Best ground cover for preventing weeds?

ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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My garden just has pebbles on it, no grass. It's quite a big area and although I've spayed it with weed killer just a few weeks ago, there's already lots of weeds back. I was thinking of getting some fast growing ground cover plants. Something like creeping Jenny, tumbling ted, or cranesbill (just from what I've been reading, I'm completely clueless really).

At the garden centre, they said I should cover the soil with some sheeting first to prevent weeds. What I'm wondering is, will this sheeting not prevent these ground cover plants from spreading out? I thought they would 'root' themselves as they grow and surely the sheeting would prevent that?

Any recommendations for suitable plants would be great too. I just want something that will stop the weeds and look nice.

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  • doodle-bug_2doodle-bug_2 Forumite
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    Dianthus erinaceus is a good one. You could plant it after cutting a hole in the weed sheet. After a couple of years, mine has spread nearly three feet.

    If you lift up the edge, it goes right back to the original roots - it doesn't seem to root as it goes along, just gets longer! It looks fabulous in the spring when it flowers. Otherwise, it just stays green.

    I've often found that you can't go far wrong with alpines - they are quite hardy and very pretty, normally being quite low to the ground too.
  • ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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    Would I still need the sheeting if I have ground cover plants, or will they stop weeds on their own? At the minute, the stones are straight on top of the soil, and the only things growing are non stop weeds.

    If I was to add the sheeting, all the stones would need to be removed first, which does seem like a lot of hassle, but perhaps would be worth it in the long run. Could anyone tell me of the sheeting has to be replaced, or will it last indefinitely?
  • doodle-bug_2doodle-bug_2 Forumite
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    I don't use sheeting, and get a few weeds but not many. These are also usually easy to pull up as the ground cover plants (when mature) seem to prevent them from getting a good grip. The odd dandelion needs some pulling, but otherwise seems easy.
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    ripplyuk wrote: »
    Would I still need the sheeting if I have ground cover plants, or will they stop weeds on their own? At the minute, the stones are straight on top of the soil, and the only things growing are non stop weeds.

    If I was to add the sheeting, all the stones would need to be removed first, which does seem like a lot of hassle, but perhaps would be worth it in the long run. Could anyone tell me of the sheeting has to be replaced, or will it last indefinitely?

    Ground cover sheet comes in different qualities and the cheap, spun bonded stuff will probably fail in a few years. But in a few years newly laid gravel will also begin to trap enough detritus for a few weeds to get a foothold anyway. It's a slow process, but it happens.

    I have large areas of stone/gravel and I live in the countryside, so spraying glyphosate with a knapsack kit is routine about once every 6 weeks in summer. It works and doesn't take any longer than mowing that area of grass, nor does it cost much with weedkiller bought in bulk.

    That's just the hard surfaces. In the garden, covering ground is imperative, and of course I can't use weedkiller there. Plants do the job and there are hundreds, but obviously, evergreen/grey ones and dense shrubs like viburnum tinus are best.

    Don't reinvent the wheel. Just go on line and look for ground cover plants. You can find lists like this:

    https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=818

    And even dodgy forums:

    http://www.gardenersworld.com/forum/plants/ground-cover/76891.html

    You will have to weed through these carefully too. Some plants recommended might be worse than weeds themselves! :rotfl:
  • ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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    Should I not use weed killer in the garden? The lady at the garden centre said to spray glyphosate but to be careful when I'm going around the plants.

    A friend suggested turning it back to grass, saying it would be the lowest maintenance option, but I'm not sure. I've gone off the idea of the ground cover sheeting so I'd have to cover most of the area with plants, which would be a lot.
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    ripplyuk wrote: »
    Should I not use weed killer in the garden? The lady at the garden centre said to spray glyphosate but to be careful when I'm going around the plants.

    A friend suggested turning it back to grass, saying it would be the lowest maintenance option, but I'm not sure. I've gone off the idea of the ground cover sheeting so I'd have to cover most of the area with plants, which would be a lot.

    Yes, you can use weedkiller in the garden, but if you have the amount of ground cover plants needed, there won't be room: that's the point.

    Grass is fine if you don't dislike mowing, if you have a decent mower and the conditions are OK for grass. Bad drainage and shade make some people's lawns an uphill battle.
  • madjackslammadjackslam Forumite
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    Weeds are simply plants that are happy in your garden, but in the wrong place. So decide what you want in that space (eg, flowers, a lawn, or clean gravel) and then take the steps you need to take to achieve that. Regardless of which option you choose, though, you will always get other plants coming along and trying to colonise the space. To get rid of them, you will either have to handweed/hoe/use weedkiller depending on the situation and your eagerness to have exactly what you set out to achieve.

    No plant wants to stay in the nice, neat mound you want it to. If it's happy, it will try to grow bigger/seed itself around, etc. If it's unhappy, it will pop its cloggs!
  • ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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    My mum has some large shrubs that she's planning to get rid off, to the dump. I don't know what they are except that they are mostly evergreens and must thrive on neglect as my mum has rarely managed to keep a plant alive, and these are quite old. Would it be possible for me to dig these up and replant them in my garden? Or are they unlikely to survive this?

    I've been making a list of some other shrubs/plants to get and I came across flower carpet roses. I'm a bit confused though, because it says they are good ground cover (photos look gorgeous!), but don't roses die back in the winter? Would the ground not end up bare or covered in weeds then?
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