50 Best Plants
for Prairie Urban Gardens
in Southern Alberta
www.prairieurbangarden.ca
www.oldmanbasin.org
OWC
OLDMAN
WATERSHED
COUNCIL
watershed management – watershed health
A Prairie Urban Garden is a yard or garden that
follows the 7 principles of xeriscaping. They are attractive
and have a low environmental impact because they are
designed and maintained in harmony with our dry prairie
environment. Xeriscaping principles allow people to
create beautiful, drought tolerant and low maintenance
gardens right here in southern Alberta!
The 7 principles of xeriscaping are:
1. Plan and design
2. Improve the soil
3. Create practical turf areas
4. Water efficiently
5. Choose appropriate plant
6. Use mulch
7. Maintain your xeriscape
Visit www.prairieurbangarden.ca for:
Ÿ
More detailed information about each plant
Ÿ
A list of where to buy the plants
Ÿ
The 7 principles of xeriscaping in more detail
Ÿ
Photos of local Prairie Urban Gardens
Ÿ
Resources to help you get started!
The plants in this booklet were chosen based on:
1. High tolerance to drought, 2. Available to
purchase at local shops, 3. Native to local area,
4. Low maintenance, 5. Visually appealing.
Every plant may not meet these criteria perfectly
but overall is a great choice for your yard.
Prairie Plant Categories
Wild Flowers ...........................................1 – 10
Brown-eyed Susan or Blanket Flower, Dotted Blazing
Star, Purple Coneflower, Wild Bergamot, Showy
Jacob's Ladder, Threadleaf Tickseed or Moonbeam
Tickseed, Spike Speedwell, Prairie Coneflower or
Mexican Hat, Autumn Joy Sedum or Showy Stonecrop,
Round-leaved or Richardson's Alumroot
Trees .....................................................11 – 21
Limber Pine, Colorado Blue Spruce, White spruce,
Round-leaved Hawthorn, Amur Maple, Green Ash or
Red Ash, Black Chokecherry, Bur Oak, Swedish
Columnar Aspen, Western Mountain Ash, Flowering
Crabapple
Shrubs ...................................................22 – 31
Ninebark, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Mugo Pine, Thorny
Buffaloberry or Silver Buffaloberry, Blue Juniper,
Golden Currant, Skunkbrush Lemonade Sumac or
Three-lobed Sumac, Soapweed or Yucca, Red Osier
Dogwood, Silver Sagebrush
Grasses .................................................32 – 41
Blue Grama Grass, Feather Reed Grass, Blue
Oatgrass, Switch Grass, Idaho Fescue, Junegrass,
Prairie Dropseed, Needle and Thread, Little Bluestem,
Indian Ricegrass
Ground Covers .....................................42 – 51
Kinnikinnick or Bearberry, Pink or Rosy Pussy-toes,
Hens and Chicks, Stonecrop, Creeping and Common
Juniper, Moss Phlox or Creeping Phlox, Western
Yarrow, Thyme, Lamium, Deadnettle or Spotted
Deadnettle, Three-flowered Avens, Prairie Smoke, or
Old Man's Whiskers,
1 • WILDFLOWERS
Brown-eyed Susan or Blanket Flower –
(Gaillardia aristata)
A self-sowing native flower that grows in
clumps.
Height: 60-76cm (24-30”)
Spread: 30-46cm (12-18”)
Flower colour: Yellow or yellow with
burgundy.
Flowering period: Mid-summer to fall.
Deadhead to prolong flowering.
Habitat: Full sun. Well drained soils.
Maintenance: Clip to ground level in
March before green up. Divide every few
years to maintain plant vigor.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
general plant nurseries.
WILDFLOWERS • 2
Dotted Blazing Star – (Liatris punctata)
A tall flower sometimes called gayfeather.
Height: 30-76cm (12-30”)
Spread: 30-45cm (12-18”)
Flower colour: Pinkish purple or white.
Flowering period: Late summer to early
fall.
Habitat: Full sun. Well drained dry soils.
Maintenance: Clip to ground level in
March before green up. Divide every few
years to maintain plant vigor.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
general plant nurseries.
3 • WILDFLOWERS
Purple Coneflower – (Echinacea
angustifolia)
Several cultivars of this flower are
commonly available.
