fast growing ground cover?

northernflwr(3)February 22, 2009

I am a real beginner. I live on top of a bit of a hill...the grass that grows on this slope is really thick and tough and because it's so steep it's a bit of a pain to cut. How would I go about removing it and replacing it with a ground cover do you think...I was thinking some type of wildflower or sweet pea? Cheap and cheerful and I'd have to do all the work myself. Any ideas? Thanks.

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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

If its a big area? RoundUp is your best option. You will need to give it 2-3 applications to make sure all the grass is completely dead. Wait a couple of weeks thereafter and sow your seed or plant your plugs.

Do you like Clover, low Maintenance, needs little to no watering or mowing.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 3:51PM
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I would do as Sharon suggested to get rid of the grass and then I would put in some fast growing ground cover.
There are quite a few different ones that are nice.
I have some "Wooly Thyme" that is very nice. It isn't real real fast growing but does have a very nice texture and can be stepped on to a certain degree. Wouldn't take lots of foot traffic, but does some. Also has a very nice smell and cute small pink flowers. This also doesn't need much maintenance or watering. It only grows 2-4 inches in height.
There is also Creeping Jenny that, for me, grows like a weed.
You could check out some flower sites and look for "ground cover" and see what you like and get some more ideas. Maybe a mixture of a few different types of ground cover that would be nice together and not be real expensive.
Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 9:43PM
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Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis). This will take over everything. You must, must, must, must, must contain it with some sort of underground barrier. Nothing will compete with this plant. But it has nice fragrant flowers.

Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria). Same thing. No fragrant flowers.

You're just better off disregarding this post :)

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 9:17PM
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Ok so I'm taking that it's a liquid spray? yes it's about 50 wide and maybe 20 from the top of the hill down? So spray then you don't even have to dig up the grass at all? Would I have to lay down anything on top or just put in the new stuff? Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 9:12PM
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I have always dug the dirt out. Its just me and LOTS of work but I find I have very few weeds doing it that way.
I don't know what the dirt will be like afterwards and if you are going to have to add compost also.
If its a real steep slope you will have to watch for runs starting when it rains. You don't want to end up having your dirt on the top of the slope ending up on the bottom. It might be better just killing the grass and then putting plants in spaced some apart so that they will fill in, and cover it quickly.
I'm sure some of the others will be along to give you some ideas.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 10:49PM
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I vote for using Roundup also. Once the grass is dead I wouldn't bother digging it out. Leaving the dead grass there will help keep away the erosion that can happen if you have plain soil on a slope. Just leave it there, amend the soil in the spots you will be planting in. Plant your new plants and then mulch the whole area so you won't have to weed it. I planted up an area approx. 10' wide x 25' long last fall with hostas using this method. It was on a slight slope width wise. I did have to use the Roundup twice, the second time just to get the few grasses I missed the first time. This year, as the season progresses, if I see any grass coming thru in that flowerbed, I will just give the grass a shot of roundup.

As for what kind of ground cover to use....

I found that after about 12 years my lily of the valley patch isn't even 10' by 10'. Goutweed the same. Maybe I have the slow growing varieties. :)

I don't know what you think of the Prince of Wales Juniper or another kind of spreading juniper. Each plant will cover an area 8' x 8' in about 5-8 years. I have planted lilies in and around them years ago, before they spread to maturity and the lilies absolutely love it there. They come up thru the junipers. Junipers would do fine on a slope in full sun. They will need to be watered and mulched for their first few years until they get established.

As for cost, planting a juniper would be cheaper than all kinds of individual perennials.

Another idea, since you want flowers would be to plant clematis without using trellises. Just let them crawl on the ground. You may want to wait until the middle of summer to purchase them, say at Home Depot, when they come on sale for $5 each for the 1 gallon size.

As for annuals, to temporarily fill in the space until your choice perennials fill in, why not plant some wave petunias in the ground. They can really fill quite an area when planted in the ground, rather than in a pot.

Just some ideas.

Hope you can use some of our suggestions. Let us know what you decide to do. Maybe start a thread in the Gallery with pictures, before, during and after.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 9:53AM
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Would wildflowers work do you think? Does anyone know what grows well in zone 3? Thanks

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 6:31PM
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I seldom post on this forum but am not a new gardener. I'm also in zone 3 and it's only a challenge if you try to grow plants well above the zone. There are lots of plants that grow in zone 3. You can also try the zone 4 plants as lots of those are hardy enough especially with snow cover.

I think I'd plant a mix of wild flowers and perennials that grow well from seed altho would probably make my own mix. I'm not crazy about roundup but would use it in your situation. Leave the dead sod there to hold the soil and spread a thin layer of compost on top of the sod after spreading the seed. Water til plants are established.

I've added a link of plants for slopes. The following are a couple I have from that list that grow very well in my zone 3.
Achillea (yarrow) - we have the wild white stuff on our property as well as red and yellow in the garden and they are tough plants.
Ajuga - this has survived several years in my garden, don't know the variety as it was a yard sale find.

Other plants I've grown from seed (atho they are not necessarily low growing ground covers) that might work well are:
Blue perennial flax - blooms the second year.
Red annual flax easy to seed and will bloom the first year.
Shasta daisies
Jacob's Ladder
Lamb's Ears
Maltese Cross

You can seed clematis tangutica and leave it to spread on the ground.

