How to cover a large area temporarily

deltaskye(7a)August 18, 2012

Thanks to the destructive derecho (wind storm), felled trees, and heavy equipment used to make repairs and clean up my property, large areas of my landscaping are destroyed and I'm looking at lots of dirt. Now I've decided to do some renovations, which means more crews and equipment coming in.

Is there something I can plant that will cover the ground until I'm ready to landscape and garden again? Given the size of the area, I'd love to find something to grow from seed. The area receives substantial sun. I was actually thinking of borrowing an idea from farmers and planting rye as a winter ground cover. That's only good for one year, but it might save time.

Also, are there some perennials or annuals that would grow easily from seed? Perhaps some I could sow this fall (coming soon)? I know one can buy large lots of wildflower seeds; are those successful?

When one broadcasts seed over a large area, does one have to till and prep the soil first? I removed all my grass years ago, and I've only used seed for annuals in small areas that were easy to prep. I've never faced a large area.

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mistascott(7A VA)

Annual ryegrass is probably what I would do. It is quick and easy. I am sure there are others with differing opinions though.

You don't need to do much to prep the area as ryegrass is pretty good about germinating in rough conditions, but if possible adding some top dressing (compost or just top soil) spread thinly would be nice to give it a seed bed. It sounds like the area has been "tilled" so to speak by all the equipment.

How long do you want to cover the area? Wildflower seeds do work though I don't think there are many that germinate at this time of year. Also, when it finally comes time to landscape, you will have a lot to clean up.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 6:18PM
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deltaskye(7a)

I have thought about eventually having to remove the groundcover. I think it will be a couple years until I'm ready to landscape again. I think I may sow perennial wildflowers next spring where the space is visible to the street -- and deal with mud over this winter until it's time to sow next spring. Then sow annual ryegrass in the real large back space for this winter, leaving some room for some annuals and vegetables next spring in the areas that won't get run over by contractors.

Thanks for the suggestions. I didn't answer sooner because I thought I'd get a notice when someone had responded, which I didn't. Do you have recommendations for places to purchase large quantities of ryegrass and wildflower seed, either in the DC area or online?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 4:43PM
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mistascott(7A VA)

You can get Pennington's wildflower mixes intended to cover large areas (~5,000 sq. ft.) at Home Depot in Spring. I have also seen them at the larger garden centers. Most of these plants tend to be annuals though -- but they often reseed themselves very well. Also, the link below shows another type of mixture. Rudbeckia hirta, echinacea, blanket flower (gaillardia) and many others grow well from seed sown after threat of frost in Spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seeds

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 10:48AM
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mistascott(7A VA)

I know you can get bags of annual ryegrass at Home Depot/Lowe's -- usually sold as "temporary lawn seed."

Also, the Pennington seeds cover 1,000 or so sq. ft. per bag, not 5,000. My mistake.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pennington Wildflower Seed

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 10:52AM
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