Climbing plants for ground cover

Whilst climbing plants are normally used to cover vertical spaces, many are adapt as ground cover too. The scrambling and rambling tendencies that allow them to climb also help create a thick, spreading carpet at ground level, particularly along uneven surfaces and in situations where obstacles have to be navigated, such as tree stumps, fallen trees left to naturalise or half fallen fencing. Ivy has long been used to quickly and affordably clothe steep banks, but certain honeysuckles and even climbing roses can work just as well, delivering the added bonus of scented flowers through the summer. Just keep in mind that there are two types of climbing plants – twining and self-clinging varieties. Self-clinging varieties are those which naturally adhere to the growing surface via aerial roots or adhesive pads, whereas twining climbers grow by wrapping themselves around poles, wires or trellis. So, if you choose a twining climber like lonicera for ground cover, you’ll need to make sure it has a support structure, such as wire fencing laid flat across the ground, to spread effectively. You can even train them over both planes: first across the ground and then up a vertical surface, a particularly useful trick for softening the angles in smaller gardens.

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