Can you control a groundcover? Maybe. I can tell you from experience that you cannot control many grouncovers once they take off (unless you want to spend countless hours pulling and chopping to keep them in their designated area). Seriously, a groundcovers is just that- they cover the ground and choke out anything in its path.
I see many garden centers stocked with 2″ or larger pots of groundcovers every spring and I want to cringe. Why? Because many unsuspecting homeowners do not realize that groundcovers have to maintained and controlled once they are established. There are some grouncovers that cannot be stopped even in a pot because they will climb up, over, and and even out the drain holes in a pot. Groundcovers such as ivy and WinterCreeper Euonymous will go over, through and around any obstacle, pot, or tree and choke out any plant that is in its path.
The 7 worst offenders (in my area) are:
- Ivy, Hedera helix (zone 4-9 and worst offender in my experience)
- Vinca major green (zone 7-9)
- Vinca major variegated (7-9)
- Vinca minor Periwinkle (zone 4-9)
- Pachysandria, Japanese Spurge (xone 5-9)
- Wintercreeper Euonymus, Eyonymus fortunei (zone 4-9)
- Lamium archangel, yellow archangel, Lamium galeobdolon (zone 4-9)
These are not the only groundcovers that can take over but these are the hardest I have found to eradicate. Most of these are sold every year at Lowe’s, Home Depot, and other home stores with garden centers. Why are they sold? Because they are easy to propagate and can be sold for profit. A groundcovers does have a purpose and any gardener – seasoned or beginner- must know what they are planting. I cannot express enough how invasive these groundcovers can be!
I have literally pulled out tons of ivy. Yes tons. When I bought my current home there was a 20′ x 40′ area filled with ivy going up the Oaks about 30′ and I pulled it all out and filled my truck twice to the top of the cab (which squatted my tires and in my truck had to have been at least a ton and a half!) I have pulled out ivy for others too. Do not be fooled ivy is a monster and it will choke out any plant in its way.
Then there is yellow archangel which spreads like wild fire in the shade of a wooded area. I know because I have it in my wooded area and it is evergreen amongst the leaves on the woodland floor. I am always pulling it up and sometimes I put it in pots because the variegated leaves and its fast growth make it a great filler for pots and hanging baskets (for the shade). It took 1 summer for yellow archangel to take over a 20’x 20′ area when I left it alone!
Vinca major (variegated) is another one that can quickly fill a spot and here in zone 7 is more invasive than the green. I cannot forget Pachysandria which may take 3 or more years to establish but when it does it stands it ground. I might as well tell you that I have spent years in my zone 7 garden waging war against these pretty but invasive plants.
A groundcover do have a purpose and they can be pretty. However, I cannot say it enough, that they are not to be planted if you are not willing to keep them controlled. It took me 3 seasons to eradicate ivy; and 8 years later I still have some periwinkle that pops up under my compact hollies on the side of my house. I even have Wintercreeper in areas and I have found the deer will eat it when they are hungry which helps keep it in check in my wooded area.
Gardening can be low maintenance but there is no such thing as no maintenance. Just as children grow out of their clothes, a groundcover will grow out of the spot in your garden. In my zone 7 these groundcovers are evergreen and will take over an area in less than 3 seasons. I have neighbors who grow invasive plants and love them and they let them creep into the native common areas. It is beautiful to see a sea of variegated green and white but the consquences far outweigh the beauty of this roaming invader.
Can you control a groundcover? Maybe if you spend the time to prune and pull to keep it in place several times through the growing season. There are more than the 7 worst invaders I have named here. I will write about more groundcovers, invasive species, and native plants in the months to come.
I am glad you stopped by and hope that if you consider planting a groundcover you will consider a native alternative such as a woodland Christmas fern, Solomon Seal, several varieties of Heuchera, ferns, or other plants. You can check out a couple links below for some resources.
Thank you for stopping by and let me know if you have had to tackle any of these invasive monsters.
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2016 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller @The Garden Frog Boutique
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