The Q&A Archives: Rocky soil

Question: I bought a vacation place that has VERY rocky soil. Is there a ground cover of some kind other than lawn that I could use? We are only there on weekends, so cannot water all the time. It is at about 3200 feet, and mountainous.

Answer: Several easy care perennials can make a nice ground cover. One I particularly like is nepeta because it is a very undemanding plant, sprawls nicely, has soft gray foliage and lovely blue-purple blooms which complement the roses. You could also try nearly any of the assorted varieties of sedum or perhaps a mass planting of a lower growing veronica such as "Goodness Grows." Annuals might bring some spots of color during the season. Try marigolds in a pale cream, creeping zinnias in white, or any of the blooming periwinkles or annual salvias. If the soil is truly dry you might want to work in plenty of organic matter both for the roses and the groundcover since this will help improve the soil's water holding capacity. Also be sure to mulch throughly as this will help keep the moisture level more constant as well.

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