General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Are all ground cover plants also invasive plants?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19036points) April 17th, 2011

Isn’t the invasive part what makes them good ground cover?

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18 Answers

incendiary_dan's avatar

No, invasive simply means that it isn’t native to an area, and it readily displaces natives. They can grow at various “levels”, including ground. Ground cover plants can be natives, like clover.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@incendiary_dan I thought invasive meant it grew out of control.

gailcalled's avatar

Some, like myrtle, bishop’s weed, veronica, forget-me-nots, mint,sweet woodruff, bee balm and creeping jenny will blanket your yard, house and surrounding fields with no trouble.

Others, like ajuga, lily-of-the-valley (shade) and vetch, creeping thyme, low campanula (sun) take their time…sometimes.

A wonderful magical ground cover is squill, a little bulb with a blue flower. I planted a few in a contained area and now have thousands of them across grass, paths in woods, and rough areas. A gorgeous fellow

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@gailcalled So how do I find out if they’re so invasive that they’ll prohibit other things from growing? Because I love ground cover, I think it makes gardens looks so pretty where dirt and wood mulch don’t, but I don’t want them to strangle my basil.

creative1's avatar

I find phlox is a great one for not over taking things it come in a few different colors and blooms in the spring.

gailcalled's avatar

Do a lot of research online, or describe your various gardens, soil-ype, exposure to sun and wind, rainfall, and zone to us.

We’ll help.

For example, I have a lot of old field where poison ivy grows. Gradually (and carefully) I have planted and transplanted the stuff that takes over – myrtle and creeping jenny (both of which flower in the spring) and bee balm do nicely.

I also experiment. When something runs amok, I rip it up. Ground cover grows horizontally and as such, has shallow weeds. It is easy and satisfying to yank it up by the yard.

However, I live in a rural area and like my gardens ungroomed and unsuburban. When things surprised me, I usually let them do their thing.

Today, for example, I see this through the rain.

3 That low green stuff is ground cover; in June the boring stalky things on front right and left will be pink roses.

PS. Never, never buy ground cover. Gardeners love to give that stuff away. PIty that you don’t live near me.

gailcalled's avatar

^^Gotta rush off, chére, I’ll be back later.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I live in Denver, CO, in the city. I have a couple of patches in my back yard that are 20–30 feet long by 1–3 feet wide. That’s it (plus pots). Zone 4, virtually no rain, ever (but I water every day), “Denver soil is typically high in clay and silt and low in organic material”, one patch gets probably 8 hours of direct sun a day with a few more indirect hours, the other patch gets 2–3 hours of direct sun, and then 7–8 of well, I’m unsure of the difference between indirect sun and shade.

I love untamed gardens and cottage gardens, I just don’t want to strangle any other plants or ruin my neighbors’ gardens.

Shadey side
Sunny side

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Your garden is so pretty

faye's avatar

I think you could grow daylilies by the fence where the car is, and bleeding hearts, iris and peonies. These things are perenial and the lilies, iris and bleeding heart will spread some by sending out new babies. A clematis vine or two would look nice climbing your fence and sweet peas give instant happiness when you smell them. You just need some chicken wire stapled on your fence.

gailcalled's avatar

^^Good plan, but remember that the garden is only as good as the soil. You must amend what looks like crap with either dried manure from the garden store (expensive) or compost that you make from your vegetative garbage.

A width of one foot will not support daylillies, peonies or iris. They need more room for the root system.

Some tough plants are black-eyed susan, phlox, mallow, bee balm and Russian Sage (all of which bloom in high summer).Do some research online, or better yet, draw your beds to scale and take the sketch and a soil sample to your local garden center.

And I would look at tough, narrow and tall plants rather than spready and bushy ones (Like peonies, which are my favorites.) But ask someone knowledgable at the garden center. Or your neighbors who have already done the research and wasted money.

Put tomatoes and basil in big pots in sun. Stake, feed, de-bug. That’s it.

You are in for a satisfying and enduring adventure. Have fun

Ground cover in those narrow spaces is a bad idea; you will want all your nutrients and light to go to supporting your perennials.

gailcalled's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs: Check out the dozens of gorgeous examples on the left at the Denver Gardens site:

I would hotfoot it over to York St. and check things out. There is every kind of garden you can imagine; shade, sun, cutting, herb, bees and butterflies, perennials, annuals, lilac, low-maintenance… go and drool. Take a notebook and pen.

faye's avatar

Maybe our plants don’t have enough season to get so big @gailcalled. Lots of us have those plants in that forgotten strip left by the fence, or right along the side of our houses. That’s mostly where I see them. Zone 3. Or maybe our soil is good a longer ways down. The oldest builings here are 1905ish so lots of years of compost and buffalo poop.

gailcalled's avatar

It never huts to try, I always say about gardening. But, then, I also say that it would have been cheaper to skip the middle man and simply plant the money.

Trial and error is always the key, within reason. I can’t remember how may expensive plants and small trees were eaten, to the ground, by the deer.

My sister and I live about four miles apart but I have very acidic soil and hers is alkaline. So she grows larkspur, delphiniums, gorgeous roses, herbs that reseed themselves and poppies.

I do better with the acid loving plants.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I would build raised beds along your fence line, and fill with the mixture for square foot gardening. Having that downspout come onto the dirt like that creates a mess on your pavement and would wash out anything its path. It would make sense to put in two rain barrels, and connect a soaker hose to the spigot to water the bed. That way, you’re not wasting the water. Beds are easy to build because they don’t need to be deep. Use boards that are 1 inch thick and 12 inches high. Lowes or Home Depot can cut the wood for you to the depth of the bed.. For the corners have a piece of 2×2 cut into 12 inch lengths. Attach the boards to the 2×2 at the corners, and you’re good to go. Big Lots has landscape fabric for $5 a roll that can be used to line the bottom of the bed.

gailcalled's avatar

@BarnacleBill: Now that’s a plan that makes sense. Is 12” of improved soil deep enough?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@gailcalled It probably is crap, but I did rip out a whole bunch of sunflowers, so don’t judge it just based on the lack of green.

BarnacleBill's avatar

12” works really well. Most plants have relatively shallow root systems and will spread out. 18” and you can plant potatoes.

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