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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - June 08, 2015

From: Sterling, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Groundcovers
Title: Groundcovers to choke out invasive species in Virginia
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

My yard has open woods and dappled light with clay soil. Thirty years ago we removed huge briars and since English Ivy was getting in by itself, we thought we would let it come; unfortunately, it not only choked the trees but failed to choke back weeds. We have fought a successful battle with it in the past few years by mowing and pulling, but our yard backs up to public open space that is unmaintained. English Ivy is invading from the public space and garlic mustard began cropping up last year. Can you recommend a few ground-covering plants that are native to the Virginia Piedmont and will choke out the invasives?

ANSWER:

We're afraid no native, shade-loving groundcovers will choke out English Ivy (Hedera helix) or Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata).  Determined, prolonged effort to remove the offending species from your land plus gaining the cooperation of your neighbors to make similar efforts on their land is really the only long-term solution.

 

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