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Ground Cover for Lazy Gardeners

April 30 2010

Grass is high maintenance. It has to be groomed, fertilized, weeded, debugged, watered generously, and then cut all over again.  And it doesn’t always grow in evenly. It can get too much sun or shade that can leave bald spots in your lawn.

Why not look at other ground covers? Ground covers are there to help you hold on to your dirt, which in turn stabilizes the foundation of your home. They can include grasses, shrubbery, mosses, ivy or even wild flowers.

You might think that ground covers only serve to fill in empty spaces in your lawn,  but planting a ground cover can be highly beneficial to you and your garden. Ground covers help to lessen soil erosion, and with its extra foliage, it can provide a great source of oxygen in urban areas- helping to lessen pollution.

Knowing the benefits are great, but with all of the options available how do you know what kind of ground cover is right for you?

Hone the zone

Ground covers other than grass aren’t maintenance-free, but the right choice in the right part of your yard or garden can add more than it takes away in time and upkeep.

First you’ll need to identify some things about your own garden starting with where you are in America, or which “zone” live in. The zone system, developed by the USDA, is based around the climate conditions a given area experiences throughout the year, from zone 1 to zone 11.

These zones, according to garden.org, are helpful to gardeners who are making decisions on what to plant so that they can know what will flourish year after year and season to season. In other words, if you live in a colder zone, like a 2 or a 3, then a plant that would do well in a warmer zone, like an 8 or 9, would not deal well with the colder climate and weather conditions.

To choose the right ground cover for each area, consider how much sun the area gets so you can plan how much to water, and how much foot traffic there will be so you can choose for hardiness. 

Ground covers for lawns

An open expanse of lawn, especially shaded areas, can look beautiful with ground covers other than grass.  Consider how well your ground cover stands up to foot traffic and if it will need to be trimmed.

Ground covers that are vines that creep along and spread across the ground can cover bald spots that sun-loving grass leaves. You can choose a flowering vine such as periwinkle, which delights with its blue flowers,  or an aromatic ground cover like winter creeper thyme, with its sweet scent.

Liriope, or monkey grass, is sturdy and flamboyant and does well in sun or shade. 

Ground covers for gardens 

If you’re growing a vegetable garden then a great ground cover would be an edible herb, like chives or oregano. If you’re just trying to fill up space, gardeningabc.net suggests picking vegetables that produce long vines like cucumber, grapevine, and even pumpkin to work effectively.

The last thing you should consider when picking a ground cover is the amount of direct light your garden will or will not receive throughout the day. If you have a full or partial shade garden then plant what will thrive best for those condition. Just the same, if your garden will be exposed to

constant light throughout the day then plant what will be able to handle those conditions.
If you have more specific questions not covered here, consult a local nursery, where they can answer your questions as well as make suggestions appropriate to your home.

For more information, visit www.groundcover.com.