When it comes to mulch, green is the new brown. Instead of spreading bark, peat or straw over planting beds, consider planting a living mulch that will spread itself over bare soil, keeping it cool and moist, while also adding a lushness that is more attractive than conventional alternatives.
Some prominent landscape professionals are embracing the idea, saying real plants are more attractive and better for the environment.
Green mulch was a hot topic at Pacific Horticulture’s Changing Times, Changing Gardens summit in Santa Rosa, California, last fall. Thomas Rainer, a landscape architect in Washington, D.C., who designed projects for the U.S. Capitol grounds, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the New York Botanical Garden, devoted his keynote address to the concept.
Rainer advocates creating a meadow that carpets the lower several inches of your entire landscape, while an arrangement of larger, discrete shrubs, trees or large, stout perennials, flourish above. Good bottom story plants in this region include anything from California poppies and society garlic to bleeding heart, snowberry and redwood sorrel.
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