edible plants? There are so many tasty vegetables and fragrant herbs you can use to elevate your home cooking. Nothing beats homegrown produce straight from the garden—or the kitchen windowsill!

Growing Food Becomes Easy and Accessible with Container Gardens

Veggies and herbs tend to require lots of sunshine and space to grow. If you’re dealing with any of the following, you can still grow an incredible edible garden by planting your crops in containers:

  • A heavily shaded garden
  • Minimal greenspace
  • No yard and only a small balcony

Container gardens are great because you can move them around wherever the sun is shining. Instead of sticking to the garden bed, you can grow them on your patio, the front steps, a South–facing windowsill—whatever your heart desires! 

Here are the best varieties of vegetables and herbs to grow in container gardens for unbeatable flavor and powerful nutrients. The supermarket stuff just doesn’t compare to homegrown, freshly picked produce! 

Easy Vegetables to Grow in Pots

Not all veggies work well in planters, but you’ll have excellent results if you choose the following varieties!


Tomatoes fall into two categories: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate varieties produce their harvest all at once and have a bushier, compact form, so they’re easy to maintain in containers. Indeterminate varieties grow on vines and steadily produce fruit until frost, so if you grow them in containers, use a tomato cage or stakes to keep them upright. 

These vigorous growers will need plenty of fertilizer and compost to nourish them through their growing season. Fertilize once per month with a formula specifically created for tomatoes—they need extra calcium and magnesium to prevent diseases like blossom end rot. During the hottest summer months, you’ll likely need to water every day—inconsistent watering can result in splitting fruits!

Mini Cucumbers

Perfect for pickling or a cool, refreshing summer snack, we can’t get enough of mini cucumbers! Vining varieties grow best in containers with trellises, so you can train them to grow upward and keep those cukes off the ground. Bush varieties don’t grow very tall, and they look quite pretty if they cascade down the sides of a container or hanging basket. Grow them in a sunny spot that gets 6–8 hours of sun per day. Avoid watering the plant overhead—instead, water the soil directly to reduce the risk of powdery mildew. 


Colorful peppers have just as much ornamental value as a container garden full of flowers! Large bell pepper plants will need a pot at least 12 inches deep and wide, but there are plenty of tiny hot peppers that can grow in smaller pots—they almost look like a bundle of colorful Christmas tree lights! When transplanting your seedlings into their pots, be sure to water the soil well to encourage those roots to spread. They need 6–8 hours of direct sun per day, but they’ll do best if they have some protection from strong winds. Placing them by a South- or West-facing wall will yield the best results. 

Delicious Herbs for Container Gardens

Herbs are some of the simplest edible plants to grow in containers—many people grow them as houseplants indoors! Nearly every herb can be grown in a plant pot. 

The key to growing delicious herbs is pinching off the flower heads as soon as they appear. Herb flowering is called “bolting;” if you let them expend all their energy creating flowers and seeds, they won’t produce as many of their tasty leaves, and they often won’t taste as nice. 

Herbs can also be grown in mixed planter arrangements, but it’s important to put compatible plants together with similar growth speeds. A fast-growing plant will overtake a slow-growing plant. 

Here are some plant combination ideas for container herb gardens:

  • Basil + Parsley 
  • Rosemary + Thyme
  • Cilantro + Tarragon
  • Sage and Oregano
  • Lemon Thyme + Lemon Verbena
  • Sage + Lavender

Plant mint by itself, and avoid planting it with other mint varieties. Different varieties can cross-pollinate, and the results can be less palatable than you’d like!

Discover even more delicious herbs and vegetables for container gardens in Moultonborough and visit the Stephens Landscaping Garden Center! Our staff are always happy to help get you all set up with the necessary supplies to keep your edible container garden thriving. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates and featured products.

Our Top 8 List of Gorgeous Flowering Shrubs for Moultonborough

Garden Center

We love flowering shrubs. They add so much style, color, and personality to the landscape, yet they’re so low-maintenance and ask for so little in return! Transform your yard—and increase your property value in the process—by planting some of these dazzling landscape plants this spring.

These Flowering Shrubs Are at the Top of Our List for 2022

Whether you want to add structure to your landscape, create a privacy border, or fill your landscape with spectacular color and texture, these eight flowering shrubs will check all the necessary boxes. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center -forsythiaForsythia

This fascinating shrub explodes with yellow blooms in spring, lighting up the landscape like a blazing golden sun. Its flowers emerge well before the leaves begin to sprout, so there’s nothing but fabulous, fragrant blooms to enjoy in spring. Forsythia blossoms are actually edible, and they’re perfect for making aromatic simple syrups to use in summer cocktails.

Azalea ‘Karen’

We want to add so many stunning azalea varieties to this list, but if we have to choose one, it must be Karen! Unlike the Karen stereotype, this flowering shrub is low-maintenance and won’t cause you any stress. It’s incredibly resilient and reliable, bursting with vibrant lilac purple blooms every spring. While it’s technically an evergreen, this Azalea’s emerald green foliage transitions to a rich burgundy in autumn.  

