choosing groundcover plants
1. Use groundcovers instead of paving
2. Use steppers through lawn alternatives
3. Keep well weeded
4. Monitor mulch levels near small groundcovers
5. Monitor climber groundcovers carefully
6. Mix species for ground patterns of colour and texture
Groundcover plants have important design and environmental functions in the garden.
Establishing good groundcover means that competing weeds are suppressed, soil erosion is slowed, more water gets in and stays in the ground; and the garden has a soft, living canvas too. These plants effectively perform the same functions as mulch. And if it doesn't have to be walked on, covering the ground with plants is cheaper and greener than paving.
Turf grasses are the ultimate groundcover, creating expanses of low space - or voids - that simplify and open designs; and that can also be fairly heavily used and trafficked.
Nothing else wears as well as grass but for light foot traffic areas - and especially where it's too shaded for turf - lawn-alternative groundcovers can substitute; even better if relieved with stepping stones.
These prostrate plants of various heights naturally trail, run and creep out across the ground. Low matting plants are particularly ground-hugging, with stems that put roots down into the soil as they spread. The lower - and looser - the groundcover, the more opportunity other plants will have to colonise and out-compete your plants. Keep an eye out for weeds popping up among matting plants and remove any quickly.
Mulch thickness should also be monitored and reduced for low groundcovers that resent the reduction in air circulation and sun exposure when encroached by mulch.
Some climbers - left without any supports - can also effectively spread themselves as groundcovers but can easily get out of control without supervision and maintenance.
Small clumping plants steadily divide and knit together but many are needed to create a massed planting as a groundcover.
Groundcover plants that contrast in texture or colour can be arranged to create patterns on the ground plane - especially effective where they're viewed from above.
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Plant of the Day
Bailey's Cypress Pine
Plant type: evergreen tree or conifer
H: 15m W: 3m
Sunlight: hot overhead sun
Donnah, East Corrimal NSW
Mulch! It retains moisture, suppresses weeds and helps retain soil moisture. I always use newspaper underneath and in very weedy areas I use cardboard instead.
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