Really great gardens can be grown on heavy clay soils, if you manage your soil and know what plants to grow.
Clay soil can actually be better for gardening than sandy soil, because it retains moisture and nutrients better and the roots get a firmer grip in the soil. It can, however pose a challenge for even experienced gardeners, and for new gardeners it can often be soul destroying.
If you prepare your beds thoroughly, the plants documented here can be grown successfully.
We are all guilty of it – biting off more than we can chew, carving out a sprawling garden area, planting quart-sized perennials 2′ on center and then weeding like crazy for the next three years, realizing the whole time that every time we pull a weed and disturb the soil, six more take it’s place. It’s a grueling evolution – eventually the design matures and the plants fill in and cover the surface with their leaves, and we stop pulling weeds (but cut the occasional interloper down to the ground). In this scenario, even when we select fast growing ground covers and plant them in large drifts under mature trees, we have fallen short of designing a sustainable low-maintenance landscape. This is especially true in suburban settings when the trees around a house are less dense than they would be in a mature forest. Why? Nature abhors a vacuum and there’s one hovering right above that groundcover layer.
Most properties around houses have at least dappled light reaching the ground. Tree and shrub seedlings as well as many herbaceous plants are adapted to reach up above the groundcover layer to make use of that available sunshine. Even if you don’t plan for them to grow they will keep trying because it’s nature’s way of being ultra-efficient, where nothing is wasted. So, we’ve learned that it’s better to swim with the current instead of against it – get that ground surface covered as quickly as possible, using seeds and plugs to shorten the fill-in time, but also densely layer the planting vertically with plants at different heights. This “tight community” of plants makes the best use of available sunlight at multiple heights while shading the ground surface to prevent weed seed germination. The end game is for the mature plants to elbow their way into their respective niches and form a more stable (low-maintenance) landscape. The key to success is knowing the relative competitive abilities of the chosen plants, and designing layers both in space and time.
young meadow with complex layers
The “tight community” principle can be applied to all of your garden spaces, whether they are meadows, woodlands, or margins. I will cover how to create balanced meadow compositions in another post, so let’s focus now on shady areas. I often have clients tell me that they want to remove lawn where it is struggling under their mature trees (hooray), and replace it with a sea of flowering ground covers. That’s great, and I understand the psychology of tidy level planes, but I don’t think we can stop at just the bottom layer – we need knee high plants, waist high plants, and shoulder high plants too. To avoid the “messy” look of a wild co-mingled planting, we can group plants in chunks big enough to create legibility, but not too large that they lose the competitive advantages of being in their respective niche, and then carve clear slicing paths through the space. I discuss these “ribbons of order” in a previous post in you want to see more examples.
Dense Layers at Garden in the Woods
All landscape designs inherently need to be site specific and answer the goals of each client, but sometimes it helps to have a recipe to kickstart the process. Let’s imagine we’re going to design a 300 SF block that can repeat or vary for a 1,000 SF woodland garden. Now if you add up the individual textbook square-foot requirements for each of these plants they would never all fit into 300 SF, but they are very comfortable as a densely vertically layered planting, especially if some are spring ephemerals or bulbs that make room for plants that emerge in June.
So here’s a basic Layered Woodland Garden Recipe I call “3-15-36-75″ – starting from the top down (usually the order in which I place them in a design). Remember – this is very simplified – you might want an even greater number of species, or add a short-lived quick growing species that could be seeded in as a space filler – but it’s a place to start:
(3) – 3 single small understory trees 10-20′ high (Cercis canadensis, Carpinus caroliniana, Hamamelis virginiana)
(15) – 3 groups of 5 waist high shrubs 3-5′ high (Fothergilla, Rhododendron prinophyllum, Viburnum dentatum)
(36) – 3 groups of 12 knee to waist high perennials 12-36″ high (Polygonatum biflorum, Polemonium reptans, Actaea racemosa)
(75) – 3 groups of 25 groundcovers 3-6″ high (Geranium maculatum, Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’, and Tiarella cordifolia ‘Running Tapestry’)
Specific plant selection depends upon soil type, moisture, light, and existing plants. How they are positioned in the landscape depends upon topography, view frames, and the location of pathways that dissect the block. Infinite variations with a similar principle – that’s what makes design so much fun!
