The Q&A Archives: gound cover

Question: We need help with what ground cover will grow beneath a row of 5 pine trees on a 40 degree hillside approximately 4 feet in in height. We live in western NY state.

Answer: It is difficult to get anything to grow beneath pines because of their shallow roots and propensity to suck up any available moisture. If you still want to try to establish a ground cover, I'd experiment with several different plants and see which one does well before investing in a large number of plants. Lily-of-the-valley may grow if the soil stays moist all summer. Another option is Vinca minor (periwinkle), which is evergreen and has blue flowers. Neither of these plants does well with long term flooding, however. Another possibility is English ivy (Hedera helix). Although this last does not bloom, it is the more tolerant of diverse conditions and might do the best in that location. There are many different varieties of English Ivy available, some with variegated leaves that could brighten up the area.

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