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In front of my house there is a sidewalk and about 2-3 feet of pavement behind a fence which I'm assuming was formerly dirt that was paved over. I've done my best to work with what I've got and make it look nice, but I'd love to find a solution to the weeds that keep popping up in the cracks in the pavement and sidewalk.

The front of my house gets a lot of sun but has poor drainage. Most days the area is dry and dusty. The cracks gather a lot of dusty dirt over time and I've pulled out weeds with pretty large root balls. Is there any particular type of groundcover or seed I can sow in the sidewalk cracks or in my single garden square that will outgrow the weeds, survive, and maybe even look good? This is in the Northeast US in zone 6.

Edit: The cracks are 1"-2" wide and always filled with 1"-2" of dirt. Dirt often builds up over the cracks to about 4"+ sizes. I usually try to pull the weeds and sweep it into my sidewalk plot, but it would be much easier/more satisfying to throw some seeds in the sidewalk dirt "chunks" and cracks. I don't have a picture at the moment but I will post one as soon as I can!

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"rsgoheen" answer is a good one in my opinion. Some additional information would help. 1) How wide are the cracks? 2) Posting a photo or two of the area your dealing with might prove helpful to those answering your question. –  Mike Perry Aug 12 '11 at 16:23
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Below are a few plants I researched for your particular requirements:

If Moss appeals to you, take a look at the following (free) downloadable book:

I must admit, before reading that book, I hadn't really thought of Moss as being a good choice for dry, sunny locations, but the book states that certain varieties will only reach their full potential when grown in such conditions.

I found the following resource to be useful when checking if Moss varieties given in the above referenced book are valid options for North America:

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I don't really know what's the width of the "cracks" you're talking about, but if it's really the narrow cracks I'm assuming it is, where the two pieces of concrete are pretty much still abutting each other, you're going to have difficulty cultivating anything there. The seeds of weeds may blow into small holes and grass shoots may find their way up, but it's not going to be easy for any gardener to try and "plant" anything in that space. You might be able to find a particularly aggressive plant that would be able to grow roots beneath the pavement and come up through the cracks, but I'd worry that anything that would be able to do that might be too aggressive for the rest of your garden.

If you want to stop fighting the weeds, I'd advise tackling the pavement itself. Either fill in the cracks, or widen them out so that you can really grow something there (like growing ground cover between paving stones). Filling in the cracks isn't that difficult (here is a pretty good instructional video I found on YouTube after a quick googling) and should hold up pretty well for a few seasons. Widening out the cracks would take a bit more mechanical work

In general, I've dealt with weeds and grass coming up in pavement cracks with an electric weed whacker and a hori-hori knife. I've also used a wire brush on a handle like this, but it does take a bit of elbow grease to wipe out weeds. You can also use a propane torch, and of course, there's always herbicides, but I tend to stay away from those as much as I can.

Update (based on comments): my answer does show the hole in my knowledge, that I don't know what plant might make a good choice for your particular climate. I'm sure there are several that will work in this climate and can grow in those gaps. I'm particular to dwarf mondo grasses and creeping thyme varieties, both of which can grow into narrow spaces.

That said, I doubt that you'll find anything that will completely crowd out the weeds, and something that's very aggressive might bring on other issues. I've fought my own battles with unwanted plants coming up in the middle of ground covers, and have found that nothing is going to completely replace some tending to pull out weeds or other invaders. They will help keep out some of the weeds, and will certainly look better than what you have now, but don't toss out that patio crack weeder yet.

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I think a particularly aggressive plant is what I'm looking for. These areas are separate from my actual "garden" (in pots), so I'm not concerned about spreading from sidewalk to pots (or should I be?) –  Sarah Aug 12 '11 at 16:42
    
Otherwise, great suggestions for weed control on sidewalks. I'm just wondering if there is a way I can let a plant do the work in this situation, and make the area in front of my house look interesting at the same time. –  Sarah Aug 12 '11 at 16:45
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