English ivy is a popular choice for ground cover. The plants are well suited to shade and poor conditions. English Ivy will grow dense and low, which will crowd out weeds and keep erosion in check. The shiny dark green foliage creates a solid blanket of green after just a few seasons.
Where to Plant Ivy
Plant English ivy under trees where many plants cannot grow.
Shady areas are best, but English Ivy will also survive in partial shade. Direct sun can burn the leaves, causing them to turn a reddish color.
Well-drained alkaline soil is the preference of English ivy. Moist, with a mixture of organic compound, will produce the healthiest batch of English ivy.
Streets and sidewalks in the north often get hit with salt spray. English ivy is salt tolerant and can be used as a ground cover near the street or sidewalk, surviving where other plants cannot.
Small plants from the garden center should be planted in the spring. They need a full season to develop their roots and start to establish themselves before winter sets in.
Plant when the sun is hidden by clouds or in the early evening to protect plants from direct sun. English ivy is susceptible to shock from transplanting. Treating them with care is important.
Create a weed-free plot and loosened soil with a rototiller or your shovel. Digging down at least 12 inches will give the ivy the best chance.
Place the English ivy in a hole that is wider and deeper than the root ball, 3 to 4 inches deep is the general rule. Remove the bottom 2 to 4 leaves before planting to promote new growth.
Space the English ivy 6 to 12 inches apart, and in two years a thick ground cover will be formed.
Trimming the English ivy back in the spring keeps the area manageable. Ivy will keep growing and will not be harmed by a sharp cutting back.
Spray with horticultural oil and insecticidal soap to help control mites.
Add a mixture of seaweed, compost tea, and soil microbes from the garden center to keep the English ivy healthy.