ajuga, oenothera, wintercreeper, yucca, thyme

rocky110501(z5 WI)June 1, 2005

I have a a 25 foot wide by probably 300 ft long ditch in full sun and i'm in zone 5. We want to naturalize the ditch and let some groundcovers take over instead of mowing the grass in this ditch. So, I rounded up part of this area and then planted bunch of ajuga (choc chip), oenothera, wintercreeper (dwarf), mother of thyme, couple yuccas, and some calgary carpet junipers on the upslopes of ditch. I was over on the perennial forum and after i read a few threads, I think they don't like a majority of the groundcovers i picked...ajuga, yucca and oenothera being some of them...they said they're invasive and wouldn't even buy a house that had goutweed planted anywhere on the lot. I just want a good groundcover, and i didn't want to plant the usual crownvetch. What do you all think? Did i make poor choices? One side of the ditch is the road, the other side, being my "far from perfect" lawn and then the driveway on the other side. The rest of the ditch is really long and doesn't hit neighbors lot until about 300 more feet down the road. Did i make a mistake by planting ajuga?

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rivers1202(Z8a South Carolina)

[ Did i make a mistake by planting ajuga? ]

No. You didn't. It doesn't sound like you have perennial beds nearby that you wouldn't want invaded by the ajuga, and you've said your lawn isn't the greatest. So, seems to me that you'll be fine with ajuga. I don't understand why so many people complain that ajuga is invasive. It hasn't been, in my experience. I haven't had any problems at all, and the stuff is planted in with my hostas, liriope, lamium, geraniums, among others. It spreads, as you'd expect a groundcover to do...but invasive? Nope. Especially if you have it in full sun, which it will do 'ok' in, but it prefers shade. The full sun conditions should keep it in check. The only plant you listed which I've had problems with, is wintercreeper. I have found it to be a difficult plant to get rid of. The rest sound fine for the area you're planning to use them in.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 12:39AM
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I planted a few 'Fairy' groundcover rose on the steep banks of an overflow drainage ditch that runs half way across the front of a half acre residential lot I own. That ditch has a west facing bank against my lot and an east facing bank against a neighborhood street.

The supplier who suggested using the 'Fairy' groundcover rose said that it roots as it goes and would fill the banks after spreading for three growing seasons and the root as it goes benefit would eliminate errosion problems on both sides of the bank. At the same time, the rose blooms all growing season until hard freezes occur later in the year. The rose only spreads by above ground runners and is easy to contain by just pruning off any runners that overextend the slopes.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 6:18PM
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yeah, yeah, heard it before, can't tell you what I think without upsetting poor Spike, the admin...

let's just say that it's a sunny ditch, the wrong plants for that would be things that need boggy shade.

Now, if Aguja (and sorrel, violets, clover, and half a dozen other low-growing species) are good enough for the lawn of Longwood Gardens (who gave up their snooty french-style monoculture lawn in favor of organic methods and a healthier biosphere a decade ago) then who are we to argue? I have clover, mint, and violets in mine, and just patched the bare spots with aguja...and my lawn smells nice when I mow it, and turns purple in the spring, and my 80 year old neighbors are conflicted- the men all seem afraid that my dandelions will infest their Scott-turf lawns, and the wives all say 'I think it's pretty' behind their backs ;)

Personally, I think the carpet junipers are horrid things, but for the application, they will make a nice change of texture, as will the Yucca.

the mother of thyme will either love it, or it won't. in many ways, it's the crankiest of the plants you selected- but it likes rocky soil and 'mediterranian' conditions- and drainage on a slope is rarely a problem, so you don't have to worry about the cold you're prone to.

there are native daylilies around my neck of the woods that are so common for this purpose, we call them 'ditch lilies' and I'm sure the perennial experts will call them invasive, and common, and dull...but it's their purpose in life, they do it well, and they can be wonderful looking.

so, since you chose plants SUITED FOR THE JOB...the only other question would be 'do you LIKE them?'

adding a carpet rose, creeping phlox, a stand of daylillies, clumps of standing sedum- or patches of creeping sedums (gold acres makes yellow star-shaped flowers, Dragon's Blood's leaves are trimmed with red) or a stand of spiderworts (another 'bratty' plant everyone else sneers at) will certainly break up the planting- monocultures are bad things, doesn't matter if it's a school population, or a perennial bed.

now... lawn grass. THERE is an invasive weed that does nothing at all to benefit the soil- I can't seem to get rid of it faster than it throws runners out ;)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 12:44PM
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dirty_knees_il(ZONE 5)

boy, China cat said it all. I agree. As for the ajuga and winter creeper, I love mine in the ditch along my road side. As for it getting into the lawn, I havn't had a problem, I can usually pull up the loose ends and replant them in a bare spot,and if worse comes to worse... a shot of broadleaf herbaside usually does the trick.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 11:38PM
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Could some of you post pics of your ground cover used in ditches? It would be very helpful to get a big picture of what the end product will look like. Thanks,MM.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 4:06PM
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