Height: 45-70cm (18-28”)
Spread: 45-60cm (18-24”)
Flower colour: Purplish pink.
Flowering period: Mid-summer to mid
fall. Deadhead to prolong flowering.
Habitat: Full sun to very light shade. Well
drained soils.
Maintenance: Clip to ground level in
March before green up. Divide every few
years to maintain plant vigor.
Availability: Native plant suppliers,
general plant nurseries or seasonal
garden centres.
WILDFLOWERS • 4
Wild Bergamot – (Monarda fistulosa)
Has a lemon-mint aroma and is
sometimes called bee balm.
Height: 38-76cm (15-30”)
Spread: 45-60cm (18-24”)
Flower colour: Purple, pink or red.
Flowering period: Mid to late summer.
Habitat: Prefers dry to moist, well
drained soils.
Maintenance: Clip to ground level in
March before green up. Allow for air
circulation around it. Clip off leaves
infected with powdery mildew. Divide
every 4-5 years to maintain plant vigor and
prevent overcrowding.
Availability: Native plant suppliers,
general plant nurseries or seasonal
garden centres.
5 • WILDFLOWERS
Showy Jacob's Ladder – (Polemonium
pulcherrimum)
An early bloomer that self-sows.
Height: 20-60cm (8-24”)
Spread: 30-45cm (12-18”)
Flower colour: Purplish blue with yellow
centre.
Flowering period: Mid spring to early
summer and late summer to early fall.
Deadhead to prolong flowering.
Habitat: Full sun to moderate shade. Dry
to moist soils.
Maintenance: Clip to ground level in
March before green up. Allow room for
expansion because self-sowing.
Availability: Native plant suppliers,
general plant nurseries or seasonal
garden centres.
WILDFLOWERS • 6
Threadleaf Tickseed or Moonbeam
Tickseed – (Coreopsis verticillata,
Coreopsis verticillata cv. 'Moonbeam')
Native cultivars with fine textured foliage.
Height: 30-45cm (12-18”)
Spread: 30-45cm (12-18”)
Flower colour: Yellow.
Flowering period: Peaks in early to
midsummer but continues in fall.
Habitat: Full sun to light shade. Poor to
average well drained soils.
Maintenance: Clip to ground level in
March before green up.
Availability: General plant nurseries or
seasonal garden centres.
7 • WILDFLOWERS
Spike Speedwell – (Veronica spicata)
Non-native that is also available in a
creeping form.
Height: 40-45cm (16-18”)
Spread: 30-45cm (12-18”)
Flower colour: Blue, purple, pink or red.
Flowering period: Peaks in early to
midsummer but continues in fall.
Habitat: Full sun to moderate shade.
Well drained, dry to moist soils.
Maintenance: Clip to ground level in
March before green up. Divide every 3-4
years to maintain vigor and reduce
crowding.
Availability: General plant nurseries or
seasonal garden centres.
WILDFLOWERS • 8
Prairie Coneflower or Mexican Hat –
(Ratibida columnifera)
A native flower with a tap root.
Height: 30-60 cm (12-24”)
Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18”)
Flower colour: Yellow.
Flowering period: Early July to mid
August.
Habitat: Full sun. Dry loamy to gravelly
soils.
Maintenance: Clip to ground level in
March before green up.
Availability: Native plant suppliers,
general plant nurseries or seasonal
garden centres.
9 • WILDFLOWERS
WILDFLOWERS • 10
Autumn Joy Sedum or Showy Stonecrop
Round-leaved or Richardson's Alumroot
– (Sedum spectabile) 'Autumn Joy'
– (Heuchera cylindrica) and (Heuchera
richardsonii)
A non-native hybrid that flowers into the
fall.
Height: 45-60cm (18-24”)
Spread: 45-60cm (18-24”)
Flower colour: Pink, deepens to red in
fall.
Flowering period: Late summer-early
fall.
Habitat: Full sun to light shade. Will
tolerate sandy, rocky or gravelly soils.
Maintenance: Clip to ground level in
March before green up. Divide every 3-4
years to maintain vigor and reduce
crowding.
Availability: General plant nurseries or
seasonal garden centres.
Also known as coral bells and available in
a wide range of cultivars.
Height: 7-8cm (18-20”)
Spread: 3-4cm (8-10”)
Flower colour: Creamy or pink.
Flowering period: Early to mid summer.
Habitat: Full sun to light shade. Well
drained, sandy, gravelly or rocky soils.
Maintenance: Clip to ground level in
March before green up. Divide every 3-4
years to maintain vigor.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
general plant nurseries.
11 • TREES
TREES • 12
Limber Pine – (Pinus flexilis)
Colorado Blue Spruce – (Picea pungens)
Evergreen tree with blue-green needles
and brown cones.
Height: 8-9m (26-30')
Spread: 5m (16')
Habitat: Full sun. Well drained, rocky
soils.
Maintenance: Low. Do not try to change
uneven silhouette.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
general plant nurseries.
Evergreen tree with blue to bluish-green
needles and brown cones.
Height: 30cm-20m (12”-26')
Spread: 60cm-8m (2'-26')
Habitat: Full sun to partial shade. Well
drained soils.
Maintenance: Low. Pruning may be
required only to tidy it up.
Availability: Widely available.
13 • TREES
White spruce – (Picea glauca)
Evergreen tree with green needles.
Height: 18m (59')
Spread: 6m (20')
Habitat: Full sun to partial shade. Well
drained soils.
Maintenance: Low.
Availability: Widely available.
TREES • 14
Round-leaved Hawthorn – (Crataegus
chrysocarpa or Crataegus rotundifolia)
Small tree with white or pink flowers in
spring and prominent thorns.
Height: 5m (16')
Spread: 4m (13')
Habitat: Full sun to partial shade. Well
drained soils.
Maintenance: Low. Does not require any
significant pruning to maintain its shape.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
general plant nurseries.
15 • TREES
Amur Maple – (Acer ginnala)
Small deciduous tree that produces red
fruit in fall.
Height: 5-6m (16-20')
Spread: 3-4m (10-13')
Habitat: Full sun to light shade. Dry to
moist soils.
Maintenance: Once trained as a tree it
will not need any significant pruning to
maintain its rounded canopy.
Availability: General plant nurseries and
seasonal garden centres.
TREES • 16
Green Ash or Red Ash – (Fraxinus
pennsylvanica)
Large deciduous tree with oval canopy.
Height: 15m (49')
Spread: 8-10m (26-33')
Habitat: Full sun to very light shade. Well
drained soils are preferred.
Maintenance: Low. Tree must be
provided adequate space to reach full
maturity.
Availability: General plant nurseries and
seasonal garden centres.
17 • TREES
Black Chokecherry – (Prunus virginiana
var. melanocarpa)
Small to medium sized deciduous tree with
white flowers in spring.
Height: 7.6m (25')
Spread: 4.6m (15')
Habitat: Full sun. Well drained soils.
Maintenance: Requires some regular
care and attention.
Availability: General plant nurseries and
seasonal garden centres.
TREES • 18
Bur Oak – (Quercus macrocarpa)
Large deciduous tree that produces
acorns.
Height: 15m (49')
Spread: 12m (39')
Habitat: Full sun to partial shade. Well
drained soils.
Maintenance: Low. Tree must be
provided adequate space to reach full
maturity.
Availability: General plant nurseries.
19 • TREES
TREES • 20
Swedish Columnar Aspen – (Populus
Western Mountain Ash – (Sorbus
tremula 'Erecta' )
scopulina)
Tall, narrow deciduous tree perfect for
creating privacy.
Height: 9-12m (30-39')
Spread: 2m (7')
Habitat: Full sun. Well drained soils.
Maintenance: Low. Fast growing.
Availability: General plant nurseries and
seasonal garden centres.
Medium sized tree with clusters of white
flowers in spring.
Height: 5.5-10m (18-33')
Spread: 5m (16')
Habitat: Full sun to light shade. Grows
in most soils.
Maintenance: Low. Produces orange
berries.
Availability: Native plant suppliers.
21 • TREES
Flowering Crabapple – (Malus x
astringens cultivars)
Small deciduous trees with white, red or
pink flowers.
Height: 5.5-10m (18-33')
Spread: 5m (16')
Habitat: Full sun. Well drained soils.
Maintenance: Moderate. Pruning is best
done late in winter.
Availability: General plant nurseries and
seasonal garden centres.
SHRUBS • 22
Ninebark – (Physocarpos opulifolius)
Large shrub with several leaf colour
options.
