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Planting edible ground covers

Ground covers you can eat look nice and taste good

Like most people, I have bare space or thinning grass underneath a few of my trees. No matter how hard I try to get the grass to fill in, it doesn’t work. But another option is an edible ground cover. You make use of the space and sneak in something good to eat at the same time.

Charlie Nardozzi is a national garden consultant and coach. He says what you plant will depend on soil conditions and the amount of sunlight that reaches the area. Blueberries, lingonberries, and cranberries will thrive in acidic soil under full sun. If the spot is partly shady, herbs will do well, especially mints.

"Peppermint, spearmint, English mints, and they like a more neutral pH soil so they’ll be very adaptable to all kinds of trees and shrubs," says Nardozzi. "They will of course spread. If you want something a little more tame, you can always do creeping thymes or creeping oreganos. And all of these are great additions underneath a tree or shrub because you can just harvest them as you like, and they will continue to stay green all season long."

Slopes can be another frustrating part of the yard, but Nardozzi says a culinary cover crop will work there, too.

"If you’re in a warmer climate, some of the creeping rosemarys for example, the prostrate rosemarys that will spread down and turn into a nice little shrub," says Nardozzi. "That could be a nice addition to a slopey area that you don’t want to mow, and you just want to turn it into something that looks attractive, but doesn’t have a lot of maintenance to it. So a plant like that, for example, might do really well there, and you could of course use the clippings of the rosemary for cooking."

Alpine strawberries, creeping Oregon grape, and even sweet potatoes are options. Try different lettuces, kale, and swiss chard for edging.  If possible don’t limit yourself to just one variety of plant, experiment with several tasty ground covers. The aggressive growers might do battle with each other, but they’ll quickly fill in a bare spot.

Here's more advice from Charlie for eating from the ground up

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