The Q&A Archives: Ground Covers

Question: We have sloped area towards the rear of our home that faces east. The slope area begins at the edge of a 4 inch thick cement patio and drops an elevation of 4 feet on a slope 12 linear feet long and 60 feet wide and leveling off at a boardering grass lawn area. There is a chain link fence that separates the slope area and the grass lawn below. The soil of the slope is mostly hard clay and doesn't receive much water. We fight a continuous battle pulling the unsightly weeds which sprout there throughout the summer.
We are looking for a low maintaintence ground cover solution for this 720 sq. ft. problem area. Are there any ground covers available that could be planted and contained inside this fenced sloping area without invading and overtaking the grass? The lawn is mowed at regular intervals from April to October. We are open to all suggestions.

Answer: There are a number of plants that could be used as a ground cover ranging from the traditional evergreen, blue-flowered periwinkle or vinca minor (kept in bounds by a periodic edging with a shovel) to some of the easy perennials such as creeping phlox (Phlox subulata) or Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) or perhaps daylilies (Hemerocallis) or a creeping form of sedum. In all cases, however, they will establish faster and grow better with less maintenance if you take care to prepare the soil first before you plant by working in plenty of organic matter. In addition, a few inches of organic mulch placed around the plants will help keep down weeds, reduce erosion and help maintian a more even soil temperature and moisture level while they are establishing themselves. Good luck with your project!

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