There are many ways of trying to control weeds. We can remove them by hoeing them out or by burning them with a flame gun. We can try to prevent them growing by putting down mulches. Each of these methods have their advantages and disadvantages and each has situations where they are applicable. In this leaflet we will look at another method of controlling weeds – by growing carefully selected plants that can spread to cover the ground and that will out-compete the weeds.
Like other forms of weed control, ground cover has its advantages and disadvantages. Its primary advantages include:
- By covering the ground with a carpet of vegetation it prevents the germination of weed seeds.
- When established, it prevents the ingress of perennial weeds.
- It protects the soil from erosion and water loss. This can be particularly useful on steep slopes.
- It acts as an insulating cover for the soil, keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
- It is a living mulch that helps to build up humus levels in the soil.
- It provides habitats and cover for beneficial insects and other predators.
- It can be very attractive.
- It can provide us with various other commodities – food, medicines etc.
The disadvantages include:
- It can provide a habitat for slugs, snails and other pests. This is to a large extent mitigated by the beneficial creatures it also encourages, but it is best not to grow slug-susceptible plants in a ground cover if you normally have a problem with slugs.
- It can compete with other plants for food and water.
- If the ground cover is too vigorous it can overrun the plants you want to grow.
Printed with permission from, Ground cover plants – out-compete the weeds Printed on website PFAF