Low growing, non invasive, non vining ground cover

merryheart(z7OK)March 24, 2008

Hi everyone!

Well it is almost time to think of gardening again. Of course I know that some of you think of it all the time....lol.

I need a good low growing, low maintainance, non vining ground cover to plant under a circle of red tipped photinias in my back yard. The spot is mostly shady but in summer can get late afternoon to evening sun in spots.

I know I do not want vinca, English Ivy, or other hard to maintain types.

I do love Pachysandra but is a bit slow and I need something a little faster to fill in the area.

No monkey grass please.

It would be great if it were evergreen but not a must.

I have tried hostas in the spot and they got a little too much sun and didn't do well because I had them on the outer edges of the circle.

I am at a loss as to what to try next. But my bare spot gets a little larger each year it seems so would be nice to find something.

If I can't find the right plants I may just have to resort to putting in landscape rock or something.

I need to mention that I need something with smallish roots....this space is around my electric posts due to us having a double lot the utility posts are in my backyard. So will have to be very careful digging and can't dig more than a couple of inches.

A Challenge huh?

Any ideas anyone?

BTW Hello Dawn! How are you and the tomatoes doing?


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Try Ajuga?

I like it as a ground cover. Also, some lambs ear?


Here is a link that might be useful: ajuga

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 2:21PM
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I have some sedum in a shady spot. Don't know the name--one of the old passalong types. Did better than I thought it would, although last year's heavy rains caused some of it to rot out. Dorothy

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 2:33PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi G.M.,

It's great to see you here again. Have y'all been traveling lately?

Well, what a challenge! I had asian jasmine in a similar situation in Fort Worth. I planted it in hard-as-a-rock unimproved black clay soil where it got about 3 hours of morning sun and not much else. I never fertilized it. I mowed it down once or twice a year when it got too tall. That was it. It grew and spread and the thick, glossy leaves were SO gorgeous. Once it is established, it is very low maintenance.

I've had ajuga as well, but only in morning sun and am not sure how well it would hold up to late afternoon sun. If it is only patchy sun, and not full unrelenting hot late afternoon sun, though, I think it could work. I love the way ajuga looks.

Sedum sounds ideal. It is tough. I've seen both the red-flowered ones and the yellow-flowered ones that are creeping ground covers and they are lovely. It does need moderately good drainage as Dorothy mentioned. Thrift could work there as well, and you'd have the blossoms in spring. You could use the creeping sedums as your ground cover and interplant some of the taller sedums like Autumn Joy too.

Another delightful ground cover that is very tough and resilient is Purple Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus'). It will spread out 5' to 6' wide and can be kept at a height of about 1 foot, although you would have to prune once or twice a year to encourage it to grow outward instead of upward. Its' tiny flowers attract pollinators in spring, the berries that follow are gorgeous, and it is lovely in winter when the foliage turns a purplish green. It is one very tough plant, being more resistant to scale and powdery mildew than most other euonymus varieties.

Setcreasea pallida 'Purple Heart' would give a different look. It has thick, succulent stems with very showy purple foliage and tiny pink flowers. Once established, it hardly every needs irrigation. It is sometimes sold as purple 'Wandering Jew'. I've linked a photo below. Some people, though, prefer a more subdued color palette and won't plant a purple-foliaged plant under red-tipped photinias, so consider the way it would look. It might look a little flamboyant.

Let us know what you end up planting!


Here is a link that might be useful: photo/info on setcreasea

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 5:43PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

G.M., I forgot to respond to your last statement. The tomatoes and I are fine. I am ready to plant but was waiting for Easter's cold spell to pass.

I think tomorrow or the next day I may start planting them.
After last year's late cold weather, I am really, really, really trying not to plant too early, and it is so hard!


    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 5:54PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions. I really appreciate getting some good ideas. This spot has been a problem for a few years and as I mentioned is getting worse. I have to be very careful what I plant however. DH just last year pulled out all of the vinca ground cover I had around part of the back and the north side of our house due it being too hardy and covering over the bushes and sidewalk. lol
He has spotted a few trying to come back and he has already said he is going after them so I know whatever I plant must not vine.

I like the Asian Jasmine very much and I believe the right color variety would look good with the photinias. If we could do as Dawn mentioned and just mow them to keep them off the bushes it might work and they might be able to withstand the late sun they will get.

