If your yard or garden is too shady for grass or you'd like to create a more formal atmosphere, consider creating an ivy ground cover. An evergreen vine suitable for shady locations, ivy grows well under trees and beside buildings. Follow these necessary steps for successfully creating an ivy ground cover.
Ivy is a hardy vine that can be grown in different types of environments, but it prefers some shade. Planting the vine in full sun will cause the leaves to burn, and the plant will not grow healthily. Be aware that ivy is a fast-growing vine that can be somewhat invasive. If you're using it as a ground cover in a garden, you'll need to keep an eye on it, as it could crowd out other plants. If you plant ivy next to a tree, wall or fence, it will undoubtedly climb the surface. Though it looks beautiful, ivy can cause structural damage to older buildings if it isn't controlled.
Before planting your ivy, you'll need to prepare their planting location. This chore is best done in spring after the ground has softened. Though ivy is hardy and grows in a wide range of condition, it will get off to a better start if you spend a little time preparing the ground. Use a heavy rake to break up the soil in the bed where the ivy will be planted, or perform a light tilling. If your soil is of especially poor quality, you may want to amend it with compost, manure or organic fertilizer. If you're planting ivy underneath a tree, try not to work the soil any deeper than two inches so you don't disturb the tree's root system.
When you purchase ivy for planting at a nursery or home improvement store, it is usually available in convenient, multi-compartmental packages that look similar to egg crates. These bundles of small individual ivy plants are called "plugs." Though you'll likely find decorative ivy in pots at the nursery as well, it's best to purchase plugs. Purchase enough for your area so that you'll be able to plant them all an even 18 inches apart. If you have a large bed, you may need to buy several flats of plugs. Plant each plug in the soil, gently tamping the dirt around the root balls. To ensure the most even growth pattern, it's important to stagger your ivy plugs. After planting one row, stagger the next row so that the ivy plantings resemble a checkerboard.
Ivy used as a ground cover is a relatively low maintenance plant. After you plant the plugs, water them thoroughly, and continue to keep the soil evenly moist until they fill out the area. This will help the plants establish a strong root system. If your ivy gets out of hand, it is best pruned in early spring or all, though it doesn't mind being snipped in any season. Watch your ivy to make sure it doesn't crowd out other plants.