by Steve Graham, Networx
A neighborhood full of Kentucky Blue grass lawns is also a neighborhood full of sprinklers, mowers, fertilizers and weeds. Here are some of the many alternative ground cover plants that require less water, fertilizer, and maintenance. Most of these plants are low-growing, drought-resistant, and spread easily. But they are all attractive and long-lasting, too. You should till the soil and kill any perennial weeds before planting a new ground cover, but some of these varieties are weed-resistant and don’t need rich, fertilized soil.
Prairie Zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora) can turn a large, open patch of the yard into a beautiful, low maintenance flower garden. The plant creates a six-inch mat with bright yellow daisy-shaped flowers. Each plant only lasts two to three years, but the seeds spread and colonize a yard quickly. It forms a thick cover that blocks weeds. It never needs water after the first weeks of growth. In fact, it can’t handle too much water and should only be planted in arid regions. Photo credit: friggy_30/Flickr
The Blue Wooly Speedwell (Veronica pectinata) creates a lovely deep green groundcover that lasts through the winter. Spring brings a profusion of small deep blue flowers. Some of the flowers survive all year, even with almost no water. The plant needs an occasional deep soaking and a quick trim of dead flowerheads to keep it pretty. It lasts in most any soil type, but works best in well-drained soils. It can beautifully cascade over a wall and handles some light shade. It is dense enough to block weeds and spreads quickly — so quickly that the edges may also need a trim once or twice a year.
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