Ground Cover Basics

Ground Cover Basics

When it comes to gardens, an important element of the foundation, is what's literally underneath your feet - ground cover including soil, grass, bark, chippings and stone. We've asked landscaping supplies specialists to give us practical advice on buying these very important basics.

Let's start with top soil - what should buyers be looking for?
The short answer is the quality of the soil. Essentially, there's two main types of top soil - screened and unscreened. Screened top soil has been sieved to remove stones and rocks and will naturally cost more. Also check that the soil is not sticky - it should be crumbly.

How much will I need to buy?
As a rule of thumb, you'll need at least a couple of inches of topsoil for lawn, and more for flower beds.

How about the lawn - should I grow it myself or buy lawn turf?
That's really a question of budget and timing. Roll-out lawn turf can be laid at any time of the year and is every bit as durable as grass grown from seed on site. Just remember, that there is some initial maintenance that needs to be attended to. Firstly, check that the turf is freshly cut. At Landscape Depot we cut our lawn turf on site daily as that makes a big difference. Next, make sure that it's well watered for the first few weeks and don't allow anyone to walk on it. Finally, when you're mowing it, start with the mower on the highest possible setting and gradually lower the setting when the lawn is established.

I want to save myself some weeding - I've heard that ground cover helps?
Yes, there are two main options here - compost mulch and mini-chip. Compost mulch is made from recycled grass cuttings, hedge cuttings etc. so it's a very green option. It acts as a weed suppressant and it also enriches the soil. It will also form a sort of film over time, which makes it suitable for windy areas. Mini-chip or bark will also suppress weeds but it won't enrich the soil substantially. However, many people prefer the appearance of mini chip.

How much ground cover will I need to buy?
We recommend that ground cover is spread a couple of inches in depth. To cover 15 square meters of garden to that depth, you'll need 1 cubic meter of ground cover. That's about 2 full baths of ground cover.

What else is new in the garden?
Railway sleepers are always popular for raised beds, retaining walls and pathways. The traditional railway sleepers are heavy. However, there's now new pressure treated sleepers which are lighter and easier to handle. would like to thank for their helpful advice and tips for this article.

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John Hourigan

Landscape Providers