Ground cover refers to low-lying plants and grasses that grow over a wide area. These shorter plants are found underneath shrubs and trees. Landscapers and farmers cultivate ground flora to:
- prevent erosion, especially on slopes
- protect the topsoil from drying out
- attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators
- add nutrients to the topsoil during crop rotation
- reduce the need for mulching
- disguise bare soil in gardens
- hinder the growth of weeds
However, weeds in ground cover can make a garden look untidy and unappealing. They also compete with ornamental plants for nutrients and sunlight.
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How can you remove weeds from ground cover?
Choose Weed-Busting Plants
If you are starting a new garden, why not choose plants that will prevent weeds in ground cover from getting established in the first place? This method will not permanently eliminate weeds, but it will prevent them from getting a foothold in your garden.
Certain perennials, annuals, and evergreens have thick root systems that choke out weeds:
- creeping phlox
- creeping juniper
- Irish moss
- lily of the valley
- dead nettle
- phlox stolonifera
- lamb’s ears
- golden creeping jenny
- red creeping thyme
- sweet alyssum
- Siberian cypress
- dragon’s blood sedum
- mondo grass
The best part? These weed-abating plants are not only low maintenance, but they are also quite pretty.
Make sure the plants you select will thrive in your garden’s soil. As much as possible, go for local plants instead of invasive species. Note that deciduous plants shed leaves in the fall, so you may have bare patches in the soil during winter.
Use the Right Kind of Herbicide
Do you have limited time available for pulling out stubborn weeds? Spraying herbicide can be a better option for killing weeds in ground cover.
Herbicides are chemical formulas designed to destroy undesirable plants and hinder them from growing back.
There are 2 types of herbicides:
- Selective herbicides target and kill specific weeds, leaving other plants unharmed. Usually, the label of a selective herbicide lists the target weeds and safe plants.
- Non-selective herbicides will leave no plant alive. These solutions are highly effective, but they will also kill off grass, crops, and other flora exposed to the chemical.
These vary widely in terms of application and ingredients, so it’s best to read instructions carefully.
Start a New Garden Properly
Weeds are a silent danger in new gardens, as they quickly take advantage of freshly tilled soil and abundant sunlight. Here is a step-by-step guide to establishing new ground cover without welcoming these intruders.
- Spray weed killer as instructed before you put in your ground cover. This will kill existing weeds in the soil.
- Use a tiller to get rid of any weeds that survived the herbicide spray.
- Depending on your herbicide solution’s recommendations, wait for two weeks or longer before you start planting.
- Add mulch to your plot to stop new weeds from taking root in ground cover.
Maintain Existing Ground Cover
Is your garden already established? Here are ways that you can get rid of weeds from existing ground cover:
- Regularly inspect the area for weed growth. Pull out each weed by grabbing the stem as close to the ground as possible.
- When removing weeds, make sure you dig out any remaining roots or tubers.
- You can also use a selective herbicide, provided you consult an expert beforehand.
- Apply more mulch as your initial layer thins out.
- Prune ground cover to promote new growth and healthy plants.
With these practical tips, controlling weeds in ground cover is possible. You just need adequate planning, plenty of patience, and constant vigilance. A gardener’s job is never done, but the benefits are worth it.