The Secret to a Low-Maintenance Landscape, Seriously.
We are all guilty of it - biting off more than we can chew, carving out a sprawling garden area, planting quart-sized perennials 2’ on center and then weeding like crazy for the next three years, realizing the whole time that every time we pull a weed and disturb the soil, six more take it’s place.
dilfgod this one is slightly more difficult because I didn’t know EXACTLY what it is right off the bat, but because it’s OBVIOUSLY a groundcover plant and it also has that kind of specific “there is no way in hell I can hold myself up” aesthetic going and has those faux woody stems so I knew it was a Sedum and it to me reminded me of just a different leave shape version of a Sedum I have so with some digging I found out this is a Sedum morganium ‘Magnum’and I assume it’s like the “normal version” in that the biggest issue for it is that it’s leaves fall off EXTREMELY EASILY and give it a kind of awkward appearance, so for this one either keep it someplace where it won’t be bumped around, or put in in a hanging pot because it’s just gonna get longer and more dangly from here. You could also next spring trim the stems and reroot them so that they won’t have the bare ends like they do now.
The only groundcover that I have had success with: Blue star creeper, though invasive, and supposedly hard to control this one has yet to spread past where it is now.
Does anyone have a ground cover that’d they’d recommend? I have the worst luck trying to cover the middle path of my home garden. Zone 7b
Last one from our stay at Finca Slow. This was Fab collecting their first ever sheep. Livestock will graze the groundcover under the almond and olive trees and simultaneously fertilise the soil. Ah the magic of #permaculture! #farmlife #Catalonia #homesteading by themuckyroot https://instagram.com/p/6akhfctF7U/
This California Native groundcover is adaptable to a
wide range of growing conditions. It is an excellent choice for median strips, rock
gardens or slopes. Because it has low to average water needs, it does very well
planted under pines and oaks. It has a beautiful trailing habit and grows 4-8
inches tall and 4-8 feet wide, creating a lush silvery carpet with an abundance
of 1” lavender-pink daisy like flowers.
‘Silver Carpet’s’ natural habitat is coastal sage
scrub, chaparral, oak woodlands and grasslands. It is drought tolerant along
the immediate coast and will do best with occasional summer water inland.
Originating from the Big Sur coastal region, it is one of the few plants that
can handle the wind and salt spray if planted right along the shoreline.
This attractive groundcover is deer resistant, blooms
summer through fall, and attracts beneficial pollinators such as bees and
butterflies. It is hardy to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant in full sun along the
coast and full to part sun inland. We are growing Lessingia filaginifolia ‘Silver Carpet’ in our
4.5” quarts and our 1 gallon containers. Give us a call our check out our
website at www.clearwatercolor.com
to see photos and learn more about this plant.
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Herbs can be extant grown either outdoors or by. Some people plant herbs being part of their groundcover and flower gardens. This means that myself have an attractive landscape that is further of service as representing cooking. Additionally, when spices like lavender and chamomile are located in this way groundcover, a heavenly smell permeates the scenic view. Renewed attractive looking herbs that cliff hanger far ceteris paribus groundcover embrace crotchety varieties of thyme, Lippia dulcis (an Aztec herb that adds a complaisant and different flavor), and some mints. Oregano has eyeful flowers, but after two or three years, subliminal self brawn exist too tall for truth-function cover.
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Growing your own spices by having an herb garden can be a gainful experience. You appreciate that there are preferential voting chemical additives, and you have untapped spices for your edibles, which always tastes better anyway.
We have range of rainforest #trees #shrubs #groundcovers ready to plant now. Tube stock starts at $2.50 or we can do the plantings for you. Trees in the ground with mulch and fertiliser for $10 per tree. Call for free site assessments, number in profile. #northernrivers #byronbayhinterland #bushregeneration by booyong_rainforest_creation http://ift.tt/1U5bXDd. Posted on August 25, 2015 at 04:10PM
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Desmodium | a leguminous ground cover that fixes nitrogen into the ground, for plants to use, and soft on your feet - an important quality of a plant, yet often forgotten about if you don’t spend much time outdoors barefoot! #maui #hawaii #permaculture #Mauinewearth #sustainableagriculture #gardening #farming #agriculture #organic #desmodium #legume #groundcover by sjschieb https://instagram.com/p/6d5zO0q4s_/