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Ground cover defined

Award-winning website offers information     Send a link to a friend

[MARCH 20, 2004]  URBANA -- Information that was assembled by University of Illinois Extension and won top honors at this year's Chicago Flower and Garden Show is now available on the Web. "From the Ground Up" was named the best horticultural education exhibit at the Navy Pier show, which continues to March 21, said Jane Scherer, U of I Extension urban programs specialist.

"You can access the information in the exhibit from your own home by visiting Extension's urban programs website, http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu, and going to the 'Hort Corner' section and selecting 'From the Ground Up,'" she said. The direct address is http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/groundcovers/.

The site will be helpful to home gardeners who are planning their 2004 gardens and considering ground cover plants to augment the landscape.

"Ground covers can be anything from a couple of inches tall to 3 or 4 feet," said Greg Stack, U of I Extension horticulture educator based in Matteson, who developed the new site. "If a plant has the capability of providing cover over the soil and prevents weed growth and erosion, it's a ground cover."

"From the Ground Up" is divided into sections dealing with general information about ground covers, the care and maintenance of the plants, tips for the home gardener, and a directory of ground cover plants.

Scherer noted that the site includes plants that may not often been considered for ground cover but are quite effective in accenting gardens.


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"Gardeners can use ground covers for problem areas and to unify divergent components of the landscape. They can be used as traffic barriers, visual guides and to define space," she said.

"Ground covers are not the 'bottom feeders' of the landscape. They add interest and bring unity to the garden, making them the unsung heroes among the more horticulturally prominent members of the garden," Stack added.

The site also includes a chart that can be used to determine how many plants will be needed based on the square footage of the garden area.

Stack pointed out that the ground cover categories include some unusual members.

"Moss can be considered a ground cover," he said. "While heavy, dense shade is often considered a curse, it is a blessing when it comes to moss. The color and texture of moss can add great interest to a home garden, and it is virtually maintenance-free."

[University of Illinois news release]

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