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Garden Obstacles: Alternatives to Invasive Ground Covers

I would like to rant a bit first...New York State has a 'Do Not Sell' and a 'Management' list of invasive plants. You would never know this by going to a your local 'garden center' or big box store like The Home Depot, as they all still carry 'managed' invasive ground covers like Creeping Jenny, English Ivy, Pachysandra and Vinca. Explain to me how it's 'managed' when every garden center on Long Island still sells them? Even more absurd to me is how are they are still selling Bishop's Weed aka Goutweed when it is on the 'Do Not Sell' list. My last bit, if you go to a garden center and they have a native plant section but you have to walk by the invasive plants to get to them, question the motives of that garden center.


Now that I have that off my chest, let's talk about alternative native ground covers to use instead of the invasive varieties.


Please do not use the following ground covers:

Bishop's Weed aka Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria)

Bugleweed (Ajuga species and cultivars)

Chameleon Plant (Houttuynia cordata) - how is this not on either list for NYS?

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia and cultivars)

Spotted Dead-nettle (Lamium maculatum and cultivars)

Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum gaeobdolon and cultivars)


Instead of planting following evergreen invasive ground covers:

  • Creeping Euonymus (Euonymus fortunei)

  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)

  • Lily-turf (Liriope spicata, Liriope muscari and cultivars)

  • Pachysandra aka Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis and cultivars)

  • Periwinkle/Myrtle (Vinca minor, Vinca major and cultivars)


Plant these native semi-evergreen and evergreen ground covers instead:

  • Carex albicans (White-tinged Sedge): May 'bloom', 12-18" tall, semi-evergreen, sun to shade, average-moist soil, drought tolerant, deer resistant, North American native including Long Island.

  • Carex grayi (Mace Sedge): May through October 'bloom, attractive star-shaped seed heads persist through November, sun to partial shade, 24-30" tall with a spread of 24", semi-evergreen, moist to wet soil, tolerates some drought, great for a rain garden, deer and rabbit resistant, tolerant of Black Walnut trees (juglone), native to Eastern North America including Long Island.

  • Carex stricta (Tussock Sedge): June 'bloom', 12-36" tall, evergreen, sun to partial shade, medium-wet soil, deer resistant, good for erosion control due to its aggressive habit, great cut and dried 'flower', great in a planter, attracts birds and butterflies, Central US native including Long Island.

  • Chrysogonum virginianum 'Allen Bush' (Golden Star aka Green & Gold): bright, golden yellow flowers May though October, 3-6" tall plants and a 12" spread, semi-evergreen, partial shade to full shade, average but well drained soil, tolerates clay soil, deer resistant, native to the Southeastern United States.

  • Chrysogonum virginianum var australe (Golden Star aka Green & Gold): bright, golden yellow flowers in May through June on 6" tall plants with a spread of 12", semi-evergreen, partial to full shade, average but rich, well-drained soil, deer resistant, native to the Southeastern United States.

  • Fragaria virginiana (Wild Strawberry): white flowers in May, sweet red berries June, 4-6" tall, dry-average but well drained soil, sun to partial shade, spreads by runners, host to Gray Hairstreak butterfly, native to Eastern North America including Long Island. Noteworthy cultivars: Fragaria virginiana 'Intensity' has larger berries and is considered an 'ever bearer' as it fruits June-September and Fragaria virginiana 'Port Huron' has larger leaves than the species.

  • Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen): small, bell-shaped flowers in June through July followed by edible red fruit, 3-6" tall with a spread of 24-36", evergreen, partial shade to full shade, dry to moist but well drained soil, slow spreading ground cover, Eastern North America including Long Island.

  • Geum fragarioides (Barren Strawberry): yellow flowers in April through May, 4-6" tall with a spread of 1