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Thyme, brass buttons, or other? Ground cover for hard clay

Posted by thane z8 Bellevue, WA (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 11, 06 at 10:25

I've got a stretch of very hard clay soil at the foot of a retaining wall. It gets full sun. It's about 60-80' long, and 1-2' wide. It's always filling up with weeds, so I'd like to put an attractive ground cover that will choke out most of the weeds. For this situation, I'd prefer something that will form a nice mat, like thyme does.

It's an isolated strip of dirt, so I'm not worried about invasive plants, unless they can send out roots 3-4' under a rock wall and spread that way. (I understand bamboo does this.)

I've planted thyme and brass buttons, and they both seem to be happy there. I prefer the thyme for appearance.

Will the thyme be able to spread in hard clay soil? (I've already noticed the brass buttons spreading) Is any one type of thyme better suited to this purpose? I'm using Woolly Thyme (Thymus lanuginosus) right now. The slugs ate the Elfin Thyme (Thymus serpyllum 'Elfin') I planted there.

Can anyone suggest other ground covers that might do well? I'd use sedums, some of my all-time favorite plants, but since it's right by a sidewalk I just know they'd get trampled. Ideal plants would be drought-resistant too. (I was surprised that the thyme is doing so well. I haven't watered in for 2 months, in one of the driest summers ever.)

Thank you!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Thyme, brass buttons, or other? Ground cover for hard clay

I lost Wooly Thyme in a dry area, and Brass Buttons is struggling there too. Blue Star Creeper, Isotoma, does very well, though, and spreads rapidly. My New Zealand Burr, Acaena, also spreads well but makes burrs so you might not like that aspect of them. Actually the blue-green form makes burrs but I haven't seen any on the purple forum, inermis purpurea. I tried to search for them on the Stepables site and they didn't come up, perhaps Stepables doesn't sell them anymore.

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