What's you take on English Ivy?

pamcrews(6 SW Missouri)October 9, 2008

I have a large steep hill area which wraps around the back of the yard. Because it's so hard to get to I was very successful in growing massive amounts of weeds this summer. My objectivities is to plant a strong dense ground cover such as english ivy that will hopefully choke out weeds, keep the hill from eroding and stay green most of the year. This area stays hot and dry in the summer and has lots and lots of rock. The darker brown you see in the picture IS NOT good soil, but dark mulch. If I plant the ivy I'll keep it contained in that area not to endanger the trees however I am concerned about the berries it can produce once mature. I've read so many negative posts but there has been some positive posts regarding landscaping with ivy too. Any recommendations or suggestions? Do you think ivy would be a good choice? DonÂt' want to start something I may seriously regret. Thanks for your input. Pam

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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I would look at slopes on the highway to see what they plant. I think I have seen spreading junipers used on slopes. I have crown vetch and I wouldn't recommend that because I think it might spread by seeds. However I don't think crown vetch would like growing in your woods and ivy might escape and do well there. You are going to need something tough to grow there, so anything that would grow might be invasive in more favorable conditions.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 12:06AM
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If you decide to use Ivy, I would recommend using one of the colorful, hardy cultivars, such as 'Gold Heart' (link below), which is much less invasive than the green forms and tends to spread on the ground. I have seen it growing in Zone 6 (Central PA) during the winter and with it's winter colors, it was very attractive with the reddish hues in the leaves, as well as the stems.
DO NOT plant the species Hedera hibernica, often sold as Engligh Ivy cultivar 'Hibernica' or just as English Ivy. It is the very invasive species that has given Ivy a bad name!
Go to ivy.org to view photos of a number of Ivy species & cultivars, but be aware that many are not hardy outdoors in Zone 6 (or even here in Zone 7). There is also a list of growers that ship Ivies, if you can't find a suitable cultivar locally.

Here is a link that might be useful: English Ivy - Gold Heart

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 1:50AM
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Pam, I am planting vinca on my front ditch and I like it very much. You also get the bonus of little blue flowers in the spring. I have both vinca minor and major. I believe the minor is less spreading. You could keep it under control by just mowing at the top of the bank.

Another good thing is you can just start with a few plants and then dig up sprigs and move it. I just dropped a handful of trimmings of it on the ground by the smokehouse and it has now covered an extensive area.

I wouldn't plant it near flower beds......

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 7:35AM
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Ditto razorback33 thoughts.
I have had gold heart growing in a ditch area for 2 years now.
It is starting to fill in quite nice and love the colors.
I also have english, how ever is is contained to hanging baskets.
Started out w/1, now have 4. I would never put this into the soil.
My daughter has a neighbor who has this in an area that looks like she started to try and keep it form spreading. Wrong it is all over her trees and most of her lawn.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 8:20AM
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pamcrews(6 SW Missouri)

You all you have given some very good advice. Thank you. I did try the vinia minor, and after seeing it in other places I didn't like it and pulled up my starts. I have the vinica major (variegated) on a smaller hill and has taken off. I love that stuff but not so sure it would do well on my big hill that I want to get covered....fast. I have also planted strawberries on my problem hill and while they have been growing all season it hasn't provide a dense cover to keep those weeds down. Thanks again and more suggestions are very much welcomed.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 9:42AM
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Oh but Pam - It would be so pretty to have flowers cascading over your rock wall. Are you sure it wouldn't work to put a garden there?
"I was very successful in growing massive amounts of weeds this summer" That's good! If nothing grew there at all, that would be a bad sign.

Sorry - I'm being a bad influence. I love hillside gardens but I don't have ANY experience with that so don't listen to me ok.

I would put a few verbena 'Homestead Purple' along the bottom of the hill to hang down over the wall with some tufts of blue fescue in between. Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' is drought tolerant, makes a wide mound and would cover a big area pretty fast. Iberis (candytuft) would be pretty. It has white flowers and is evergreen but I'm not sure about drought tolerance on that one. It seems pretty tough in my yard. If you like silver foliage, artemisa 'Powis Castle' would make a wide mound too. Then you could add some sedum, salvias, a couple other favorites and poof you'd be done. : )

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 10:18AM
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bunny6(7 AR)

I don't know about English Ivy, because I put some in my flower bed and it took years to get rid of it. It spreads quickly and is tough as nails. Then I planted vinca major in a garden that I am now pulling up. It also spread throughout the garden. But, you do need a strong ground cover for your hill, because it is so steep. Hope you find something that works:)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 10:45AM
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My experience with vinca major is it will spread extremely rapidly. I just have the plain green; it would look good with variegated among it.

I love the vinca and have other taller plants growing out of it.

You could make about three tiers using the same stone for retaining the beds......lots of work, but sure would look pretty. I have seen that done and once the plants were up and going you could barely see the walls.

Here's a good spreading retaining plant to plant where it will cascade and it likes hot and dry: Russian Sage, perovskia atriplicfolia.

Most herbs like sage and oregano should do well there.
They both come in different varieties. I guarantee you some oregano will spread like crazy.

Just some more ideas....

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 1:08PM
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pamcrews(6 SW Missouri)

Great Great Ideas! Thanks all. Getting to that hill is very difficult. I did plant some variegated privets there this year (that are not in the pic) and I practically had to lay down on the hill not to slide off while I dug the holes. The other down side of that hill is the base of the hill is filled with LOTS of rocks of all sizes...having said that there are LOTS of holes of all sizes.....and being PARINOID about snakes you know what is CONSTANTLY on my mind when I'm trying to tackle that hill. Scary hun? So the shortest about of time I have to spend on that hill the happier I'll be ELSEWHERE!


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 1:38PM
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I like the thought of evening primrose that spreads and blooms, lirope is clumping and blooms, trumpet vine will spread and bloom. I'm for blooming plants to give birds and bees food.
I would put a variety of flowers including throwing zinna and marigold seed with what ever you choose. I did that on a hill even added a few sunflowers. was a joy to look at.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 2:03PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Have you seen this plant. It is expensive and I'm not sure how tough, but should be adapted to a slope. I would put a soaker hose around it until it was established. You'll have to google for an image. I have not seen any pictures of established plants. It is beautiful in the nurseries.

Here is a link that might be useful: tiger eyes sumac

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 7:32PM
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