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Ground covers are a great way to prevent soil erosion, stop unwanted weeds in gardens and reduce the amount of watering needed for your plants. Ground covers can be used in any garden or landscape type, but they are especially beneficial in areas you want to keep soil from washing away during heavy rains. They also provide an attractive alternative to grass. Installing ground cover plants is easy. Weeds are a nuisance for any homeowner. With our ground cover plants, you get all of the benefits of ground cover without any downsides. They are easy to maintain, require no weeding or mowing, and look great year-round. When you need more privacy in your yard or want to reduce erosion on steep hillsides, these plants will give you an instant boost with zero maintenance required!
Perennial vines are the perfect choice for covering banks to prevent erosion, filling in space around other plants, or providing natural beauty in place of grass. Two favorites are Partridge Berry and Periwinkle.
Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens)
Partridge Berry is an attractive, low-maintenance, woodland ground cover with ornamental foliage that grows two to three inches high.
This perennial creeping vine has slender, trailing stems 12 inches long with dark evergreen leaves. In late Spring, small, fragrant, tubular flowers appear. The blooms grow in pairs from May to July and may be white or pink.
Pollinated flowers form showy scarlet berries, which attract wildlife such as partridges, other birds, and small mammals. Partridge Berry prefers well-drained, humus-rich, acidic soil and will grow under acid-loving shrubs.
Partridge Berry prefers partial to full shade and grows well in Zones 3 through 8. This beautiful ground cover is suitable for shady borders and rock gardens. Partridge Berry establishes slowly but is well worth the wait.
Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
Periwinkle is easy to grow, challenging, and pest-free, with glossy green leaves and pretty purple flowers. It spreads quickly, making it a beloved ground cover. Blooming in May and June, it reaches a mature size of three to six inches in height with trailing vines that get up to 18 inches long.
Periwinkle likes partial sun to full shade and thrives in well-drained, normal, sandy, or clay soil. Hardy in Zones 4 through 8, Periwinkle spreads rapidly to fill in space, cover large areas, and prevent weeds from taking over. You can plant Periwinkle under big trees, where grass would not grow well due to sunlight. Because Periwinkle will root and spread, it can help hold the soil in place, making it a good choice for banks or hillsides to prevent erosion.
Vine describes plants that grow through stems that extend outward, sometimes climbing along surfaces like trees and homes. While their stems are also known as vines, common usage has left the term almost always referring to grapevines. "Climber" is commonly used for any plant with wall-scaling vines. Vines climb various vertical surfaces, including poles, strings, lattices, and walls. Vines typically produce a woody stem as they mature, giving them the strength to climb higher and spread wider. Their branches of leaves and flowers give extra coverage as they spread farther on surfaces.
Home gardeners who want to add greenery to a trellis or front porch should consider adding climbing vines to their yard. These plants are beautiful, easy to grow, and some are aromatic. Here are some examples of climbing vines that work well in any landscape setting
Bishop's Weed: Bishops weed, also known as snow on the mountain, is a super hardy variegated ground cover. Its delicate bright green foliage with white trim makes it a unique feature in a garden. They are high spreaders and cover unsightly areas in landscaping or where you can not keep mowed and maintained well. They hide ground debris and weeds.
Garden Phlox: Garden phlox is a beautiful lavender ground cover that turns pink in low alkalinity soils in late summer. It's versatile and makes a carpet-like appearance full of delicate blooms covering the entire plant. Perfect for planting on hills or near rocks to gently climb and bloom all summer long.
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Trumpet Vines is another great hardy one that can be trained to climb primarily because they tend to grow towards the sun.
When preparing your vines to climb fences or a trellis, interweave the new shoots through the openings as they grow. If you are training vines to twine around masonry or trees, you can attach a wire to the structure at the base for the vine to climb. Taking just a little time to train your vines will bring big rewards. Your fence or other arrangements will have good coverage as these plants grow upwards.
Best Ground Cover Plants for Shaded Areas
There are many plants to choose from when considering ground cover for shaded areas. A few species survive best in fully shaded environments. Here we will detail the top 5 plants to grow in a shaded spot that provides ground cover. One of our favorite full shade plants is the English Ivy plant. These plants are often used for ground cover and will survive best in partially to fully shaded environments.
They require moist soil and bloom in the fall. The leaves of English Ivy plants are bright green with a hint of white or yellow. This species has Ariel roots which allow it to climb to extreme heights, up to 50 feet in the air. Overall this type of plant survives best in moderate climates that avoid extreme heat or cold.
Another top pick for fully shaded ground cover is Vinca Minor Periwinkle plants. This species is known for its beautiful flowers and full-cover foliage.
These will only grow to be a few inches tall. However, they can bear long vines. Vinca Minor Periwinkle plants survive best in whole shade areas and bloom in the early Summer months. These tend to take over an area, so keep a careful eye on them. It is recommended to plant them with few to no other species.
