LOW MAINTENCE GROUND COVER

Asked July 27, 2014, 5:34 PM EDT

I HAVE A HOUSE AND 4 ACRES IN BUCKINGHAM CO. TWO QUESTIONS.

1. WHAT CAN I PLANT ONCE THAT HAS LOW MAINTENCE AND PROVIDES FOOD FOR WILD GAME?

2. WHAT CAN I PLANT AROUND THE HOUSE ONCE THAT WILL BE A PERMANENT GROUND COVER WHICH I DON'T HAVE TO MOW?

Aiken County South Carolina sustainable gardening and landscaping groundcovers wildlife forages

3 Responses

Hi,
What a great idea!
While you didn't mention whether the area around your home is shady or sunny. This publication from Clemson lists groundcovers for both conditions. If you have specific questions, contact your local Extension office to discuss options. Lirope sp. need mowing 1-2 x per year and do well under varied conditions. Use Google Images to look at options in the publication and photos of Liriope http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/landscape/groundcovers/hgic1100.html

You are in South Carolina, so native warm season grasses would provide cover and food sources for wild game. These websites provides information on establishing native warm season grasses for forage in SC. http://www.nwtf.org/conservation/land_management_tips.html?id=13107
http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs144p2_021520.pdf
Any planting should be preceded by a soil test to establish an acceptable pH and organic soil content. You may need to kill off existing vegetation and amend the soil with organic matter (compost) first. Again, keep in touch with your local Extension office for more assistance - http://www.clemson.edu/extension/county/aiken/

Thank-you so much for answering my question! Bou I forgot to tell you that my property is in central VA and gets full sun. Does this change your response?.

Hi,
Thanks for the follow up. I started to put Virginia information in the reply, but then noticed the tags. Here is the info for Virginia, as the zone is a bit different. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries actually has a great site on establishing grassland habitat on small and large acreage. There are native warm season grass suppliers listed on that site also. I would still recommend a combination of switchgrass, little bluestem and Indian grass for habitat, but if you are interested in quail specifically, check out the Virginia site below. The timing for seeding is different for VA and SC. NWSG should be planted from May 1 through June 30 in Virginia. Please note that VDGIF has equipment to loan for homeowners wishing to establish these grasslands.
http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/habitat/wild-in-the-woods/grow-a-native-grass-meadow.pdf
http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/quail/nwsg.asp
Quail - there may be WHIP funds for establishment of habitat for quail - you would need to check with NRCS. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/va/programs/?cid=nrcs142p2_018833

from online document: "Several Farm Bill programs, managed through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provide cost-share incentives to farmers to manage their lands for quail and other wildlife. The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) offers two programs, CP-33 (Quail Habitat) and CP-36 (Longleaf Pine) that feature habitat for quail. During 2007, 198 contracts were approved to enhance 1,450 acres of farmland for quail. Sixteen contracts were approved to manage nearly 300 acres of longleaf pine stands that ultimately benefit quail."

As far as the groundcover for full sun that is low maintenance, I would still consider Liriope , although you will hear disparaging remarks, it remains one of the easiest to grow and needs minimal maintenance. When it is thick, voles can hide under it, and eat the plants. Every choice certainly has plusses and minuses. This resource is excellent for selection of Virginia plants for conservation and landscaping. There is a section on groundcovers that you can peruse and check out on Google images. http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/nativeplants.shtml

Thanks for following up, so that I could help you better.