Saturday, June 6, 2015 By: Ask A Master Gardener

Selecting and Using Ground Covers

Plant groundcover plants in shady spots of your lawn

Lisa Klein: Ask a Master Gardener

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Q: I am struggling to grow grass in some heavily shaded areas in my yard. Besides mulch, what are my options? Susan, Sand Springs

A: For extremely shady and troublesome landscape sites, groundcover plants can be the answer. They are low-growing, usually less than 24 inches high.
Look for groundcovers that will spread quickly and be dense enough to suppress weed growth.

Other areas of the landscape well-suited for groundcover are extremely hot and dry areas, steep slopes or places that are difficult to mow. Groundcovers also provide added visual appeal when used as shrub borders and to soften hardscapes.

Groundcovers come in many sizes, textures and colors. They can be herbaceous, woody succulent or grassy.When making your selections, you should ask yourself some questions. Is my site shady or sunny? Is the soil moist or dry? Do I want something tight and low growing or would something taller look better? Do I want something that flowers or would some variegation be more attractive?

A significant number of plants are often required to establish groundcover, so making smart choices will save money and avoid more problems. Whenever you are working with difficult planting areas, proper site preparation is essential. Many groundcovers prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil. A soil test is always recommended and will indicate if you need any corrections.

A generous amount of good quality organic matter should be worked into the plant site, especially if you have heavy clay soil. Certain groundcovers spread by offshoots or runners and good drainage and aeration will allow plants to fill in more quickly.

Any existing turf grass and weeds should be removed. If necessary, glyphosate herbicide can be used a couple weeks prior to planting. If your space is especially weedy, you might consider using weed barrier fabric.
Depending upon the size area you need to cover and the plant or plants you have chosen, you can calculate the number of plants needed if you know the spacing of the individual plants. Plant a layer of mulch to help control weeds and maintain soil moisture. Continue watering and weeding until groundcovers are well established.

Once established, a groundcover will not be maintenance free, but you should be rewarded with a low-maintenance year-round addition to the landscape.
For additional information, you can access the Tulsa Master Gardener website for groundcovers in the Lawn and Garden section.

Garden tips
Yellow leaves may be due to too much water in the soil. With the deluge of recent rain and the subsequent saturation of the ground, some plants may show damage, often yellow leaves on the lower part of plants. This occurs both in ornamental and vegetable plants.

Commonly, yellowness is due to lack of iron or nitrogen in the soil. However, when the soil is saturated with water, oxygen is forced out of the air spaces and the roots suffocate. This prevents them from absorbing nutrients, resulting in the yellow appearance. As the soil dries out, this problem will correct itself.

Some pests can be hand-picked without using a pesticide. Do not spray if predators such as lady beetles are present. Spraying insecticides early in the morning or late in the day will avoid spraying honeybees and other essential pollinators.


Post a Comment