You could seed other plants in later years. There are lots of plants that work well in zone 3. I'm a lazy gardener so often direct seed perennials in the garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: good plants for slopes

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 8:08PM
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I agree with the others .Round-up takes only 24hrs to do the job but it may actually not look like it for about a week.You can start to work in the soil after the 24 hrs but I'd wait a week. A second application may be needed as it only affects living green growth --so if it's not up when you spray it won't affect that plant. You didn't say if you were in sun or shade .There are lots of options for you. Some I would suggest are any of the creeping phlox( pink, white purple blues), thymes: (wooly ,creeping mother of,)sedums, anenome(Anenome canadensis) forget-me-nots , bluebells(Campanula rotundifolia), lamiums(varigated leaves white ,pink.reds) Rock cress(Arabis or Aubrieta)any of the dianthus family, mints (they will spread fast and may take over other plants. Hope this helps. I put down some of the latin names as I know when I was starting out they often made it easier especially if ordering from a catalogue.You may need sone rocks, wood etc. at intervals to help control any run-off. Plants that bloom at different times, various shades of foliage may also add interest----How many hours do you want to spend on it and do upkeep Lois

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 12:26AM
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This is an old pic of the front lawn that I'd like to remove. Basically from the top of the stairs down and on both sides I'd like to grow something that is easier to maintain and looks nice. It's about 50 wide I believe.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 1:37PM
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I'm with the others...

Did half of my front yard with round-up and a pump spray bottle last year, it took one application... It killed everything but it took 2 weeks to go from green to brown.

I really wish I had taken pictures as I replaced half my lawn with a wild flower mix of seeds. It would have been really nice to have before and after. I just sprinkled the seed in the dead grass. I didn't even bother to turn the soil over.

As for the slope you want to cover once you kill off the grass I'm with Sharon on this... Clover is great. Also bugleweed, sedum, mother of thyme or creeping phlox might work good for you.

I've had really good success with bugleweed and clover. I recommend white clover. Yellow wood sorrel would probably be fine too. Red clover can grow quite high so you might not want to plant it.

There are also some low growing evergreen shrubs that might work well for you too.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 1:38PM
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Looking at your picture, I'd be awfully tempted to put in one or two low junipers, just because I think it would look really nice in winter. I'm guessing for the other plants you would want to stay under 2 feet tall. I've seen a few front yards that were sloped, and beautifully landscaped. A few strategically placed rocks and driftwood stumps would really add.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 2:16PM
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Where can you get just clover do you know? I found some wildflower mixes but am not sure if they are right for this project.
What do you think?

I transplanted one juniper that was right up against the house in the back and will look into your ideas about doing more than just the ground cover. I like the idea too of transplanting some of the native trees that are around as they are plentiful and free :)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 5:30PM
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Any good garden centre that sells lawn seed should have small bags of white and red clover right beside it. It shouldn't be expensive either.

I strongly recommend the white clover it doesn't grow as high as the red and it grows slower. Unless of course you are into making tea then red clover is right on.

Buy a second bag and spread it on your lawn out back too... It is a natural fertalizer and will make your lawn look greener all summer long. Try and keep it an even spread through your lawn otherwise your lawn will start to look patchy.

The below stolen from another website

1. It stays a luscious green all summer, without being irrigated profusely (i.e., it's drought-tolerant).

2. It is free of weeds, obviating the need to apply herbicides. Your carpet competes so well for growing space that the competition is choked out.

3. It doesn't need to be fertilized.

4. It is also relatively pest-free, so that you don't have to bother spraying pesticides on it.

5. It aerates the soil on its own, so that you don't have to worry about counteracting soil compaction.

6. It is soft to walk on.

7. It attracts beneficial insects, including honeybees.

8. It rarely has to be mowed.

9. It doesn't suffer the discoloration from dog urine known as "dog spots."

  1. And if, despite all these benefits, you should ever want to replace it with a different kind of green carpet, it helps you to do so by improving the soil on its watch. Its ability to aerate the soil and pump nitrogen into it means that succeeding generations of plants using that soil will be better off.

Thats not a description of grass.... thats white clover.

We have gotten too use to the golf greens me thinks. I'm a firm supporter of alternative ground cover. Grass has its place for areas of high traffic...

I've done ground cover with clover and bugleweed mix and it looks really neat together... Just a thought. Diversity is common place in this world. And if they do get tall over a long period of time both can be mowed no problem. But they are both way slower growers then grass.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 8:18PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

That's quite the useful list lilmonicker, I have tons of white clover in my so call lawn and I love it. Some gardeners may say itÂs a weed, not in my eyes ;)

If you can't find it at your local garden centre, I believe William Dam Seeds in Ontario sells it in bulk.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 3:06AM
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Below is the link you can find the whole article at.

Couple years ago there was a fellow in the Lawn forum who if I remember things right managed the lawn for a golf course. He had several good comments in support of clover and some really good pictures. I tried to find that old forum thread to but I just can't seem to dig it up.

- Andrew

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 4:09PM
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Definitely going to look into getting some clover. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 3:59PM
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