MTC
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Location: Michigan

Good ground cover species?

I'm ripping a whole lot of invasive species out of my yard, and I feel like I'm leaving completely bare ground behind me. I'd rather not plant grass--it doesn't really bother to grow in most of my yard anyway, even if I re-seed it. Is there a native plant/plants that would preferably spread and cover at least some of the soil? I have both shady and sunny areas. Bonus points if I can just order seeds, but I'm willing to search for it/them if I need to. I live near some big farmer's markets.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Good ground cover species?

Ummm .... how would we know what is native for you, when you didn't give us any clue even what continent you are on (we do have people writing in here from all over the world)? You may have mentioned it in one of your earlier posts, but I'm not going to go search. You can be sure to write it in every time or your can change your profile, so that your location shows under your screen name as mine does.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

MTC
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Re: Good ground cover species?

I apologize for the oversight; I meant to include my location but apparently didn't. I'm in Michigan.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Good ground cover species?

I applaud your desire to use native plants. It is better for the environment, for native wildlife including birds and butterflies, and will be more robust and hardy for you. It does make plant selection a bit more challenging.

You didn't say if you intend to be walking on this ground cover like you would a lawn?

For a shady to part shade area, a very nice evergreen native ground cover is partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) . It stays about two inches high, gets pretty little fragrant white flowers followed by red berries which birds like (hence the name). It requires acidic soil and is not very drought tolerant and also will tolerate only minimal foot traffic.

Virginia creeper is a very adaptable vine which can also be used as a ground cover. It gets beautiful fall colored foliage, grows fast, tolerates sun/shade, gets berries that birds like (but are toxic to people and pets [but they are painful to eat so pets usually don't eat enough to be harmful] ). You don't want to let it grow up buildings because it suckers and can be damaging.

If your area is going to get a lot of foot traffic, then you probably need to think about native grasses. These would include Junegrass, little bluestem, grama grass, switchgrass. These will not give you the smooth golf course lawn effect, they grow clumpier than that. But they are tough and hardy and don't have to be mowed (or you can mow every once in awhile to keep it evened out a bit. This is little bluestem, left unmowed:

Image

Other possibilities that aren't quite your typical ground cover include bearberry (kinnikinnik) which is a is a low growing, spreading shrub, that only gets about a foot tall. It is evergreen. It is a little slow to establish in the first year or so, but then will spread well and be exceptionally hardy and low maintenance. Juniper is also native for you and has prostrate, spreading forms.

You could order any of these on line or look for a native plant nursery near you.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

MTC
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Joined: Thu May 11, 2017 4:26 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Good ground cover species?

Thank you so, so much! That was incredibly helpful. I've ordered bearberry and partridgeberry to see how they do in my yard; I'm still thinking about the grass. Most of the highest foot traffic areas in my yard already have grass, so I'll probably wait a few years to start replacing that with a native. I do have a lot of areas with very little foot traffic where the other species can go.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Good ground cover species?

Cool! Let us know how it goes! I've always wanted to grow partridgeberry. It has so many plusses (native! evergreen! fragrant flowers! grows in shade! ) but somehow I've never quite had the right spot for it (alkaline soil where I was until our recent move). Some day I will make a place for it.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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