April Snow #2

I believe Mark Twain said it best, “In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside four and twenty hours.”  This may seem like an odd Spring thus far, but I believe it’s as close to normal as anything the Midwest has to offer.

Burgeoning Plants

Certainly, the vacillating weather has put a bit of a damper (no pun intended) on gardening plans, but weather forecasts have us climbing back to normal by mid-week.  As we wait for Mother Nature to fire the starting gun, it’s given us a chance to inspect our burgeoning lawns and plants.

Lawn Issues in Shade

I’ve heard quite a few people complain about the state of their lawns under trees and/or in particularly shady areas.  This is a common battle with no easy answers.  In some instances, moss has even started to invade the lawn.  It can be common in shady areas, but usually, there’s other contributing factors, like compacted and poorly drained soil, poor air circulation, high or low soil pH and little to no fertilizations.  Generally, moss is a tough thing to deal with and may call for a soil test to determine the exact cause and remedy, but is there an alternative?  Could we possibly grow something other than turf grass in these problem areas?  The answer is yes!

Dry, Shaded Areas:

Pachysandra 

Pachysandra

An evergreen with glossy foliage and tiny white flowers that bloom in April.  Grows about 6-12″ and 12″ wide.

Lamium 

Lamium

Silver, variegated leaves with clusters of pink, purple or white flowers that bloom May – July.  Grows 6-9″ tall and 2-3′ wide.  Foliage remains green through December.

Epimedium 

Epimedium

Heart-shaped foliage that turns red in Fall.  Small red or yellow flowers bloom in May.  Grows 12-14″ tall and 18″ wide.  Can be a bit of a slow grower.

Lily of the Valley 

Lily of the Valley

Attractive white, bell-shaped flowers with an ethereal scent.  Rapid spreader that grows 6″ tall.

Wet, Shaded Areas:

Sweet Woodruff 

Sweet Woodruff

Delicate, fragrant foliage that grows in a low mat with dainty, white, fragrant flowers that bloom in late Spring.  Grows 8-12″ tall and 12-18″ wide.

Wild Ginger 

Wild Ginger

Glossy, heart-shaped foliage with purple cup-shaped flowers that bloom in April.  Grows 6-12″ tall and 12-18″ wide.

Wild Geranium 

Wild Geranium

Typical geranium foliage with loose clusters of flowers that bloom in early spring.  Grows 18-24″ tall and 12-18″ wide.

Until these groundcovers are well established, some maintenance will be required.  At least for the first year, plants should be mulched and watered periodically.  Weeding may also be needed, but it beats the frustration and cost in trying to grow grass where grass simply doesn’t want to grow.  Of course, mulch is always a great solution as well, particularly under large trees.  Contact Sweeney’s today for the solution to all your shady woes.


Plant of the Week:

Blue Moon Woodland Phlox

Phlox Blue MoonPhlox Blue Moon #2

Fine green foliage with deep violet, fragrant flowers that bloom from early Spring to late Summer.  Leaves turn burgundy in Winter.  Grows 12-18″ high and 8-12″ wide.  Prefers shade and moist, well-drained soil.

“Grass is the cheapest plant to install and the most expensive to maintain.”

-Pat Howell

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney