The Q&A Archives: Ground Coverings

Question: I am looking for a fast spreading ground cover for a large, mostly shaded tree line on a hill with some sort of flower or color to it. I do not want anything prickly. How much would I need to start a good spread for approximately 1,000 square feet? I tried some ivy a few years ago. And it hasn't spread quick enough or full enough. I would prefer something with some color instead of the ivy.

Answer: Vinca minor is a glossy evergreen ground cover with blue flowers in the spring. It will spread nicely and fills in thick once it becomes established. It does not climb so it is well suited for use near trees. Keep in mind that the ivy will also spread well once established. With any groundcover, it is important to keep the planting watered, weeded and mulched with organic mulch for the first year or two until it fills in. You can plant starters of Vinca (or ivy for that matter) at a foot apart for fastest coverage and about 18 inches apart for reasonable coverage in a few years, but can also be set up to two feet apart if budget is tight or the planting is backbreaking -- depending on your budget you could set out 1000 plants, at one per square foot. They will grow better and fill in faster based on the care they receive. Also, if you can dig each plant a generous sized planting hole and work in some compost for each hole, that will help them off to a good start.

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