Ask a Question forum: Ground cover

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pwade
Oct 26, 2016 2:57 PM CST
Hi. I have a large backyard with two large hills. Both hills are in full sun and are nothing but weeds now. The hills are about 40 to 50 yards long and about 15 feet from bottom to top.

We want to plant ground cover that looks nice and will kill off the weeds. We originally were going to use Virginia Creeper but we have two dogs and we found out they are dangerous for dogs due to the crystals in the leaves and stems. So, we are trying to find another good option.

Sedums seem to be a possible option. I just cannot find anyplace that says how much they will spread. Will they spread 3 or 4 feet and stop or will they keep spreading as long as I let them? I would imagine I will need to start out with a few plants but my hope is I will not need a lot and they will spread enough to eventually cover all that area.

Does anyone have good information pertaining to Sedums or maybe some other options that might work better for us?

Thank You!
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Oct 26, 2016 3:03 PM CST
Hello pwade and welcome to garden.org. We will need to know where you are to be able to advise you on suitable plants. Please fill in your profile with your location including city/state/country? Just a zone doesn't help much.

Couple more questions - is there irrigation on your hills or are you looking for drought-tolerant plants? In any case you need to be able to irrigate to get new plants established. If they don't have a good deep root system by next summer, they will just fry. So fall planting is a great idea if you are still able to plant where you are.

Also, do you want all one type of groundcover? That's a very large area to plant in one thing. A "monoculture" is a bit of a dangerous way to go, since if something goes wrong you could lose the whole thing. Various types of groundcovers, mixed into a tapestry effect can be beautiful and much more sure of success, too.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Oct 26, 2016 3:12 PM CST
I agree

Also....
sedums aren't going to crowd anything out....

As nice as some of the stone crops look, they aren't as drought hardy as all that in my area.

In fact, to grow them at all, I would need to put down a thick layer of wood chips after removing the existing vegetation... and they would need to be in a bit of shade....

so....
where you are, some pics of the slopes with close-ups of the existing plants... would give us some idea of what to recommend.

your sedums will root from the stems and keep growing, but it takes time... ice plants are similar in appearance, with nicer blooms... but it's just too dry at my house to grow them.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Oct 26, 2016 3:58 PM CST
We do need to know what climate you live in to make recommendations. Here in So. Ca. there are several types of ice plant that make great slope covers, but they only work in mild winter zones, so give us a clue.

pwade
Oct 26, 2016 4:43 PM CST
Thank you for your responses. I live in Arvada Colorado, a suburb of Denver. I think having a few options to plant would be nice so it is not all the same. We do have a sprinkler system for regular watering come spring time but I can certainly do what I need to do as far as getting them extra water until they are established. If it helps, the hills are pretty steep, very difficult to mow on and probably dangerous to mow which is a big part of why we are landscaping them. We have bordered the top and bottom of the hills with small boulders and landscaping timbers and will grow the ground cover between.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Oct 26, 2016 7:39 PM CST
A picture would still be really helpful. How's the soil?

I just returned from visiting in Salt Lake, and it's still warm enough there for planting but you're a little bit colder, possibly. You could try a few things to see how they do through the winter. If you mulch thickly over the root area, they may do just fine.

If you hurry, there are a lot of plants on sale right now, as the nurseries like to clear stuff out before winter. We got 50% off some pretty variegated Euonymous at Home Depot this week. Its a little more of a very low shrub than a groundcover, but might make a very nice contrast plant.

My daughter also has dogs, and planted red clover as a large scale groundcover at her previous house. It's safe for dogs and very pretty. Lush looking when it rains a lot or if you water it through the hot weather but it's drought tolerant and blooms if you don't mow it. The flowers attract butterflies.

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Oct 26, 2016 9:39 PM CST
Hello and welcome.

Did you just move to this property? If so, you might want to think about what's actually growing there.
Are you sure that what you currently have are 'weeds'? Could they be native grasses? Long, long ago I lived in Evergreen. Altho Evergreen is at a little higher elevation than Arvada, if my memory is working, I don't recall seeing many 'weeds' around. Just what I would call a native landscape.

Are there a lot of bare spots? It is true that Mother Nature doesn't like to be nekkid. You might see if there's an Ag Extension nearby or maybe Master Gardeners that could give you local advice.

btw @dyzzypyxxy, love the picture of the clover.



pwade
Oct 27, 2016 10:08 AM CST
Here are pictures of one of the hills we are wanting to grow ground cover on and images of the weeds growing on it now. Most of it is actually grass but there are still lots of weeds.

The soil is mostly clay in Colorado. It is very dry here. We will certainly need something that can handle drought conditions even though our sprinkler system will water the hills a few times a week. The hills are steep enough that they do not stay moist for long.


pwade
Oct 27, 2016 10:12 AM CST

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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Oct 27, 2016 11:46 AM CST
Horse herb is very drought tolerant, but it will go dormant in the winter.
Porkpal

pwade
Oct 27, 2016 4:37 PM CST
I've done some research on Ice Plant, Delosperma to be exact. It looks like it is a great option for this area. I guess the only question is if it will spread across what is already there? Does anyone know if it will grow over the grass that is ther and any weeds if those weeds are pulled or cut short?
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Oct 27, 2016 5:19 PM CST
I doubt it would smother the existing weed, but it does spread well and is dense enough to prevent and seeds from sprouting.
(Zone 8a)
RobinM
Oct 27, 2016 5:41 PM CST
I live in the northern tip of South Carolina and I have the same issue. I planted sedum but they didn't keep the weeds out and they seem to grow too slowly to crowd them out even if they would once they spread. I've had some luck with ice plant. They spread pretty quickly but don't seem to be invasive. I've also found them to be fairy drought tolerant in my area. I never water them and this summer we were in a drought from early July until really present and they are still doing good. Purslane will grow quickly and spread quickly (and it's gorgeous) but it is invasive here. I had some of those in hanging baskets only and I've been pulling them out of my flower beds, on the other end of the yard all summer. Good luck! I'm going to follow this thread and see what ideas come up.
He who plants the seed beneath the sod and waits until it pushes through the clod, he trusts in God.
Name: Barbalee
Amarillo, TX (Zone 6b)
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Barbalee
Oct 27, 2016 5:52 PM CST
Welcome! RobinM!!
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pwade
Oct 27, 2016 6:14 PM CST
Virginia Creeper was what I first thought would work. I have read about the needle like crystals in the leaves that are troublesome for dogs but are there any other invasive vines like Virginia Creeper that would be more pet friendly?
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Oct 27, 2016 6:42 PM CST
Question please. Do the dogs regularly play on these two hills? I am trying to picture my own dogs and thing that anything with a strong vine for a stem could actually cause the dogs harm if they were to get tangled. It will be necessary for you to walk on the hills to do weeding, fertilizing and maintenance so keep that in mind also. I once planted Blue Rug Juniper on a slope but ouch and oops, it was difficult to walk the area.

Whatever you decide to plant, it will be necessary to first remove all the existing weeds before planting.

Since I don't know what plants you like I found a list of low-water ground covers for sun.
http://extension.colostate.edu...
As you are making your selections check each plant against a list of plants toxic to dogs.

Good luck.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"

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