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I'm wanting to suppress weeds in my garden with creeping plants, and am wondering if I should get varieties of short plants for my garden so they spread to cover the entire garden so I can go around on it bare foot.

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Well, you could consider using some form of bindweed. It is a common hardy "weed" that usually grows white or blue flowers. It can be a great ground cover and requires very minimal maintenance. It's roots usually grow about 2-3 inches below the surface and are incredibly easy to remove, they usually grow straight down as well.

Another option would be a plant like Bishops weed or what is more commonly known as Snow on the mountains. Unlike bindweed, Bishops weed will take some maintenance on your part.

Keep in mind that while bindweed will never grow more than 2-3 inches above the ground, Bishops can get around 5-6 inches tall. Also, please note, that unless your garden is a squash, melon or tomato garden (big plants, large roots) I would never suggest growing a creeping plant inside it. There is always a chance that without proper maintenance and pruning these creeping "weeds" will choke your garden plants to death.

  • that's why I'm thinking sea bean, and creeping thyme for the cover. Some people consider mushrooms weeds, but I like to hunt them. – black thumb Mar 6 '19 at 20:01
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    @blackthumb Sea bean would probobly grow too tall but the thyme could work. – Rob Mar 6 '19 at 21:02
  • so sea bean goes in a corner in a USDA zone 4A :D – black thumb Mar 7 '19 at 2:18
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There are a few problems with that idea:

  1. Don't tread on any insects (e.g. ants) that will bite your feet.

  2. Likewise, don't tread on any bird droppings etc!

  3. The creeping plants won't stop at suppressing the weeds, they will also suppress your other plants when they are still small. If the creeping plants aren't strong growing enough to behave like "weeds" themselves, frequent walking on them will soon kill them.

  4. They will also take nutrients and water away from your other plants.

If you really want to go this way, I suggest you change "creeping plants" to "grass". That might sound and look boring, and you will have to mow it regularly, but it won't have any unexpected bad side effects.

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    Grass is one of the worst garden weeds, in my opinion, since it spreads very very quickly into cleared soil. It also will do nothing to suppress major weeds (dandelions, creeping charlie, white clover) and could still harbor ants and bird droppings. If it got into your planting rows, it could easily out-compete any vegetable seedlings that are coming up. The only way I'd use it in a vegetable garden would be if I edged it to prevent its expansion. That's a whole lot of work, though, depending on the length and number of your rows. – Jurp Feb 3 '19 at 16:11
  • why wouldn't you want creeping plants like thyme, when they will provide shade for the soil to keep moisture under them, and with where the garden is going it'll have plenty of water (creek is next to it, and 2 feet lower)? – black thumb Feb 3 '19 at 20:11
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    I used creeping thyme as a groundcover once. Within three years it had invaded the lawn and began killing it - I never did manage to completely eradicate it over the following four years (I moved before it was gone). Six plants in 4" pots spread something like 24" each over two+ seasons. The thyme also appeared to reseed itself viciously. Wooly thyme might have been better in my situation, as it tends to be better behaved. As far as I remember, though, no variety of thyme is considered to be a very walkable groundcover. The fabric will also shade the soil and conserve water, BTW. – Jurp Feb 3 '19 at 20:38
  • The amount of water your garden will get from the creek depends very much on the nature of the subsoil. It could any amount between "too much" and "zilch". – alephzero Feb 3 '19 at 20:49
  • always wet creek = natural surface water table = plenty of water that soaked into the soil = happy plants that can drink to meet their growing desires. – black thumb Mar 6 '19 at 20:17
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One idea that works is to use high-grade landscape fabric between the rows—18-24" (50-60cm) usually is wide enough. I use this myself, with ground staples holding the fabric in place. This is not a perfect solution by any means — if you live in a cold-winter environment, the staples have a tendency to frost-heave, and the fabric when wet can be slippery. I've also had issues with moss growing on it and some weeds coming up in the staple-holes. I don't know that you'd want to walk on it with bare feet, either. Still, it's better than nothing, keeps weeds from growing on the paths, and, because you're not walking between the rows, it keeps the soil there from becoming compacted.

In my garden, I keep the paths "two sword lengths apart" - that is, 6 feet apart. I'm tall and have a good reach, so this allows me to reach the center of each vegetable bed by kneeling on the path on either side of it.

  • problem here is I have 1 foot of wood chips down for composting like youtube.com/watch?v=YCtafUgoCX0 – black thumb Feb 3 '19 at 20:15
  • I think the guy in the video got the cause of the improvement wrong. IMO he got two feet of good soil in the paths from 8 years of having earthworms in the raised beds. The woodchips were just a sideshow. FWIW I've just been doing some redesign on my own garden in the UK which used to be solid red clay (i.e. unbaked bricks) 20 years ago. There was a good depth of quality soil underneath paths made from concrete slabs, where originally there was only red clay and a bit of builders sand to bed the slabs into! No wood chips ever used anywhere. – alephzero Feb 3 '19 at 20:57

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