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center - PJM RhododendronPJM Rhododendron

You’ll love the unique color palette of this distinctive Rhododendron, perfect for hedge borders and foundation planting; purple-pink blooms cluster together in little trusses nestled on a lush mound of dark, dusty green foliage. PJM has evergreen leaves that transition to a warm mahogany tone in fall, bringing fabulous winter interest. This flowering shrub’s exceptional tolerance to sudden shifts to warm and cold temperatures makes them a popular choice for Moultonborough gardens. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center -witch hazelWitch Hazel

This deciduous shrub requires little-to-no maintenance. So long as you have a super sunny spot to plant it, you should have no trouble keeping your Witch Hazel happy! Its peculiar yet beautiful blooms have a distinctive, stringy appearance. After it has finished blooming, you can prune off branches from this shrub and boil the bark to create a healing tonic for soothing rashes and bruises or use it as a daily skin toner to improve your complexion. 

Lilac ‘Miss Kim’

Nothing beats that unmistakable fragrance of blooming lilac shrubs in spring. It blooms a bit later than your typical lilac; it may continue blooming well into June and early July! It’s more lush and compact than many other lilac shrubs, so it won’t get as many awkward, leggy branches that jut outwards. Miss Kim reaches a maximum size of 9 feet tall and 7 feet wide at maturity, but pruning in late summer after it blooms will keep it to a smaller size if desired. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center -pierisPieris

When this Japanese evergreen shrub begins flowering, it always draws gasps of amazement! Its adorable blooms, usually pink or white, dangle downward from long stems, similarly to Lily of the Valley, and its leaves fan outward in a circular fan shape, kind of like an Umbrella tree! Minimal pruning is required, as this shrub generally keeps a tidy, manageable shape that works well for hedges and border planting. 

Blue Muffin Viburnum

If you want a flowering shrub with gorgeous color contrast and visual interest in autumn, look no further than Blue Muffin Viburnum! While its lovely white flowers are a delightful sight in summer, its electric blue berries that emerge in autumn really pop against the oranges and golds of the season’s scenery. To increase the volume of berries, plant a different variety of Viburnum shrub nearby to encourage cross-pollination.

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center -dwarf lilacDwarf Korean Lilac

This classic flowering shrub is smaller than most cultivars, reaching a max of 6 feet tall and 7 feet wide. It tolerates full or partial sun, and it appreciates regular watering if you aren’t getting much rainfall. It bursts into bloom in mid-May, with those signature soft purple flower panicles that fill the air with a soothing aroma. Dwarf Korean Lilac is ideal for low hedges that don’t block sightlines.

To explore even more phenomenal flowering shrubs in Moultonborough, visit Stephens Landscaping Garden Center and see all the magnificent varieties ready to be planted this spring. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates and featured products.

It’s Time for Spring Clean-Up in Moultonborough!

Garden Center · Landscape Maintenance

Spring cleaning isn’t just for your closets and cupboards! Doing a thorough clean-up of your landscape every spring is important—after all, patio season is about to begin! Plus, it’s an opportunity to go through your yard and identify any problem areas that need attention. 

Add These Outdoor Tasks to Your Spring Clean-Up Chore List 

Grab your waterproof boots, garden gloves, and Bluetooth speaker, pick a good musical motivation playlist, and let’s tackle this spring landscape chore list!

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center -raking thatchDethatch and Aerate the Lawn

After a snowy winter, grass can get pretty matted, and the soil may be compacted. To dethatch your lawn, run a rake through the grass to tear up the tangles. Now it will be able to grow lush and thick. While you have the rake, this is a good opportunity to clear any sticks or debris lying around. 

To aerate the lawn, use a spike aerator or plug aerator to make holes in the soil, introducing oxygen and loosening the ground. These holes will allow moisture to drain properly so that the roots of your lawn and garden plants won’t sit in stagnant water and develop mold. Good drainage is essential for healthy spring growth! 

Prune Winter Damage

If any of your shrubs or trees sustained damage over the winter, trim them off with sterilized shears. Be mindful about pruning healthy growth on your landscape plants to reshape them—some late-blooming plants like to be pruned in spring, but if you prune your spring-blooming plants, you’ll lose all those nice flower buds. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center -wheelbarrow of mulchReplace Old Mulch 

Mulch naturally breaks down over time, which is great for your soil, but it can start to look a bit funky in the spring after the snow melts. Gently clean it out with a rake—be careful not to damage your garden plants in the process—and spread a fresh layer. We have plenty of mulch here at Stephen’s Landscaping Garden Center; if you need help finding a good color match, you’re welcome to show us a picture of what you’re looking for, and we can get you the perfect product. 

