The Q&A Archives: non-flowering hillside ground cover

Question: I would really appreciate advice on my hillside that was completely covered by

Answer: I don't understand your gardeners' thought about red apple being too heavy. Perhaps he meant too thick - in which case it could have been selectively thinned rather than completely removed. A thick groundcover will suppress weeds so I'm still a bit confused about his advice.

There are many plants you can use for groundcover. These include Five-leaf Akebia, Japanese Barberry, Crown Vetch, Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei), and English Ivy. For my money ? or yours ? one of the best solutions is an evergreen groundcover: something with an obedient and predictable growth habit, and an attractive year-round appearance. Think juniper. There are literally scores of procumbent juniper species, and similar conifers, which will happily bask in the hottest sun, stretching across your hillside.

Among the most common and popular junipers used as groundcovers are the creeping junipers(Juniperus horizontalis), slow to medium-growing shrubs, which form dense, aromatic mats between 12 and 18 inches in height, extending trailing branches from four to eightfeet across, depending on the cultivar. Most feature either soft or prickly scale-like bluish-green foliage, which often "bronzes" once hit by cold winter temperatures. But don't worry, they will "green up" again in the spring as air and soil temperatures warm up. Blue Rug or 'Wiltoni' is probably the most popular juniper sold. It hugs the ground at four to six inches, and provides coverage up to eight feet in diameter. Other popular cultivars offer a Mardi Gras parade of colors and shades, from gold to green to purple, in a range of heights. Favorites include 'Bar Harbor,' which is similar to Blue Rug, although more colorful in winter, the bright green 'Emerald Spreader,' four-to-six inch tall 'Prince of Wales,' gold-variegated 'Mother Lode,' and 'Pancake,' lowest of the low at two-to-three inches. 'Blue Star'(J. squamata) is a taller, different species, featuring cool blue foliage, and a pyramidal growth habit. This selection will generally stay below two feet in height, but can reach three feet, with only a two to four foot spread.

Hope one of these suggestions is just right for your sunny hillside.

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