Groundcover along fenceline....need suggestions!

lauraeyes2March 7, 2008

Hi all, I'm new to the forums.

My husband and I recently purchased a home in Southeastern PA. With the weather beginning to show signs of Spring, we have been thinking more and more about future outdoor projects we're planning.

Our backyard is surrounded by a wooden fence. On the outer side of fence, we have the neighborhood sidewalk bordering on one side. There is a 3-4' slightly sloping strip of grass between the sidewalk and fenceline. I wanted to fill in some or all of this grassy area with some kind of low-maintenance, yet attractive ground cover. As a corner property, This area of the fenceline lines the entrance into the neighborhood, so I thought it would be nice to dress it up and give more curb appeal to our home.

I'd like some suggestions for what I can use to fill in this area, since as a first-time homeowner, i'm new to picking plants for landscaping. Here are some criteria for what I'd want to fill the area:

-Area gets full/partial sunlight

-Area has good drainage, but has moist soil

-Prefer something that has flowers or some bright colors, but nice full ground cover

-Perennial (I don't want to have to keep re-planting the area every year)

-Something that would look attractive in the months when flowers aren't in bloom (some groundcover looks like ugly weeds or dead plants in the "off months")

-12" high or less

Looking forward to hearing from you!


Any suggestions?

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Congrats on your new home!
My first suggestion for you would be Dianthus.
I planted a small clump 2 years ago that I bought cheap from Home Depo. It had gorgeous pretty pink flowers and silver blue foliage, different looking.
Much to my suprise, it was evergreen and looked great all winter long.
It doesn't spread real fast though, so if you go to Home Depot or Lowes buy many of them, they aren't expensive at all.
They look great all year long.
Great ground cover!
I think I am going to look for more of them this spring. They come in a variety of colors, mabey I will get the red one too.
Oh, and the best part, they are almost maintainous free!
I water them once a week when it is really hot out.
That's it.
GOod Luck with your home.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 12:45AM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

That's a tough order. Year-round attractiveness plus flowers. I can't think of anything. Periwinkle (vinca) maybe? How set are you on the height?

There are many perennials that would work - but that don't look like much in the winter months. There are dozens of small shrubs too - but likely will grow over 12 inches tall.

I would put in a nice border of low maintenance perennials with a few small evergreens for winter interest. A thick layer of shredded bark mulch should keep down the weeds. A taller planting might even look better than a short groundcover - and the fence will likely provide a nice backdrop.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 7:26PM
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It sounds like we have the same issue.

I am in year 3 of the quandry. My slope is more steeper than yours, but I think we can learn from one another, as the zones are the same.

The first year at the house, I mowed the slope and weed wacked along the fenceline. I couldn't stand it. It would take me more time to do the slope than it would for the rest of the lawn.

Last year, I fought back. I went to Walmart and bought two dozen low growing junipers. They do not get very tall and they spread nicely. Stagger planted them on the hill. Now, I only have half the grass and I weed wack what I cannot mow.

This year, I am wintersowing lavender and other hardy perrenials for the rest of the hill, not to mention I have a meadow mixture I will plant throughout.

My goal: A no mow hill!

Time and patience is all I can say on this one. Think it through, even though it can be changed, why do it twice?

Try daylillies, hosta and thyme. I also agree with dianthus. Stays green pretty much all year and when it does seem to be gone, it just appears!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 1:34PM
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Lamium will be pretty 3 months of the year and look pretty sparse in the winter. There are several that have very attractive foliage as well as pretty blooms and they will tolerate all sorts of conditions. The link os for White Nancy, but it comes in red, pink and purple too. Very pretty with the silver and green foliage IMHO.

Though I love both hostas and daylilys (I have more of them than I probably should LOL) they are not going to do anything for you in the winter.


Here is a link that might be useful: White Nancy

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 10:00AM
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westhighlandblue(z6 PA)

I have a pretty substantial hill in my front yard. I put in a sort of cottage garden, and I've had good luck with dianthus, iris, wild roses, dwarf crepe myrtle, a really soft low growing juniper called "Shore Juniper," lantana (its a hot spot), deutzia, and blanket flower. Only the dianthus and the shore juniper are evergreen. But I have to say, the other plants have an attractive winter look.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 7:58AM
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pat4750(Zone 6 Cen PA)

Have you considered liriope? It tolerates sun or shade, dry or moist soils, produces spikes of lavender or white flowers in August followed by black berries and comes in cultivars with green or green and white or green and cream 1/4 inch wide leaves; it grows to about 1 foot. It is often sold in gallon-size containers at the "big box" stores. If you are patient, you can divide these large plants into 4 or 5 pieces and within 2 seasons, they are nearly as big as the original plant. It is mostly evergreen; by about late February or Early March it starts to look a little "war-torn". Then you just mow it down to about 2 inches before any new growth starts.
There are 2 types - Liriope muscari and Liriope spicata. Muscari is a clump former; spicate spreads rapidly by runners and can eventually be hard to control. Liriope mucari 'Big Blue' gets 10inches tall and has violet-blue flowers; 'Monroe White' has white flowers; the variegated types 'John Burch' and 'Silvery Sunproof' spread more slowly. There is also an all gold leaved cultivar called 'Pee Dee Ingot'.
You could plant spring bulbs among the liriope to make the area look less "crew-cut" in spring and then the new foliage will hide the dying bulb foliage.
The muscari types can be mixed with other grouncovers as they are less likely to overrun their bed mates.
Whatever you decide to plant, I think it's a good idea to put down a soaker hose under the mulch to keep your new planting well watered during it's first season or 2. It's usually rainy here in the spring but come July and August we get little rain most years.
Good luck with your new home.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 12:30PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Liriope.... I didn't think of that. That's a good suggestion especially with the bulbs in for spring color! I would avoid the l. spicata.... had it not been for the voles eatting the roots I think it would have taken over my parent's whole front yard.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 8:02PM
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