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Try planting strawberries, clover and saponaria as ground covers to attract and benefit pollinators

Clusters of tiny, light purple flowers cover a patch of lawn.
Rock soapwort or saponaria is just one ground cover to plant in between trees, shrubs and perennials instead of using bark mulch or grass. The benefits are many: fewer weeds, less watering and more pollinators.

Planting a pollinator garden is a great addition to a yard, but if you're low on space, consider replacing grass with these ground covers that are just as attractive and beneficial to pollinators.

If space in your yard is limited for planting another pollinator garden, look in between! You might have small swaths of space between shrubs, trees and big perennials where different ground covers could go.

Those spots where you might normally use wood mulch or let grass grow, instead, plant ground covers like strawberries, clover and saponaria.

Wild and alpine strawberries especially make great ground cover. Cultivated strawberries grow well in between hedgerows, shrubs and bigger perennials like peonies, too. And if you go with alpine strawberries, they'll keep flowering throughout the summer.

Another ground cover to try is called rock soap wort or saponaria. It's a low-growing ground cover with pink or white fragrant flowers. This cover works well in a rock garden in full sun and well-drained soil.

If you're planting clover as a ground cover, do note it can be aggressive, so pair it near trees and shrubs where it can fill in spaces with its beautiful white flowers that pollinators can't resist. Clovers bloom all summer, and the plant fixes nitrogen and stays green during a drought.

Planting these ground covers means you'll do less watering and weeding, too. Plus, they won't compete with your other plants. The biggest benefits by far, though, are the flowers that bloom, which will attract pollinators.

How much coir is the right amount to add to potting soil?

Q: You answered a question about water retention or lack thereof in houseplants and recommended adding coir to the potting mix. What's the ratio of potting mix to coir? I ended up with some stuff that is incredibly porous! - Beth, via email

A: Coir is very porous, so aim to mix it in along with something else for different soil uses. For instance, if you're adding coir into soil for seed-starting, also add in some perlite and vermiculite, along with some sand.

House plants need to have more heft in their soil, so try a 50/50 mix of coir and a sterile compost, perlite and vermiculite to help with aeration and water retention.

It may take some trial and error when finding the right balance of coir, but keep mixing and you'll find the right recipe for your soil uses!

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send us your toughest conundrums to and join the fun. Or better yet, leave a voicemail with your gardening question so we can use your voice on the air! Call Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Listen to All Things Gardening Sunday mornings at 9:35 a.m., and subscribe to the podcast to listen any time.

A previous version of this headline included a misspelling of saponaria. It has been updated with the correct spelling.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.