Ground Cover That Tolerates Herbicides?
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Vanessa Ledlie
Posted on: February 3, 2004

I have a large sun drenched area I need to plant ground cover. I am located near Barrie, ON (zone 3-4), Canada. My flower garden borders this area. I need something that:

1. I can spray for weeds/grass (am I crazy?)

2. will not invade the garden

3. can grow from seed preferably

4. preferably not too colourful

What do you think?

Your first requirement that the plant not be killed by weed killers is a real problem.

There are three types of weed killers that I am aware of:

1. Herbicides that kill monocots selectively (but they usually damage the odd dicot too, such as Fusillade 2000 that kills grasses and campanulas).

2. Herbicides that kill dicots (but some dicots are not impressed by them and stay alive anyway, such as 2-4-D that kills most non- grasses but the dicot burdock is not much fazed by it).

3. Herbicides that kill all vegetation (except the odd species that is resistant to it; an example would be Round-Up – probably the most benign for humans of all the herbicides I know of – that kills everything – even burdock! – except the species that Monsanto has genetically engineered to be resistant to it).

In typical lawns with grasses, herbicides of the second type are used. Grasses being monocots are resistant to the sprays and only the dicots -- the broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, plantains, clovers, etc. -- are killed. The trouble is, all of the alternative herbal ground covers are dicots also. So, inevitably, a herbal ground cover means that some hand weeding is necessary because there is no spray that selectively kills the weeds and leaves the herbs alone.

None of the ground cover plants we recommend on our web-site are invasive. To find the recommendations go to our web-site at and go to the "Magazine Rack"; there you will find an article on ground covers from seeds.

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