Height: 1.8–2.4m (6–8')
Spread: 1.8–2.4m (6–8')
Flower Colour: White.
Foliage Colour: Burgundy, copperyorange, purplish-red, golden-green.
Flowering Period: Late spring to early
summer.
Habitat: Full sun to partial shade. Dry to
moist, loam to sandy soils.
Maintenance: Low. Prune after
flowering.
Availability: Plant nurseries or seasonal
garden centres.
23 • SHRUBS
Shrubby Cinquefoil – (Dasiphora
floribunda or Potentilla fruticosa)
Low shrub with irregular branches.
Height: 60cm-1.2m (24”–4')
Spread: 90cm-1.2m (36”- 4')
Flower Colour: Native - yellow. Cultivars
- white, orange, pink or yellow.
Foliage Colour: Green leaves.
Flowering Period: June – September
Habitat: Full sun to partial shade. Welldrained loam to sandy soils.
Maintenance: Low. Prune after
flowering.
Availability: Native plant suppliers,
general plant nurseries or seasonal
garden centres.
SHRUBS • 24
Mugo Pine – (Pinus mugo)
Variable species that can be a dwarf sized
shrub, large shrub or small tree.
Height: 60cm-3.7m (24”–12')
Spread: 90cm-2.0m (36”-6'6”)
Flower Colour: Brown cones.
Foliage Colour: Green needles.
Habitat: Full sun to light shade. Welldrained loam to sandy soils.
Maintenance: Low. Prune late May early June.
Availability: Seasonal garden centres
for large, general plant nursery for dwarf.
25 • SHRUBS
Thorny Buffaloberry or Silver
Buffaloberry – (Shepherdia argentea)
A native shrub with edible fruit.
Height: 2.6m (8'6”)
Spread: 2.6m (8'6”)
Flower Colour: Yellow. Red berries in
late summer.
Flowering Period: Early spring.
Foliage Colour: Grey-green to silver.
Habitat: Full sun. Very well-drained loam
or sandy soils.
Maintenance: Minimal pruning. Tends to
sucker.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
general plant nurseries.
SHRUBS • 26
Blue Juniper – (Juniperus scopulorum)
An evergreen that comes in several sizes.
Height: 3–6m (10-20')
Spread: 90cm-1.8m (36”–6')
Flower Colour: Bluish-white, berry-like.
Foliage Colour: Blue to bluish-green
needles.
Habitat: Full sun. Well drained soils.
Drought tolerant once established.
Maintenance: Low. Prune late May –
early June.
Availability: Native – uncommon.
Cultivars - general plant nurseries or
seasonal garden centres.
27 • SHRUBS
Golden Currant – (Ribes aureum)
A native medium sized shrub with edible
fruit.
Height: 1.8m (6')
Spread: 1.8m (6')
Flower Colour: Yellow.
Flowering Period: Mid-spring.
Foliage Colour: Green. Orange in fall.
Habitat: Full sun to partial shade. Welldrained loam, sandy, or gravelly soil.
Maintenance: Low. Prune during
summer after flowering.
Availability: Native plant suppliers and
nurseries or general plant nurseries.
SHRUBS • 28
Skunkbrush, Lemonade Sumac or Threelobed Sumac – (Rhus trilobata)
Native shrub whose fruit can be used to
make lemonade.
Height: 90cm - 1.5m (36”-5')
Spread: 90cm - 1.5m (36”-5')
Flower Colour: Pale yellow.
Flowering Period: Late spring to early
summer.
Foliage Colour: Dark green.
Habitat: Full sun. Well-drained soil.
Maintenance: Low. No pruning required.
Extremely drought tolerant.
Availability: Native plant suppliers and
nurseries.
29 • SHRUBS
Soapweed or Yucca – (Yucca glauca)
Unique, native shrub.
Height: 60cm–90cm (24-36”)
Spread: 60cm–90cm (24-36”)
Flower Colour: Creamy-white.
Flowering Period: June – July.
Foliage Colour: Bluish-green with
narrow white edge.
Habitat: Full sun. Well-drained sandy or
rocky coarse-textured soils.
Maintenance: Minimal once established.
Availability: Native plant suppliers and
nurseries, some general plant nurseries.
