Groundcovers are nature’s living mulch | TheFencePost.com

Groundcovers are nature’s living mulch

Photo courtesy of Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.Geranium sanguineum is one of the toughest, most beautiful groundcovers for our region.

LINCOLN, Neb. – Thankfully it has become fairly common in recent years to plant trees and shrubs in larger, mulched groupings. Such massing provides an important separation of landscape plantings from the surrounding turfgrass.

This benefits woody plants in a number of crucial ways: When turfgrass is kept away, the roots of trees (and other desirable landscape plants) have less competition for water and nutrients; mower and trimmer damage is often eliminated; and damage from lawn herbicides can be greatly reduced.

Another benefit that is now clearly understood is that trees and shrubs planted closer together naturally help protect each other as they grow. They grow faster, taller and healthier.

Typically in massed tree and shrub plantings a layer of organic mulch, usually wood chips, fills the open spaces between individual plants. The mulch helps preserve soil moisture, reduces weed competition and improves the organic content of the soil (which is very beneficial to most trees and shrubs). Despite the advantages of mulch, there are two main drawbacks: mulch naturally breaks down and needs to be replaced every so often; and no matter how well the mulch layer is maintained, opportunistic weeds eventually fill the open spaces between plants.

A simple strategy to help lessen these problems is to put desirable groundcover plants between trees and shrubs. Groundcovers that eventually fill most of the open space between the woody plants will reduce the amount of open space needing to be weeded or remulched.

Literally hundreds of plants can be used as groundcovers between trees and shrubs. In fact, just about any attractive plant that doesn’t out compete the trees and shrubs would be a desirable candidate. For newer tree and shrub plantings it would even be possible to reflect our prairie heritage and incorporate native plants into the mix. Over time, as trees grow and shade increases, some of these prairie plants likely will fade away and can be converted to more shade-tolerant alternatives.

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The following list of groundcovers or “spacefiller” plants can combine well with tree and shrub groupings. Most of the plants are easy to obtain, don’t require much attention to survive and have a mounding or spreading habit. Some of the plants have the added advantage of being able to survive in the shade as the trees and shrubs mature (* denotes regionally native plants).

LINCOLN, Neb. – Thankfully it has become fairly common in recent years to plant trees and shrubs in larger, mulched groupings. Such massing provides an important separation of landscape plantings from the surrounding turfgrass.

This benefits woody plants in a number of crucial ways: When turfgrass is kept away, the roots of trees (and other desirable landscape plants) have less competition for water and nutrients; mower and trimmer damage is often eliminated; and damage from lawn herbicides can be greatly reduced.

Another benefit that is now clearly understood is that trees and shrubs planted closer together naturally help protect each other as they grow. They grow faster, taller and healthier.

Typically in massed tree and shrub plantings a layer of organic mulch, usually wood chips, fills the open spaces between individual plants. The mulch helps preserve soil moisture, reduces weed competition and improves the organic content of the soil (which is very beneficial to most trees and shrubs). Despite the advantages of mulch, there are two main drawbacks: mulch naturally breaks down and needs to be replaced every so often; and no matter how well the mulch layer is maintained, opportunistic weeds eventually fill the open spaces between plants.

A simple strategy to help lessen these problems is to put desirable groundcover plants between trees and shrubs. Groundcovers that eventually fill most of the open space between the woody plants will reduce the amount of open space needing to be weeded or remulched.

Literally hundreds of plants can be used as groundcovers between trees and shrubs. In fact, just about any attractive plant that doesn’t out compete the trees and shrubs would be a desirable candidate. For newer tree and shrub plantings it would even be possible to reflect our prairie heritage and incorporate native plants into the mix. Over time, as trees grow and shade increases, some of these prairie plants likely will fade away and can be converted to more shade-tolerant alternatives.

The following list of groundcovers or “spacefiller” plants can combine well with tree and shrub groupings. Most of the plants are easy to obtain, don’t require much attention to survive and have a mounding or spreading habit. Some of the plants have the added advantage of being able to survive in the shade as the trees and shrubs mature (* denotes regionally native plants).