I also love thrift. I have had it as mixed ground cover in front of my house for years and it was just breath taking many springs and falls as well. But something happened to it in the last year or so...either the floods or the ice storms. It is trying to make a come back but is pretty sparse as of now. I know it can take sun since my house faces west and gets intense heat.

It has been a challenge to find one which meets all my needs in this spot and is something DH will tolerate as well.....lol.
Oh and BTW I forgot to mention it will have to be able to endure being trampled when DH prunes the photinias...lol.

I think Ajuga is very nice ground cover but I really don't think it would survive the conditions I have.

The purple heart I know to be a very hardy and pretty plant and low maintance but I agree Dawn it might look a little like overkill with the photinias. I find a twig of it in some of my beds around here occasionally so I am sure some of my neighbors must have it.
Speaking of plants coming from neighbors...I had a battle last summer with the green variety of "jew" coming up EVERYWHERE around here. I didn't think I would ever get rid of it. Apparently seed must have washed through the yard during all the flooding rains.

From the plants you all have mentioned I think the only two which might work are the Asian Jasmine or the thrift.
I wonder if the thrift will have too much roots for me with all those power lines? I know the ones I planted in front came in half gallon pots. Yikes! But perhaps we could have the electric company come out and mark the lines so we can avoid them....it is pretty scary.

Since this spot of my yard is in perfect view from my patio I need to do something with it. It looks pretty ugly right now with so much bare soil showing. Even thought DH gives the photinias a severe pruning pretty often and tries to keep them from being too tall still the bare spot is growing larger each year.

Thank you all for your helpful suggestions and I will let you know what I end up doing.

I have had so much else going on lately I have given little thought to any kind of gardening. After last year I am pretty disgusted with it to tell you the truth. It was THE WORST season for me EVER.

And Dawn...no we have not been traveling. We have kept busy with going through our entire property and doing a massive clean out. I hope to have a huge garage sale and cut way down on things around here. I just want to SIMPLIFY. We finally redecorated our master bedroom and bathroom too....so we have kept very busy all winter.

Now I am just ready for WARMTH. Lots of sunshine and WARMTH!

Thank ya'll!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 10:36AM
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For ringing the very edge around the photinias, why not try planting Stella De Ore day lily? They stay short enough and will repeat bloom all late spring through the following Fall. Just make certain to plant then around the outer area of the bed where they can receive plenty of sun.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 1:09PM
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Thank you Katrina, that is a good suggestion since I have the same day lilies in an adjacent bed already. It will tie them together nicely. And I love them!

The warm weather got to me yesterday and I went shopping...lol. Got a fountain for the area at the end of my patio, the kind which looks like a waterfall over rocks from Lowes, also TONS of rock and edging for the area we need to fill in with something more attractive than bare dirt. Also got a few phlox to space around in there.
We are awaiting visits from the utility companies now to mark all the lines before we can start.

I guess the spring gardening bug is starting to get me now. So you all will probably see more of me now that it is warm enough for me to think planting.

Thank you all for your suggestions and I will let you know how this goes as we make progress on this project.

I need to go post for some ideas in another thread. I am always needing so much help.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 10:22AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

G.M., I just KNEW you would be at Lowe's this week. (grinning) I was there on Tuesday, but just got some basic tomato-planting supplies and no plants.

It's going to be hot, hot, hot here today, so have fun. I'm on my way outside to plant tomatoes.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 11:41AM
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Dawn you guessed correctly....lol. I just couldn't resist this wonderful HEAT. My only wish is that it would LAST. I am just so ready for warm weather to stay.
I was back at Pick of the Day and Lowes again today...but only bought 2 packs of seed at Lowes so I have done good so far. We will see if I can hold out or not...haha.
I cleaned my garden shed out good today. Oh my that was a job.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 6:22PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I couldn't resist it either, and stayed out far too long. I am a lovely shade of light pink....but not sunburnt enough that I will peel or be in great pain or anything. It was 88 degrees here in Marietta, and got warm very early in the day...was 80 at our house by 10 a.m.

The cold front is coming, though, and I guess we won't see 88 again for a while.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 10:36PM
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I had done some reading and had decided to grow Asian jasmine. Thank you for the information as now I know that it will do great in my drive garden.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 1:04PM
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