SHRUBS • 30
Red Osier Dogwood – (Cornus sericea or
Cornus stolonifera)
Large, native shrub that is highly
adaptable.
Height: 3.0m (10')
Spread: 3.0m (10')
Flower Colour: White.
Flowering Period: Late spring.
Foliage Colour: Green and white
variegated leaves. Red or yellow bark.
Habitat: Full sun to partial shade.
Maintenance: Low. Light pruning.
Availability: Native plant suppliers and
nurseries, general plant nurseries.
31 • SHRUBS
GRASSES • 32
Silver Sagebrush – (Artemisia cana)
Blue Grama Grass – (Bouteloua gracilis)
Native, evergreen shrub that smalls like
sage.
Height: 60–120cm (2-4')
Spread: 60–120cm (2-4')
Flower Colour: Yellow.
Flowering Period: August – September.
Foliage Colour: Silver.
Habitat: Full sun. Well-drained loam or
sandy soils.
Maintenance: Limited pruning of old
wood to improve vigor.
Availability: Native plant suppliers and
nurseries.
Native grass with distinct eyelash shaped
flowers.
Height: 30–45cm (12”)
Spread: 30cm (12”)
Flower colour: Burgundy – purple at
maturity; green in early season.
Foliage colour: Short curly green
leaves.
Flowering period: Mid to late summer.
Habitat: Full sun, shade intolerant. Well
drained soils.
Maintenance: When used as sod, mow
no lower than 10 cm (4”). When not
mowed, cut back to 15 cm (6”) in spring.
Availability: Native plant suppliers.
When used as sod replacement, should
be purchased as seed and sown at 1.8
2
2
kg/93 m (4 lbs/1000 ft ). Plugs also
available.
33 • GRASSES
GRASSES • 34
Feather Reed Grass – (Calamagrostis
Blue Oatgrass – (Helictotrichon
acutiflora)
sempervirens)
Attractive, tall grass great for adding
vertical interest.
Height: 90–100cm (36 – 39”)
Spread: 45cm (18”)
Flower Colour: Pink – purple in early
season, light brown as it matures.
Foliage Colour: Long, green leaves.
Flowering Period: Early to midsummer.
Habitat: Full sun to partial shade.
Tolerates all soils.
Maintenance: Clip 1/3 of its height in
spring before green up.
Availability: General plant nurseries or
seasonal garden centres.
Non-native grass with vivid blue foliage.
Height: 100cm (39”)
Spread: 30–45cm (12–18”)
Flower Colour: Light brown.
Foliage Colour: Silver-blue to steel blue.
Flowering Period: Early to midsummer.
Habitat: Full sun to very light sun.
Requires well drained soils, will rot in wet
soils.
Maintenance: Clip 1/3 of its height in
spring before green up.
Availability: General plant nurseries or
seasonal garden centres.
35 • GRASSES
GRASSES • 36
Switch Grass – (Panicum virgatum)
Idaho Fescue – (Festuca idahoensis)
Native grass that is admired for its color
change over the growing season.
Height: 120–150cm (47–59”)
Spread: 60–90cm (24–36”)
Flower colour: Green or burgundy.
Foliage colour: Start as green with red
tinge, switching to red or burgundy over
growing season.
Flowering Period: Late summer.
Habitat: Full sun. Likes moist, clay soil
but tolerant of dry soil.
Maintenance: Clip 15 cm (6”) in spring
before green-up and remove litter from
base.
Availability: Native plant suppliers,
general plant nurseries or some seasonal
garden centres.
Native grass best grouped in clusters.
Height: 90cm (36”)
Spread: 25cm (10”)
Flower colour: Green to tan coloured as
it matures.
Foliage colour: Bluish-green.
Flowering period: June–July.
Habitat: Full sun. Well drained soil.
Maintenance: Clip 1/3 of its height in
spring before green up.
Availability: Native plant suppliers.
37 • GRASSES
GRASSES • 38
Junegrass – (Koeleria macrantha,
Koeleria gracilis, Koeleria pyrmidata)
heterolepis)
Native grass that is very hardy.
Height: 45cm (18”)
Spread: 30cm (12”)
Flower colour: Green. Matures to strawtan colour.
Foliage Colour: Greenish-blue.
Flowering Period: Late spring to early
summer.
