What's the best groundcover for...

supernnylMarch 20, 2012

I have several areas in my yard the get about 4-5 hours of sun each day. I would like to plant an evergreen groundcover. I'm considering periwinkle (Vinca minor) and English ivy.

Which of these two is the most aggressive / spreads most quickly? For that matter, does anyone have suggestions for another evergreen ground cover that can tolerate a good amount of shade...and spreads quickly?

Any information will be very appreciated.

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yardvaark

Where are you located? And what size area are you trying to cover?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 11:10PM
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supernnyl

I live in Atlanta, and I'm trying to cover one area that's about 6x15 and another area that's about 7x35.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 11:24PM
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maureeninmd(z6 MD)

The groundcovers you mention are pretty thuggish and will expand beyond the desired area unless you carefully keep them in check. The ivy can look really ratty. I have spent countless hours (days, actually) trying to eradicate it.

My favorite evergreen groundcover is geranium macrorrhizum. It always looks great. It has evergreen, pine-scented foliage and pink flowers in late Spring. It thrives in dry shade but will not spread aggressively. It is very easy to divide up so that you can spread it around yourself.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 12:11PM
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yardvaark

I lived in Atlanta for many years. Ivy is king of large scale evergreen groundcovers there. I had it in two yards... where the ivy portions were approx 1/4 acre each. I cannot say enough good about it and think that it is one of the best, most useful plants ever to come along. Used in the correct place and managed properly, it's a dream. Used in the wrong place or mismanaged, it's a nightmare. Also, you can't allow it to grow on a building structure so that's a consideration. Your small area is too small for ivy. Your larger area too small to borderline. (Not that you can't do it. Just that it will probably require more edging.) However, and there's not data on this so you'd have to experiment, I did see Ryan Gainey using florist type fancy-leaved ivy in small locations and getting away with it. It's diminutive and seems to be less aggressive. It was very good looking. But then, Ryan Gainey could make a dog turd look delicious. There are many variegated and curly-leaved ivies. (A person would want to use a matching variety throughout.) One more reason to like ivy is because it's basically free. It's so easy to root cuttings. (This is how I got my 2nd quarter acre of it!)

Whether it was the heat and humidity I don't know, but early on while living in Atlanta I planted a slope behind my house (approx. 40' x 9' in medium shade) with Vinca minor. Even with good care, it languished and petered out. I replanted the whole area and got the same result again. The stems rotted at the crown so I believe the problem to be fungal. After two years of trying, I changed it to ivy and couldn't have been more satisfied with the results. Using a sharp flat spade (like a knife) ivy can be edged fairly quickly. I only had to hand trim (with hand pruners the 10' side where it abutted a building. About twice per summer so, I thought, much easier than cutting grass. If one gets lazy, the edge of ivy can be slowed greatly with Round-up. I you spray and then cut the following week, what grows back is much less vigorous.

And this is true for all groundcovers, if one allows weeds to infest them, they will look like crap. Groundcovers must be maintained free of weeds. I've seen lots of English Ivy in my time and I've never seen it look ratty, except where weeds were allowed into it. But this is hardly the fault of the ivy. Ivy grows at uniform height and covers without bald spots. It takes sun or shade. However, in full sun, it will need additional nitrogen to insure that it doesn't develop a yellowish cast.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 3:01PM
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supernnyl

Thanks to everyone for the feedback...much appreciated!!!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 10:57AM
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