LINCOLN, Neb. – Thankfully it has become fairly common in recent years to plant trees and shrubs in larger, mulched groupings. Such massing provides an important separation of landscape plantings from the surrounding turfgrass.

This benefits woody plants in a number of crucial ways: When turfgrass is kept away, the roots of trees (and other desirable landscape plants) have less competition for water and nutrients; mower and trimmer damage is often eliminated; and damage from lawn herbicides can be greatly reduced.

Another benefit that is now clearly understood is that trees and shrubs planted closer together naturally help protect each other as they grow. They grow faster, taller and healthier.

Typically in massed tree and shrub plantings a layer of organic mulch, usually wood chips, fills the open spaces between individual plants. The mulch helps preserve soil moisture, reduces weed competition and improves the organic content of the soil (which is very beneficial to most trees and shrubs). Despite the advantages of mulch, there are two main drawbacks: mulch naturally breaks down and needs to be replaced every so often; and no matter how well the mulch layer is maintained, opportunistic weeds eventually fill the open spaces between plants.

A simple strategy to help lessen these problems is to put desirable groundcover plants between trees and shrubs. Groundcovers that eventually fill most of the open space between the woody plants will reduce the amount of open space needing to be weeded or remulched.

Literally hundreds of plants can be used as groundcovers between trees and shrubs. In fact, just about any attractive plant that doesn’t out compete the trees and shrubs would be a desirable candidate. For newer tree and shrub plantings it would even be possible to reflect our prairie heritage and incorporate native plants into the mix. Over time, as trees grow and shade increases, some of these prairie plants likely will fade away and can be converted to more shade-tolerant alternatives.

The following list of groundcovers or “spacefiller” plants can combine well with tree and shrub groupings. Most of the plants are easy to obtain, don’t require much attention to survive and have a mounding or spreading habit. Some of the plants have the added advantage of being able to survive in the shade as the trees and shrubs mature (* denotes regionally native plants).

LINCOLN, Neb. – Thankfully it has become fairly common in recent years to plant trees and shrubs in larger, mulched groupings. Such massing provides an important separation of landscape plantings from the surrounding turfgrass.

This benefits woody plants in a number of crucial ways: When turfgrass is kept away, the roots of trees (and other desirable landscape plants) have less competition for water and nutrients; mower and trimmer damage is often eliminated; and damage from lawn herbicides can be greatly reduced.

Another benefit that is now clearly understood is that trees and shrubs planted closer together naturally help protect each other as they grow. They grow faster, taller and healthier.

Typically in massed tree and shrub plantings a layer of organic mulch, usually wood chips, fills the open spaces between individual plants. The mulch helps preserve soil moisture, reduces weed competition and improves the organic content of the soil (which is very beneficial to most trees and shrubs). Despite the advantages of mulch, there are two main drawbacks: mulch naturally breaks down and needs to be replaced every so often; and no matter how well the mulch layer is maintained, opportunistic weeds eventually fill the open spaces between plants.

A simple strategy to help lessen these problems is to put desirable groundcover plants between trees and shrubs. Groundcovers that eventually fill most of the open space between the woody plants will reduce the amount of open space needing to be weeded or remulched.

Literally hundreds of plants can be used as groundcovers between trees and shrubs. In fact, just about any attractive plant that doesn’t out compete the trees and shrubs would be a desirable candidate. For newer tree and shrub plantings it would even be possible to reflect our prairie heritage and incorporate native plants into the mix. Over time, as trees grow and shade increases, some of these prairie plants likely will fade away and can be converted to more shade-tolerant alternatives.

The following list of groundcovers or “spacefiller” plants can combine well with tree and shrub groupings. Most of the plants are easy to obtain, don’t require much attention to survive and have a mounding or spreading habit. Some of the plants have the added advantage of being able to survive in the shade as the trees and shrubs mature (* denotes regionally native plants).