Habitat: Full sun. Tolerates poor soil of
all types if well drained.
Maintenance: Clip 1/3 of its height in
spring before green up.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
mail order.
Native grass that adds colour in fall.
Height: 60–90cm (24–36”)
Spread: 50–60cm (20–24”)
Flower Colour: Pink with hints of brown.
Foliage Colour: Deep green, through
maturity they become golden with shades
of orange and pink.
Flowering Period: August – September.
Habitat: Full sun. Dry, rocky locations.
Maintenance: Clip back to 15 cm (6”) in
spring before green up. Clear decayed
plant material from base in spring.
Availability: Seed available or mail order
plugs/containers.
Prairie Dropseed – (Sporobolus
39 • GRASSES
Needle and Thread – (Stipa comate)
Native grass with long thread like seeds.
Height: 45cm (18”)
Spread: 30cm (12”)
Flower Colour: Distinct green which
turns to light brown as it matures.
Foliage Colour: Light green.
Flowering Period: Late spring to early
summer.
Habitat: Full sun. Very well drained soil.
Maintenance: Clip back to 15 cm (6”) in
spring before green up.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
mail order.
GRASSES • 40
Little Bluestem – (Schizachyrium
scoparium)
Native grass that adds colour in fall.
Height: 90cm (36”)
Spread: 30cm (12”)
Flower Colour: Pinkish.
Foliage Colour: Light green with bluish
tinge that changes to rusty-orange or
pinkish-red in fall.
Flowering Period: August – September.
Habitat: Full sun. Well drained soils.
Maintenance: Clip back to 15 cm (6”) in
spring before green up.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
mail order.
41 • GRASSES
GROUND COVERS • 42
Indian Ricegrass – (Achatherum
Kinnikinnick or Bearberry –
hymenoides)
(Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
A slow growing but very showy native
grass.
Height: 50–70cm (20–28”)
Spread: 30–45cm (12–18”)
Flower Colour: Green turning to
straw/tan colour.
Foliage Colour: Green.
Flowering Period: Late spring.
Habitat: Full sun. Well drained gravelly
soils.
Maintenance: Clip back to 15 cm (6”) in
spring before green up.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
mail order.
Native, trailing evergreen with red fruit.
Height: 20-30cm (8-12”)
Spread: 60-90cm (2-3')
Flower Colour: Pinkish to white.
Foliage Colour: Dark green.
Flowering Period: Spring.
Habitat: Full sun to partial shade. Welldrained, sandy acidic soils.
Maintenance: Minimal.
Availability: Native plant suppliers and
nurseries.
43 • GROUND COVERS
Pink or Rosy Pussy-toes – (Antennaria
rosea or Antennaria microphylla)
Mat forming native perennial perfect for
rock gardens.
Height: 10-15cm (4-6”)
Spread: 30cm (12”)
Flower Colour: Pink or creamy white.
Foliage Colour: Silvery-green.
Flowering Period: Late spring to early
summer.
Habitat: Full sun. Dry, well-drained soils.
Poor soil conditions.
Maintenance: Minimal.
Availability: Native plant suppliers and
nurseries.
GROUND COVERS • 44
Hens and Chicks – (Sempervivum spp.)
Mat forming non-native perennial with
many colour options.
Height: 7-15cm (3-6”)
Spread: 30–60cm (12-24”)
Flower Colour: Red, pink, yellow, purple
or white.
Foliage Colour: Green, greenish-blue,
purple, red.
Flowering Period: Summer.
Habitat: Full sun. Well-drained, poor
soils.
Maintenance: Very low.
Availability: General plant nurseries or
seasonal garden centres.
45 • GROUND COVERS
Stonecrop – (Sedum spp.)
Forms a dense mat of colourful flowers.
Height: 5-25 cm (2-10”)
Spread: 30-60 cm (12-24”)
Flower Colour: Yellow, pink or rose.
Foliage Colour: Green, bluish-green,
red or purple.
Flowering Period: Early spring.
Habitat: Full sun. Very well-drained loam
or sandy soils.
Maintenance: Minimal pruning. Tends to
sucker.
Availability: Native - Native plant
suppliers and nurseries. Cultivars –
General plant nurseries or seasonal
garden centres.
GROUND COVERS • 46
Creeping and Common Juniper –
(Juniperus horizontalis & Juniperus
communis)
Low, spreading evergreen that needs to
maintenance.
