The Q&A Archives: Low Maintenance Ground Cover

Question: My fraternity would like to plant some ground cover of some sort in a plot in front of the house porch. We need something that is cheap, highly resilient (to trampling, weeds, and other abuse), low-maintenance (doesn't need to be watered, trimmed, etc.), and at least somewhat visually attractive. Any suggestions? Remember, none of us are gardeners, and we need something that will fend for itself.

Answer: Sounds like you need a cast-iron plant! Once groundcover completely fills in an area it will crowd out most weeds, so plan to keep weeds pulled until you have a nice, thick cover. Some of the low growing plants suitable for groundcover that can take some foot traffic include Ice Plant, Wooly Thyme, Ajuga (Carpet Bugle) and Fragaria (Wild Strawberry). Start your plants out right by removing all weeds and debris from the bed and digging in some organic matter to help the soil retain moisture. Use peatmoss or aged-manure, spread it over the bed to a depth of 3"-4", and dig it into the top 6"-8" of soil. This should create the perfect home for your new groundcover plants.

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