Saturday, July 23, 2011

Strawberry Ground cover for Front-Yard Evergreen Garden

     Yesterday, I stopped by Wildtype Design, Native Plants & Seeds, Ltd. to snap a picture of the owner’s front yard for this blog. I thought I’d be there for a minute and gone without anyone being the wiser, but I got caught in the act. Naturally, I took the opportunity to ask some questions about the owner’s take on lawnless yards. 
Front-yard ground cover: wild strawberries and common cinquefoil
     When I first saw this yard, I assumed it was covered exclusively with wild strawberries. Actually, the ground cover is a combination of wild strawberries and common cinquefoil. Why both? For diversity. One may do very well in one area while the other shines elsewhere, but they look so much alike that the ground cover appears homogeneous. You can throw in other ground covers for more diversity, like Virginia creeper or sweet potatoes.
     How would my evergreens fit into this? Like meat in soup, the ‘soup’ being the basic ground cover of strawberries and cinquefoil.
     I found all this so inspiring that I left Wildtype with lots of...ah...soup.

                                                    The Evergreen Garden

Front Yard viewed from porch.  Evergreen garden is in background.

     The initial purpose of the evergreen garden was to provide a sight and sound screen for our front yard. It’ll be years before it matures enough to provide either of these functions. In the meantime, I’ve grown to hate mowing around all those trees and shrubs!
     When I first started this project four years ago, I intended to widen the mulched area around each plant as it grew, until the entire area was grass-free and neatly mulched. There are over thirty plants. That’s a lot of digging out every year. So I tried suffocating the grass with pool liner left over from the waterfall. I don’t have enough of this heavy plastic to cover the entire area. It had to be moved periodically and the grass underneath has proved surprisingly resilient. All this was taking too long, and this spring we had a windstorm that wrapped the heavy plastic around my Weeping Alaskan Cedar and nearly tore it out of the ground. I gave up and used a herbicide. That left me with an expanse of dead grass begging for mulch, or something.
     The something will be strawberries and cinquefoil, with, just maybe, some sweet potato vines. When I was putting the plants from Wildtype out this morning, it looked to me like I’d have enough to extend the ground cover right down to the road and eliminate the need to mow the drainage ditch bank! While I’m at it, I think I’ll take the south edge of the garden right up to the driveway and get rid of another area that’s awkward to mow. Then there’s that oh-so-esthetically pleasing curve in the north west corner. Too much trouble to mow; it’s soon to be history.
     Okay, I’m getting a little carried away. But I really do find this exciting.
     I want to remove the daffodils from between the evergreens and the ditch. My spouse remarked that we can hardly see them from the house now that the shrubs are getting larger. I’ll relocate them along the garden’s western edge as a grass inhibitor. That’ll be a bright line of color come spring. I’ll try not to dwell on the fact that there are probably a thousand or more bulbs out there lying in wait.

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