Ornamental ground cover

Asked January 26, 2020, 1:54 PM EST

Last spring, virtually all of my ground cover, ivy, creeping mazus, mondo grass and even my indestructible Bishop's Weed died. Only the moss remains. I intend to replant but, perhaps, I should first have the soil analysed. Any thoughts?

Baltimore County Maryland

2 Responses

We're sorry to hear you lost so many different plants. Were there any changes in the planting site over the last year or so? Does water tend to accumulate in the area when it rains? In 2018 when we had an unusually high amount of rainfall in Maryland, many plants suffered from saturation and lack of oxygen to the roots. If you are only seeing moss, perhaps that area is staying too wet for other plants to grow well? Then in 2019, we had a drought, which also was tough on many plants that may have had root damage from 2018. Also, were the plants near a walkway or driveway where they may have been exposed to salt damage?

A basic soil test will give you information about acidity (pH), nutrient content, and organic matter. In general, it is good to test your soil every three years. We have information on our website about how to do a soil test and where to submit your sample. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing

I would not recommend English ivy or bishop's weed as replacements, given their invasive nature. If the site conditions have become more moist and shady, you might need to consider other options like ferns or other types of groundcovers. There are a few choices on this list, https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/groundcover-list.


The site has not changed at all. Water does not accumulate in most area of the garden. There is no possibility of salt damage.

I will get around to a soil sample soon.

I liked the English ivy and Bishop's Weed especially due to their invasive nature. I like hardy plants. Before dying, they were well controlled and quite pretty. However, I did discover that Bishop's Weed does not like highly humid conditions. The lush growth in the Spring was often reduced to brown leaves by the end of the summer.