Groundcover plants are often forgotten in garden or landscape design until a problem occurs such as erosion. Here you will learn about ground cover plant varieties that are most commonly used to solve problems in the garden and landscape.
Vinca, both vinca major and vinca minor, is one of the most versatile groundcovers. It grows in both full sun and shade. An evergreen, vinca forms a mat securely attaching to the soil. The sprouts grow, fall over and form a new root system where they touch the ground. Vinca major grows taller, in the 12 inch and up range, before falling to the ground, whereas, vinca minor is a shorter tighter grower. While either plant variety can become invasive when left to grow without any control measures, they can generally be grown within confined spaces with some maintenance.
The English Ivy and Baltic Ivy, also, grow in both sun and shaded spaces, but do require more attention when planted near foundations, as they are dedicated climbers. Their climbing causes long-term damage, whether on larger plants or buildings, so preventative measures should be taken, such as pruning some of the taller growing sprouts. With that said, ivy is a beautiful groundcover and a great choice for shaded landscape settings.
With the many varieties of pachysandra available, there is sure to be one that will work in most any situation. Pachysandra terminalis is most commonly used but the variegated and Green Sheen varieties are now becoming more widely available to offer more choices. Growing mostly in areas of partially sunny to filtered shade, pachysandra will get off to a slower start compared to vinca or ivy.
Truly underused is ground cover euonymus. Often called wintercreeper, there are many different varieties with as many different looks. Purple wintercreeper is the most common variety. The Euonymus Woolong Ghost is really interesting with its dark green leaves spiked with white veins. The Woolong Ghost is mat forming and can climb if given the opportunity. The Euonymus Kewensis offers tiny green leaves and is an excellent creeper. The Kewensis really shows its talents when planted in spaces where it can drape over such as retaining walls or rock gardens. Creeping euonymus varieties grow in full sun to partially shaded areas.
Typical spacing for ground cover plants is 12 to 18 inches apart. Bare root plants can be planted 6 to 8 inches apart for a quicker fill in.
When planting on sloped areas, use an independent sprinkler, the type that attaches to a hose. The sprinkler will need to be run until water soaks down several inches. The time for this will vary so it is best to check the soil each time it is run. How often to water will depend on local factors, but in many cases should be done every 3 to 5 days after planting for the first 6 to 8 weeks for the plants to fully establish a newer root system and begin growing. Checking the soil allows you to monitor and make the proper adjustments. If the soil is extremely dry after 3 days, you may need to water every 2 days instead. Rainfall isn’t dependable and often just runs down the surface of the ground without being absorbed into the soil.
Mulching around groundcovers can be difficult, especially on sloped areas. For sloped areas, I recommend putting down a thin layer of straw. The straw will protect the young new plants from the sun’s heat, heavy rainfall, which can wash bare root plants out of their holes and down the hill, as well as keep the soil cool and moist. Straw decomposes and helps to build up the soil. Once the plants have fully established and are beginning to grow any remaining straw can be removed and mixed into other areas of the garden or landscape.
Whether you choose vinca, ivy, pachysandra or groundcover euonymus, these groundcover plants are going to be the best choices for the job. With limited amount of care and maintenance, they are quick to establish a newer root system and begin new top growth on their way to solving your landscaping problem.
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