I have an ara in the garden that I want to spread a low growing cover crop like mint, or clover (microgreens). What mix should I consider growing in the area? Eventually fruit trees, bushes, and rhubarb (ground cover layer) will take over the area.

USDA zone 4a.

  • Mint is incredibly invasive. I would be more worried about the mint than the grass. Having said that, what is your motivation for the cover crop? Is it just to prevent weeds, or do you want to improve the soil somehow? – SethMMorton Apr 28 at 2:36
  • mint stays short, and I want to make it easier to pick stuff in the orchard. – black thumb May 3 at 19:09
  • I would look at clover or creeping thyme, they are more drought tolerant than mint and also tolerate being waked on. – SethMMorton May 3 at 19:48
  • i have excess water – black thumb May 4 at 22:43
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    It sounds like you want to plant mint, so why not just plant it and see? What information are you looking to get here? – SethMMorton May 4 at 23:10

Based on the title of the question, it sounds like you want this cover crop to successfully compete with grass. Given that, I would recommend something like a white clover. It is very dense, can easily compete with grass, and is pretty low-growing. It also very well tolerates being walked on (source, my front lawn is entirely clover and it holds up just as well as grass). It also fixes nitrogen in your soil, improving it for the other things you want to grow there later.

I really wouldn't recommend mint for a few reasons. First, it's not all that short. My mint plants are easily 12 inches tall, and they are not even getting close to the amount of sun they should. I would anticipate 18 or more inches. Second, the structure of the mint plant does not appear as though it would tolerate being walked on at all - I would expect it to break/snap and stay flat on the ground. Last, while it will establish and spread (it is invasive after all), it is not particularly dense so I wouldn't expect it to prevent grass from growing - I can imagine it co-existing with the grass rather than choking it out.

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