Groundcover to Replace Crownvetch, Goldenrod and Ragweed
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Spencer White
Posted on: August 03, 2004

I have been a customer of yours for some years now, and appreciate the quality of plants and service I’ve always received.

There is a slope (30 degrees) on my property that is in full sun most of the day, and presently is covered with Crown-vetch, Goldenrod and Ragweed. I would like to eliminate the above, and plant a groundcover in the spring that is not as invasive as the Vetch, and that doesn’t grow quite as tall as the Vetch, so I can see and pull the undesirables like the Ragweed. The area involved is about 3500 square feet.

Because of the area involved you should first consider herbs that can be started from seeds. Buying plants to adequately cover the area would be very expensive. Unfortunately there are relatively few herbs that are a) low groundcovers, b) hardy in temperate areas (where I assume you are located), c) able to compete with weeds, d) non-invasive, and most important, e) can be raised from seeds. The herb that springs immediately to mind as offering the greatest chance of success is wild thyme (Thymus pulegioides). It’s only serious drawback is that the seeds are very fine (4000 seeds per gram) and hence it is a bit tricky to get established over a large area as yours. I recommend that you sow the seeds in plug trays until they are strong enough for transplanting to the area in question. That way the plants will get established before the weeds have a chance to crowd them out. It is not impossible to sow directly on the site but if you choose to go that route you must make sure that the site is completely free of weeds, and kept weeded, until the thyme can fill in. You must also take great care not to plant too deeply.

For indirect sowing (sowing plug trays) you need 0.5-1.0 grams per 100 square feet, or 18-35 grams. You will need 4-8 plugs per square foot depending on how quickly you want the area to fill in. For direct sowing over the area in question, you will need 1-2 grams per 100 square feet. or 35-70 grams.

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