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Archive for May, 2012

Ajuga – Fast Spreading Groundcover for Beneath Trees & Difficult Areas

Need a fast spreading drought proof groundcover that will grow beneath trees?

Chocolate Chip Ajuga is an attractive deer proof groundcover that nestles in nicely between pavers, under trees, and other hard to grow areas in sun or shade

Ajuga or Bugleweed is easy to grow and virtually maintenance free perennial groundcover for hard to grow places.  I’m particularly fond of Chocolate Chip Ajuga (‘Valfredda’) where it can easily cover an 18” area in just one season.  It is one of my favorite ground covers beneath trees where other groundcover struggle and it looks great year-round!

Ajuga is a deer proof evergreen groundcover with vibrant foliage and showy purple flowers in spring. Low growing mats are only 3” tall. Hardy to Zone 4-9,  It thrives in both sun and shade.

Growing anything under trees can be difficult. First of all, trees create a “rain shadow” where it is always drier beneath a tree.  Secondly, some trees such as maples, poplars and willow have heavy feeder roots that rest near the surface, making it virtually impossible to grow, let alone even dig a hole for planting.

Beware of Ajuga Lawn! If planted close to turf, Ajuga will spread into your lawn which becomes difficult to eradicate.

Ajuga is ideal with its  shallow roots that grow within just a few inches of the ground.  It competes effectively between tree roots and drier conditions while spreading quickly by way of runners. Runners are easily removed if it gets beyond its bounds.

Ajuga is not a groundcover for everybody or to be placed in a mixed perennial border.

Ajuga is one of the best groundcovers for weed control. Weeds find it tough to sprout through their thick root system.

Ajuga Tips

  • Avoid “Ajuga lawn” by planting away from  turf or you’ll have a co-mingling of lawn & Ajuga.
  • Don’t plant anything nearby unless you are using beneath shrubs or trees.
  • Thick root system makes Ajuga ideal for erosion control
  • Ideal between pavers
  • Excellent for large areas where you want to have a quick spread
  • Ideal under shallow rooted trees where nothing else will grow

Related Articles

Growing Plants Under Walnut Trees

8 Best Shade Loving Groundcovers

Problem Solving Plants for Slopes & Banks

Where to Shop for Ajuga Chocolate Chip

Climbing Hydrangea – Shade Loving Flowering Vine

Climbing Hydrangeas are one of the few flowering vines that will grow well in shade

Climbing Hydrangea or Hydrangea anomala petiolaris is one of the few hardy flowering vines that will tolerate shade.

This colossal climbing vine requires sturdy support (such as a tree) and thrives in part shade conditions. A fast growing deciduous vine, climbing Hydrangeas will grow 30 feet tall or more.   It is hardy from Zones 4-9.

This climber clings by tentacles (like ivy) on any surface.  It’s easy to train up a tree.  Once planted, simply lay the stems near the tree and it will stick like super glue.  You never have to do anything to them except an occasional prune to keep them within bounds.

Attractive green heart-shaped glossy foliage is accented with showy white fragrant lace-cap type blooms in early summer.

If grown as a ground cover, Climbing Hydrangea can cover up to 200 square feet once established

If grown as a ground cover it can cover up to 200 square feet once established.

Give Hydrangea fertile, moist, well drained soil.

Climbing Hydrangea can take a couple of years to establish itself in the landscape, so it requires a bit of patience.  After 2 years or so, they really take off.  I can tell you it is definitely worth the wait as it offers the most stunning vertical beauty for any shade garden.

Ornamental Grass for Privacy Screen or Low Growing Hedge

Feather Reed Grass is used as a low growing screen to hide an unsightly utility box

Feather Reed Grass or Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ is definitely one of my favorite ornamental grasses to use as a privacy screen, low growing hedge or to add vertical height to the perennial garden.

This non-flopping, sun-loving vertical grass is a delightful accent that is both easy to grow and easy to maintain.  The slightest breeze sets this grass in motion.

Professional landscapers and garden designers love using Calamagrostis for creating a fast developing screen or Hedge Plant.

Calamagrostis will  add height while create a focal point or accent in the  sun loving perennial garden.

Facts about Calamagrostis Karl Foerster:

  • Grows up to 60” (in flower)
  • Tolerates a wide range of soil from clay to dry sand
  • Blooms early in the season (most grasses bloom late)
  • Drought Tolerant once established
  • Deer Proof
  • Winter Interest
  • Salt Tolerant
  • Low maintenance
  • Landscape appeal from summer thru winter.
  • Long lasting cut flowers
  • Virtually pest free
Calamagrostis Karl Foerster makes an ideal Hedge Plant

Calamagrostis offers 3 seasons of interest planted in a long row

The only thing I do in the spring is cut back the stems to about 6 inches from the ground in late winter or early spring.

Calamagrostis pairs well with many garden plants when it comes to garden design.  Partner with Tall Sedums, Butterfly Bush, or other Ornamental Grasses.

If you are looking for a an easy perennial to grow and maintain, this ornamental grass might be just the ticket.

More on:

Ornamental Grasses

Hedge Plants

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