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Ground Cover

It's a cover up!

I’ll let you into a secret. There’s a cover up going on! Luckily for our readers I’m going to spill the beans. Follow me into the dark underworld of ground cover...

For the busy gardener, time is precious so anything that reduces work and helps the plants at the same time must be a good thing. This is where ground cover comes into its own. Ground cover generally means any plant that can block out light to the soil which in turn prevents weeds from germinating.

For sunny places try Ceanothus thyrisiflorus repens or Rosmarinus ‘Prostratus’, both blue flowered evergreens that spread sideways. For shadier parts Cotoneaster dammeri and the perennial Euphorbia robbiae will both provide low canopies to cover the soil.

It’s not just plants either, there are a number of materials for creating barriers against weeds. Whilst you can always pave large areas, loose material ground cover helps to cut down on weeding and reduces water loss due to evaporation from the soil on sunny days.

If you’ve got the balance of plants just right and want something to put down as a mulch, chipped bark provides an ideal solution when laid thickly between plants. It slowly breaks down so needs replacing after a few years but will feed the soil and make it hard for weeds to get a foothold. For the more adventurous, you can try shingle for that Mediterranean look.

For really outstanding results, invest in landscape membrane which you can place between the soil and the shingle. This allows the water to soak through to the plants where’s its needed but stops most weeds getting through.

The secret to ground cover is to keep it simple to help plants thrive and show them at their best. Use only few varieties so the eye doesn’t become distracted from what’s going on up above. If you use mulch, don’t skimp with it. Block out the light and you’ll block out the weeds. That’s one cover up worth shouting about.