No More Mowing! Plant Ground Covers
There's no limit to how far homeowners will go to pamper their
lawns--fertilizing, watering, mowing, and treating them with chemicals--to
achieve that status symbol of a thick carpet of turfgrass. Although most of
us seem to be stuck on grass, more gardeners are discovering groundcovers as a
low-maintenance alternative to lawncare, says Lindsay Bond Totten of the
Scripps Howard News Service.
There are plenty of species, evergreen and deciduous, to choose from in
addition to the traditional ivy, myrtle and pachysandra. Woody and herbaceous
plants both work well. Many groundcovers have already stood the test of time
in Nature's garden as successful native plants. They are hardy and drought
resistant. Groundcover also is a good choice where drainage is a problem--it
helps to hold the soil and thrives in those hard-to-plant areas.
Some of the low, creeping plants native to temperate eastern climes are ideal
as domestically grown groundcovers. Some tend to be hardier than ivy, myrtle
or pachysandra. Here's a sample of just a few:
Canby's Mountain Lover (Paxistima canbyi) is a southwestern Pennsylvania
native and attractive evergreen that can thrive under the worst conditions,
from thin, rocky soils to prolonged drought. It's disease and pest-resistant,
too. Canby's is not a favorite of deer, so marauding herds will either pass
you by or choose something else from the menu. And don't pass up it's rugged good looks
which surpass the beauty of Juniper. Canby's Mountain Lover does grow slowly
but that can be a virtue.
Alleghany Spurge is a native form of Pachysandra with large, dark evergreen
leaves (permanently green but not needles) and winsome flowers. Many
ornamental gardeners prefer it to the more common Japanese variety. Just
remember that Alleghany Spurge is less adaptable than Pachysandra--it needs
rich, humus soil and shady conditions. Green-and-Gold (Chrysognodum
virginicum) is a semi-green alternative that turns brown only in the coldest
For good soil nutrition, let the leaves decay on the ground. Spring is prime
time for planting but potted plants can be put in the ground just about any
time. Check with your local nursery for the best species for your particular
climate, soil, growing conditions and landscaping needs.