The Complete Book of Ground Covers

4000 Plants That Reduce Maintenance, Control Erosion, and Beautify the Landscape

Gary Lewis

Ground covers are widely thought of as utilitarian, but these plants also offer a diverse range of beautiful and intriguing options with a variety of colors, textures, and forms. They can unify a landscape, knit together plantings and hardscape, and add extra layers of beauty, dynamism, and surprise. As a replacement for lawns, they can reduce our use of water, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, carbon-based fuels, and transform a yard into a diverse landscape of habitat and food for native insects, birds, and other wildlife.

In this meticulously researched reference, nurseryman Gary Lewis profiles more than 4000 ground covers that can perform these roles with aplomb. No matter what kinds of conditions you’re facing—shade, dry soil, heavy clay, excess moisture—there’s a ground cover that will thrive and beautify your garden. Comprehensive, practical, and copiously illustrated, this indispensable volume belongs on the shelf of every designer, landscape architect, and serious gardener.

Order Books

You can order signed copies for pick-up or shipping within Canada from Phoenix Perennials. You can order from your favourite neighbourhood book seller with the ISBN listed at the bottom of this page. Or you can order online around the world from your favourite online sources including (but not limited to):

Order Signed Copies from Phoenix Perennials

During the winter season when the nursery is closed you can still order signed copies of the book for shipping and pick-up. For pick-up orders, we will contact you to make an appointment. Staff are frequently on site working behind the scenes. For shipping, the Canada Post shipping deadlines for a package to arrive before Christmas are Dec 13-20 nationally (depending on how far the location is from Richmond), December 19-21 for western Canada, and Dec 21 for Greater Vancouver. Please place your orders a few days in advance of these deadlines.

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“A magnum opus of ground covers that deserves a place in every gardener’s library.”
— Tony Avent, founder and owner of Plant Delights Nursery

“The importance of ground covers in our landscapes should be considered as carefully as the most stately of trees. Gifted nurseryman and plantsman Gary Lewis has done an admirable job in discussing the many advantages of using ground-covering plants while offering a well-researched compendium of both usual suspects as well as unusual choices seldom considered for the job.”
— Daniel J. Hinkley, author of Windcliff, director emeritus of Heronswood

“Ground covers play a critical role with our changing environment in nature, parks and landscapes. Lewis captures the breadth and depth of their important values to us and our planet.”
— Brian Minter, award-winning gardening expert, author, and TV and radio host

“Grasses and sedges are essential in creating better landscapes. Gary understands that, and his coverage of them as ground covers is smart and practical.”
— John Hoffman, founder and owner of Hoffman Nursery

“The Complete Book of Ground Covers takes a sensible approach to these complex plants and gives us encyclopedic information on thousands of them. The chapter on Designing with Ground Covers quickly became a favorite of mine.”
— Marjorie Harris, author of Thrifty Gardening from the Ground Up

“Too much turf? Steep bank? Problem soil or watering regime? The Complete Book of Ground Covers has the answer to these and many more landscape problems with cogent advice and stunning photography.”
— Panayoti Kelaidis, director of outreach and senior curator, Denver Botanic Gardens

“Lewis, the owner of a retail and mail-order nursery, offers this excellent and attractive resource for gardeners, no matter the size of their plot. Opening chapters cover the hows and whys of using ground covers, with most of the book an alphabetical encyclopedia of plants by name. Entries give the botanical and common names, appropriate planting zones, origins of the plant (who knew lily of the valley came from China?), descriptions, growing instructions, and the specific purposes of each plant. That’s all accompanied by truly gorgeous color photos, most of which are credited to the author. While there is a sense of technical completeness to the book, the text has a friendly vibe that conveys a can-do attitude that encourages gardeners at all levels. Most useful are the lists of plants to use for specific conditions such as dry shade, full sun, and rain gardens. VERDICT While the alphabetical order uses botanical names, the index includes the common names and refers to the proper page number. A great purchase for public libraries with lots of gardening patrons, and also for libraries at universities that teach horticulture.”
— Kirkus Book Reviews

About the Author

Gary Lewis has had a life-long interest in plants and gardening. His retail and mail order nursery, Phoenix Perennials, located in Richmond, BC, offers more than 5000 different plants. Gary has written for various garden magazines including Fine Gardening and has been a frequent guest on local and regional radio and television stations in British Columbia. He speaks regularly to garden clubs around BC and the Pacific Northwest and has presented at conferences across North America. In 2013 he was selected as Communicator of the Year by the BC Landscape and Nursery Association and in 2014 as one of Canada’s Top 10 Horticultural Professionals under 40 by Greenhouse Canada magazine. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Perennial Plant Association and is a committee member of Great Plant Picks.

Book Details

  • Publisher: ‎ Timber Press (October 11, 2022)
  • Language: ‎ English
  • Hardcover: ‎ 456 pages, 650 photos
  • ISBN-10: ‎ 1604694602
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1604694604
  • Item Weight: ‎ 1.74 kg

Now booking speaking engagements for public and professional audiences

The Complete Talk on Ground Covers

Plants that reduce maintenance, control erosion, improve the environment, and beautify the landscape

Have Gary speak at your garden club meeting or conference in this companion talk to his encyclopedia The Complete Book of Ground Covers. Gary will highlight the functional and aesthetic uses of ground covers in the landscape including tips and tricks for designing with ground covers to take your outdoor space to the next level. He’ll also discuss the diverse services ground covers can provide to make gardens more sustainable. His talk will be accompanied by a colourful Power Point presentation filled with images from the book. The talk can be followed by book sales and book signings. The talk can be given in-person or virtually online and can be adapted for both home gardeners and industry professionals.