Height: 10–30cm (4–12”)
Spread: 1- 2.5m (3–8')
Foliage Colour: Green, blue, chartreuse,
golden- yellow, silver-blue or bluish-green.
Habitat: Full sun, tolerance to partial
shade. Well drained soils.
Maintenance: Low. No pruning if right
size species selected.
Availability: Native- Native plant
suppliers & nurseries. Cultivars and nonnative- General plant nurseries or season
garden centres.
47 • GROUND COVERS
Moss Phlox or Creeping Phlox – (Phlox
subulata)
Forms a dense mound with abundant
flowers in spring.
Height: 5-15 cm (2-6”)
Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18”)
Flower Colour: Pink, lavender, red, pale
blue or white.
Flowering Period: May to June.
Foliage Colour: Green, needle-like.
Habitat: Full sun to light shade. Dry, welldrained soils.
Maintenance: Low. Trim 1/3 of foliage in
late winter or early spring.
Availability: Native – not available.
Cultivars - common to general plant
nurseries or seasonal garden centres.
GROUND COVERS • 48
Western Yarrow – (Achillia millefolium)
Spreading flower that prefers hot, dry
areas.
Height: 70cm (27”)
Spread: 60cm (24”)
Flower Colour: White, yellow, rose or
red.
Flowering Period: Early to late summer.
Foliage Colour: Green.
Habitat: Prefers full sun, tolerant of
partial shade.
Maintenance: Moderate. Cut back in
spring before green up. Deadhead to
extend flowering. Requires containment.
Availability: Native- native plant
suppliers. Cultivars- general plant
nurseries or seasonal garden centres.
49 • GROUND COVERS
Thyme – (Thymus spp.)
A minty smelling plant that will tolerate foot
traffic.
Height: 2.5–15cm (1– 6”)
Spread: 15-60cm (6-24”)
Flower Colour: Purple, pink or white.
Flowering Period: Late spring to early
summer.
Foliage Colour: Green or variegated
green with white or yellow highlights.
Habitat: Full sun. Poor to average, welldrained soil.
Maintenance: After flowering cut back
1/3.
Availability: General plant nurseries or
seasonal garden centres.
GROUND COVERS • 50
Lamium, Deadnettle or Spotted
Deadnettle – (Lamium maculatum)
A great option for shady spots around
trees.
Height: 15–30 cm (6-12”)
Spread: 30-60 cm (12-24”)
Flower Colour: Pink, purple or white.
Flowering Period: Late spring to late
summer.
Foliage Colour: Deep green, silver or
variegated.
Habitat: Full shade.
Maintenance: Low. Trim to keep tidy.
Requires containment.
Availability: General plant nurseries or
seasonal garden centres.
51 • GROUND COVERS
Three-flowered Avens, Prairie Smoke,
or Old Man's Whiskers – (Geum triflorum)
A unique flower with fern like leaves.
Height: 60cm (24”)
Spread: 30cm (12”)
Flower Colour: Pinky red.
Flowering Period: Late spring to midsummer.
Foliage Colour: Blue-green.
Habitat: Full sun to light shade. Well
drained, loamy to sandy soils.
Maintenance: Low. Cut back to ground
level in late winter or early spring before
green up.
Availability: Native plant suppliers or
some general plant nurseries.
The Prairie Urban Garden project is an initiative of the Oldman
Watershed Council's Urban Team. The Urban Team promotes
good practices for the home and yard because the river starts in
our own backyards. Herbicides, fertilizers and other chemicals
used in yards are showing up in our waterways, affecting aquatic
life as well as downstream users.
The Urban Team also promotes water conservation because we
live in a semi-arid environment where water is scarce and
drought is common. We have an opportunity to be leaders in
demonstrating good water management!
The Oldman Watershed Council is a not-for-profit organization of
southern Albertans that maintains and improves the Oldman
watershed by:
Ÿ
Improving and sharing knowledge
Ÿ
Building and strengthening stakeholder partnerships
Ÿ
Promoting community action and stewardship
Ÿ
Developing and implementing integrated land and water
plans
www.oldmanbasin.org
info@oldmanbasin.org
403-381-5801
A very big thank you goes out to Steve
MacRae for creating this plant list!