Pachysandra Procumbens is another brilliant option for shaded ground cover in your garden. These are considered a low-maintenance option and grow to be about a foot high.
They require a mostly shaded area and a moderate amount of water. You can expect them to bloom in early Spring and show some white flowers. Pachysandra Procumbens spread slowly and eventually formed colonies. Too much sunlight can hurt the health of these plants, so make sure there is plenty of shade.
A popular choice for shaded ground cover plants is Phlox plants. These plants produce gorgeous blue, pink, white, and red flowers. They grow best in sandy soil and a generous amount of shade.
These are expected to bloom in late Spring and early Summer. Not only do Phlox plants provide adequate ground cover, but they also attract bees and butterflies due to their natural color and scent.
Our final top pick is Trumpet Vine plants. These beautiful plants are easy to grow and can also attract hummingbirds. This species produces red, orange, and pink flowers that are very appealing to the eye.
Trumpet Vine plants survive best in well-drained and shaded environments. These plants can be invasive if they are around other species, so make sure to place them in a separate area to grow without disrupting different plant lives.
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The Best Plants To Use For Soil Erosion
A form of soil degradation is Soil Erosion displaces the top layer of soil on the earthen ground. This topsoil can be displaced for several reasons, including wind, water, and mass movement.
Hillsides are particularly vulnerable to erosion, as are windy areas unprotected by tall plant cover or trees. Half of the earth's topsoil has disappeared due to erosion in the last 150 years.
In your yard, soil erosion can be equally dangerous. Erosion degrades the nutrient content of affected soil and the salinity, severely limiting the number of plants that can thrive in the soil.
Salinity and nutrient deficiency in soil can render a previously healthy patch of soil inhospitable to many plants, and anything planted will struggle to thrive.
It can lead to increased levels of pollution, the sedimentation and clogging of rivers and streams, and dehydration of soil. Untreated soil erosion can also cause flooding, which leads to a myriad of damage, as any homeowner knows.
Fortunately, many effective practices can prevent soil erosion and restore an affected soil bed. Planting suitable vegetation will restore and repair eroded soil to its original quality, ensuring the soil will maintain other, more particular plants in the future.
Ground cover plants are helpful due to their extensive root systems, which help keep soil in place. Hardy, low maintenance plants are best to combat soil erosion, as they will be able to flourish in soil that has become degraded in quality.
Once composted back into the soil, they will raise the nutrient quality. Plants also can break solid winds and prevent them from eroding the soil. Maintaining plant cover is essential to keeping soil in place, and perennial or evergreen plants will ensure that the soil remains in place season after season.
Additionally, choosing plants with extensive and deep-growing root systems will ensure that the topsoil is not simply held by itself, like a blanket over the deeper ground, as this can result in the entire layer of topsoil being blown away by water or wind.
Tn nursery provides high-quality plants, and our mail-in online nursery is a convenient and educational resource for your specific needs. The following are three of our top options in your fight against soil erosion. All are drought-resistant ground cover plants with little to no maintenance and are therefore ideal soil treatment methods.
The first option is the excellent English ivy plant, a climbing evergreen known to be an effective air purifier. As an English ivy plant requires very little maintenance and spreads quickly, it grows in many different soil types. An attractive option, English ivy provides lovely green leaves that provide complete cover and rarely need pruning. English ivy looks excellent around trees, climbing up the side of a house or fence, or even as complete ground cover in an area of your soil that needs to be fully restored. You can buy it here.
You may also consider vinca minor plants, more commonly known as Periwinkle. The delicate sky-blue or pale lavender flower of these plants make it a fantastic option for a ground cover that is effective as it is charming.
The minor vinca plants are also drought-resistant, making them an ideal choice for soil that has lost moisture due to erosion. These beautiful plants prefer sunny areas but tolerate shade well, making them ideal for covering large areas, including spots under trees.
It also does well in the winter and may even survive snow, making it a good choice for eroded soil, which needs to be held in place year-round. They are conveniently available from Tn nursery here.
The pachysandra procumbens, also known as Allegheny spurge, is a shrubby ground cover that can reach a foot in height. This plant tolerates shade and sun and is drought-resistant but bleached in harsh, direct sunlight.
A pretty feature of the pachysandra procumbens is its fragrant white flowers, which bloom in early Spring. This plant is an excellent option for not severely parched soil and needs to be kept in place in heavily shaded areas. It requires minimal care, is low-maintenance, and it is available here.
For alternative options, Tn nursery has provided you with a list of available ground cover plants whose search is customization for your area and climate zone.
Aside from plants, mulching is another effective method of combating soil erosion. If soil erosion affects a hillside area, contour farming or terracing is also an option.
Silt fencing or terraseeding are also possibilities for cases that demand a bit more. Also, be aware that the soil drainage of the affected area may need to be improved.
These methods can effectively combat soil erosion and replenish moisture and nutrients to the affected soil in combination with thoughtful plant cover.