How to Grow: Groundcovers as Food

Learn how to grow and care for groundcovers for food and for fertilizer for your trees.


Groundcovers are beautiful plants that cover the ground with greenery and flowers. They help reduce weeding and protect the soil from drying out. Plus, they look nice. Vinca, ivy, pachysandra and sweet woodruff are just some of the most popular ground covers. But I like to grow edible ground covers. They do all the things I just mentioned. They look good and you can eat them, too.

Instead of just mulching under my trees in the lawn I grow mint and strawberries. Now I know mint can be invasive but I don’t mind having it close to my lawn because every time I mow, I might mow off some mint and I love that fresh mint smell. While June bearing strawberries are nice, because of the runners they produce they make great ground covers.

I like alpine strawberries, too. They come in white, yellow, and red fruited varieties and most grow into a small mounding habit. They’re great in the front of the garden or in containers. But for groundcovers, I like the variety of ‘Atilla’ alpine strawberry. It does form runners and quickly spreads to fill in an area. It produces delicate, tasty, little red fruits. If you don’t want to eat them the squirrels, birds and chipmunks will love to take them off your hands.

Another way I like to use edible ground covers is to mine minerals in the soil for my fruit trees. Comfrey is a medicinal herb that features aggressive growth and a strong tap root system. Most people avoid growing comfrey because it becomes invasive, especially if you till up the roots. But under fruit trees it performs a critical function. The roots mine nutrients deep in the soil, bringing them up to the leaves. After the bees have enjoyed the flowers and pollinated them, I cut down the leaves and leave them as a mulch around the drip line of the tree. This mulch brings nutrients up to the surface where the feeder roots can use them. Comfrey is so vigorous I can cut the plant back two to three times during the growing season without harming it.

So consider using edible ground covers, instead of regular ones. These are beautiful in the landscape, they cover the soil protecting it, and you get some tasty fruits, too.

Go here for more on edible groundcovers.