Take the 2-minute tour ×
Gardening & Landscaping Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gardeners and landscapers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have a large hillside area, where usually weeds are out of control. For the next year, I am thinking about using some kind of ground-cover plants such as English Ivy to cover the area. I am not sure that I need to put landscape fabric before I doing so. Can it prevents weed from coming back next year?

Addition Information: I live Pennsylvania.

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Think twice, no three times before planting English Ivy. It is considered an invasive species in the US, and on the "noxious species" list of 46 States. Basically, plant that stuff and you risk it becoming a much bigger problem than any weed problem you have at the moment! Garden centers should be shot for stocking that stuff.

Sorry, had to say that! Ground cover is the best long term way of keeping weeds down. And it looks good too. Just choose something native.

Landscape fabric is all the rage at the moment and on another question I suggested it for strawberries, and I have used it under edging stones. However, I am not inclined to use it over large areas. First it does not rot down (or not quickly enough - our city used it under a retaining wall at the front here and it hasn't rotted after almost 10 years). Next, you have to poke holes in it for the roots. This might be fine for shrubs, but it would not work for ground cover that spreads (which is what you really want). So I would be inclined not to use it unless you can find a type that rots in, say, 3 years to give short term protection only.

What can you use instead? Aggressively weed first, including all roots that you can get. Weedkillers might be an option (I know a rainforest restoration project that starts with a treatment of Round-Up!). Plant your ground cover plants, and then mulch. Be aggressive with weed removal when you see them (invest in a hoe if necessary) - this is what I have done with my pepper beds and currently do with my xeriscape bed (we have an aggressive grass problem but one year of aggressive weeding complete with root removal and the second year is much easier).

share|improve this answer
    
+1 Good to know about the fabric, I am planning some covering in areas around my house and was wondering what would be best. Thanks! –  MichaelF Sep 1 '11 at 12:47
add comment

Agree with "winwaed" answer, especially the part about "English Ivy".

If I had to recommend one plant for your situation (ground-cover plant to cover a hillside area) from the plants I used (see below), it would be:

Once established it will spread more like 10 to 12ft (3 to 3.6m), but it can easily be trimmed back to suit specific requirements...

Late last year (November 2010) when I started working on our (Missouri) native garden -- approx 50 feet (15m) x 30 feet (9m) on a an approx 30° slope -- I decided not to use a landscape fabric or put down a layer of mulch.

A little bit of information relating to my native garden that I've already posted here on SE:

Q. Why didn't I put down a landscape fabric?

  • Save money.

  • A native landscape in nature doesn't have a landscape fabric layer.

  • I did think about getting a bio-degradable landscape fabric, something that would break down within 2 years at the most, and would help with any soil erosion while the (≈170) plants established themselves, but I decided it wasn't worth the expense or time to put down.

    • To date I've lost 2 plants (which have been replaced) due to soil erosion when we experienced almost unbelievable rainfalls (+3inches / +75mm in 24 hour periods) during May, first week of June.

    • Now the plants have been in the ground more than 3 months, I'll be surprised if I lose anymore due to "soil erosion".

Q. Why didn't I put down a mulch layer?

  • Getting enough mulch material onto the slope area didn't seem to be worth the amount of work involved.

    • Especially when I factored in, mulch shouldn't touch the plants (for plant health reasons).

Below is a summary of what I did (right or wrong):

  1. Beginning of November 2010 we had a large "dead" (unsafe) Willow tree taken down, removed professionally.

  2. After the tree was removed, by hand I cleared the area down to the ground and sowed a Winter cover crop of Annual Rye grass.

  3. Read a lot! about Missouri native plants and spoke with a handful of Missouri "expert" gardeners.

  4. Put together "Plant type list".

  5. Drew the garden in AutoCAD and played with different plant layouts. Choose the layout we liked most and from that extracted a complete "Plant type/number list".

  6. Ordered all the plants from, Missouri Wildflowers Nursery (no affiliation, just a very! happy customer).

    • To save some money, we bought "plug" plants ie Very young and small plants.
  7. After a lot! of soul-searching and speaking with those same Missouri "expert" gardeners, I decided I would use (basic/original) Roundup (Active ingredient: Glyphosate).

    • I'm still not happy I went this routine, nor do I think I'll ever be...

    • I considered going the "Soil solarization" route, but I wasn't prepared to wait until April 2012 before I could start planting.

  8. Beginning of April 2011, I again by hand cleared the area down to the ground.

    • Afterward I selectively applied "Roundup" to unwanted plants, vines, that I'd cut down to the ground.

    • Two weeks later (mid April), I again by hand cleared the area down to the ground, then selectively applied "Roundup".

    • Two weeks after that (end of April), I again by hand cleared the area down to the ground, then selectively applied "Roundup" for the last time.

  9. End of April 2011, I collected all the "plug" plants I'd ordered.

  10. Due to the weather (unbelievable rainfall) I wasn't able to get out into the garden and plant until 22nd May 2011.

    • Before doing so, I once again by hand cleared the area down to the ground.
  11. Finished planting on 24th May 2011.

  12. Every Sunday morning I go out into our native garden for an hour with a hoe in hand and clear any unwanted plants that have popped their heads up above the ground.

    • The past 3 or 4 weeks I've definitely noticed a lot! less unwanted plants popping up. I'm now out there hoeing for 30 minutes at the most -- and bare in mind I'm an annal retentive freak (so says my wife).
  13. During July and August (unbelievably hot, we had 21 continuous days of +100° / +38°C temperatures with zero rainfall) I've had to water the native garden every 2 to 3 days.

    • I've lost 5 plants (which have been replaced) due to excessive heat.

    • Next year I expect to water our native garden once a week at the most during excessive heat periods -- the plants should well be on their way to being established by then.

If you wish to go the native plant routine, I gathered together a few resources for you:

Below are a few photos from my Native Garden project: (click images to enlarge)

2010-11-01, Before Willow tree and area was cleared

Willow tree and overgrown garden area

2010-11-05, After Willow tree and area has been cleared

Cleared garden area

2011-04-30, "plug" plants waiting for planting

"Plug" plants

2011-05-07, Annual Rye grass still growing well, even after being cut down to the ground 3 times during April and Roundup having been selectively applied to unwanted plants

Garden area covered in Annual Rye grass

2011-05-22, Area after once again being cleared to the ground, immediately before planting

Cleared garden area

2011-05-24, Area immediately after planting

Planted garden area

2011-08-28, Native garden 14 weeks after being planted

Planted garden area

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.