Freshen Up Your River Rock

River rock is a more long-term alternative to mulch, but it can still break down over time. If the rocks in your landscape still have some life, you can wash them with the hose on a spray setting. If it’s looking a bit worse for wear this spring, you can replace it with a fresh batch! 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center -pressure washing deckPower Wash the Hardscapes

Power washing the patio, pavers, and driveway is an excellent opportunity to survey the whole area and see if there is any damage you’ll need to fix, spots that need touch-ups, or materials that need replacing. If there are any repair jobs you aren’t confident you can pull off by yourself, bring in a picture of the project to our garden center, and we’ll help you figure out a game plan. 

Keep an Eye Out for Pests or Fungus

Dealing with pest and fungus problems in the spring will be much easier than tackling them in the summer once they’ve gotten considerably worse! Keep an eye out for these signs in your lawn or garden plants:

  • Discoloration
  • Cottony coating
  • Visible bite marks in foliage
  • Dead patches or rings in the grass

Depending on the issue, you may be able to use an all-natural, organic solution, but sometimes severe issues may require chemical fungicides or insecticides. Ask our experts for advice if you’re unsure of how to proceed. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center -cutting perennialsCut Back Your Perennials

We recommend cutting back old plant material from your garden perennials to a few inches above the ground; this will help allow for a new, healthy flush of spring growth, uninhibited by the leftovers from last year. If there are no signs of disease or fungus in the trimmings, you can toss them in the compost bin.  

If you want to go beyond just a simple spring clean-up in 2022 and would like to do a significant landscape redesign and rejuvenation, you know who to call; we can help you choose the perfect plants for your garden designs and projects! Visit Stephen’s Landscaping Garden Center to explore your options for sprucing up your outdoor space. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates and featured products.

The Best Native Plants for Your Landscape

Garden Center

Much of our childhood is attached to the scents, smells, and sights of the native plants around us. They’re like old friends who we’ve known our whole lives. We can get to know them even better by growing them in our landscapes

There are countless benefits to growing native species in your gardens. They’re more resilient to disease and pests and less maintenance, and they provide eco-friendly habitats for native insects and bees and the plants themselves. Here are a few of the many beautiful choices to get you started!

New England Asters

These are one of several native asters that grow in the woodlands of New Hampshire. You’ll recognize them by their vivid fuchsia petals that shine like stars in the undergrowth. They’re late to the scene, blooming in August and September. They feed the butterflies and bring you fresh blossoms just when you thought the summer was coming to a close. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center - butterfly bushButterfly Weed 

These bright yellow and orange perennials and their close relatives, milkweed, are highly attractive plants for butterflies. They’re essential for monarch butterflies who migrate from Canada to Mexico every year as the primary food for monarch caterpillars. They bloom generously from early summer to early autumn in the garden and thrive in full sun. 

Wild Columbine

Wildflowers don’t have to take up a lot of space to add beauty to your garden. Wild columbines only reach 10″ in height and bloom with nodding red and yellow flowers. They feed the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds for eight weeks or more in the spring, supporting local ecosystems. They thrive in rock, shade, woodland, and naturalized areas, making them a versatile addition to your landscape

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center --liatris blazing starBlazing Star

These essential plants for native wildlife grow in dry woodlands, open meadows, and sand dunes in New England. They display impressive wands of purple flowers in mid-to-late summer. Many native butterflies and moths are attracted to them, especially to the New England Blazing Star, and songbirds eat the seeds in autumn. It’s a feast for pollinators and absolutely gorgeous in your garden!

Native Ferns 

The Hay-Scented Fern, the Sweet Fern, the Cinnamon Fern, and the Lady Fern are just some of the many native ferns that you can add to your eco-friendly garden. They each have slightly different fronds and thrive in moist, partial shade. They also provide good coverage for birds that forage on the ground, keeping them safe from predators as they eat. Their rich green leaves are sure to add texture and visual interest to your garden. 

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center -phlox in gardenWoodland Phlox

Phlox is a popular garden flower, but not many people know there are native phlox species as well. These violet-blue wildflowers grow in regions from Québec to Florida and bloom in the spring. You can grow them as a compact perennial or ground cover in dappled shade. When you plant the native phlox, you’ll attract more native pollinators, as they have co-evolved with these species.  

American Elderberry 

This eco-friendly, native shrub is known for its clusters of white flowers in May and dark purple berries that mature in late summer. Elderberries are food for all kinds of native birds throughout the fall and winter. Plus, they are a highly sought-after berry for teas, jams, and any cooked preserves. Make sure to cook them first, as elderberries are toxic to humans when they are raw!

Stephens Landscaping Garden Center - button bushButtonbush 

This eco-friendly shrub wins the award for the most intriguing flower. In August, the white globes of nectar-rich filaments bloom profusely, feeding hummingbirds and pollinators. Other birds use the shrub for nesting and feed on the seeds in the fall. Buttonbush grows well in moist soil and reaches a mature height of 4-7 feet, perfect for low line privacy and yard separation. 

From less maintenance to an increase in biodiversity and natural pest control, native plants are an excellent option that is eco-friendly, resilient, and just plain beautiful! Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates and featured products.