Soil Preperation For Ground Covers: Cool Greenery

The preperation of the soil for planting ground covers should be as thorough as possible. A few kinds, such as sedums, thymes and achilleas (yarrow), will grow in poor soils with little or no improvement, but these and most others become established more quickly, cover the ground more rapidly and remain permanetly attractive if they have a good medium in witch to root. Turn the soil over to a depth of 6 in. or so with a spade, fork or rototiller, removing the roots of pernicious perennial weeds. Incorporate in it organic material such as compost or manure, as well as a dressing of bone meal or superphosphate.

Either spring or fall is appropriate for setting out ground cover plants, but on steep slopes spring is much to be prefered because then new growth starts quickly and roots soon ramify through the soil. There are erosion controlling nettings and fabrics available which will not interfere with the rooting of small plants.

On steep banks it is sometimes practical to prepare only individual stations or planting holes for strong growing covers that are to be spaced rather widely, as, for example, Hall's Japanese honesuckle, trailing roses and small bushes.

For such station planting on steep banks, to reduce erosion, a splendid mulch is black polyethylene plastic film. This can be rolled out accross the slope so that the edges overlap the strip above it in the opposite maner from that of shingles on a roof. Rainwater will thus be carried to the roots of the plants rather than over the plastic. The strips should securely pegged in place. Plants are set through holes cut in the polyethylene film.