The Q&A Archives: Crown Vetch or Phlox

Question: We have a cottage in the mountains which we visit a couple times a month during the summer. A very sunny and weed covered hillside causes much trouble for cutting grass and is quite unsitely. We are considering planting crown vetch or phlox to cover the hillside. We need something that fills in quickly, needs little care, and grows thick enough to discourage the weeds. Which would be better?

Answer: Crown vetch is now considered to be a noxious weed in many areas because it is invasive and difficult to control. Unfortunately, many plants that are commonly used as groundcovers because they spread quickly are now out of favor (and some are banned outright) because they escape from cultivation and crowd out native species.

If the area isn't too large, I would consider tamer plants. Phlox is one option but it needs reasonably moist soil; you could also try daylilies or yarrow, or creeping juniper. If the area is large and out of view, you might leave it alone to provide habitat for wildlife.

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