What ground cover thwarts grass best?
May 28, 2011 11:47 AM   Subscribe

What ground cover will best defy the incursion of my nemesis, grass? Shady (under tree) area in Quebec, Canada.

I hate mowing my lawn, and hence have dug up my front yard and tried a few different things -- clover, flowering ground cover, a veggie garden, etc. In my perfect world, I'll be able to plant some ground cover, aggressively "weed" grass for the first season it's in, and then have it spread enough to be more or less problem-free. The problem I've always had is grass insinuating itself into the ground cover, springing up in the middle where I can't really weed it out without the ground cover getting pulled up as well, and then gradually taking over again. I'll be planting under an oak tree, so a fairly shaded area, and there's other lawn on the property -- a huge yard around the back, and grass around the driveway -- that will border the dug-up area. If I can find the right cover, I'll probably institute a gradual program of anti-grass, pro-ground cover, on an annual basis up to the driveway. Suggestions, GardenFilter?
posted by Shepherd to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Vinca? Pachysandra?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:54 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you take the long view, you could plant a "green manure" ground cover like alfalfa, clover, or barley, which is supposed to smother weeds, then turn it under and plant your decorative ground cover the next season.
posted by yarly at 12:08 PM on May 28, 2011

Seconding the pachysandra. Mix it with some ivy or some myrtle if you want a bit of variety.

The one warning about pachysandra is that every few years it should be thinned out a bit, which means a bit of manual labour.
posted by sardonyx at 12:52 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Assuming you're zone 4 stretching to 5 like Ottawa, here are some options for our climate.

Some of these can be very invasive. Vinca is tough as nails but spreads everywhere. Similarly, don't plant Goutweed (Ægopodium podagraria) unless you are certain that you really really like it. It's worse than mint.
posted by bonehead at 1:52 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ajuga (bugleweed) is another possibility. I'm watching with glee as it takes over more and more of my lawn.
posted by Corvid at 2:21 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ajuga, lamium, sweet woodruff, and vinca minor all blossom and spread very well in shade. European Wild Ginger is beautiful.
posted by missmary6 at 2:51 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a massive patch of wild strawberry in my back yard and it's pretty good about keeping out competing grass (photo). And every June I get a delicious harvest of wild strawberries, more than two people can eat every day. Apparently you can use the leaves for tea as well, but I haven't tried that.

There's another lawn down the street with a patch that they mow regularly; it breaks my heart every time I walk by, even though I know they're technically considered 'weeds'.
posted by Gortuk at 5:46 AM on May 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love sweet woodruff. I'm in zone 6 and have that stuff growing uphill, in the shade of a row of cedar trees in heavy clay-like soil.
posted by emeiji at 11:51 PM on May 29, 2011

Response by poster: I'm giving some Vinca a shot, and have wild strawberries in a must-be-mown part of my lawn that I'm now thinking I might take the effort of trying to separate and transplant: I've tried a few garden centres around town and none sell wild strawberry plantings or seeds.

Ajuga is -- well, kinda not great-looking, at least the varieties they have around here.

Thanks for the help so far!
posted by Shepherd at 9:27 AM on May 30, 2011

I'm having some great luck with creeping thyme this year--by which I mean I am doing absolutely nothing, and large patches of it are taking over what used to be Evil Grass. It stays short, gets some pretty little lavender flowers, and smells ummmmm when you walk on it. A few years ago, I planted part of my lawn with this Herbal Lawn Mix; I guess the thyme was the sturdiest plant in the mix.

Select Seeds is a good website to check--they have this version of "wild-ish?" strawberry seeds that I'm going to try. They also have creeping thyme and many other lovelies.
posted by Corvid at 1:23 PM on July 15, 2011

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