Can English Ivy Be Grown as Ground Cover?

Can English Ivy Be Grown as Ground Cover?

English Ivy, scientifically known as Hedera helix, is a versatile plant known for its fast-growing, trailing vines that can also be grown as ground cover. It’s an excellent choice for those unsightly bare spots in your landscape or when you need a reliable erosion controller. This article will explore everything you need to know about using English Ivy as ground cover.

Recognizing the Role of English Ivy

Originally found in Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa, English Ivy has made its way around the globe thanks to its adaptability and ornamental appeal. With its lush, trailing vines and evergreen leaves, it’s a staple in many gardens. There are several varieties of English Ivy, such as ‘Glacier’, ‘Goldheart’, and ‘Ivalace’, each offering distinct leaf shapes and color patterns. It’s great for covering walls, fences, and even the ground because to its climbing abilities and thick growth pattern. 

English Ivy climbing on the side of a stone building along a stone sidewalk.

Photo by Pixabay

Benefits to Growing English Ivy on the Ground

Appealing to the Eye

The thick, green leaves of the English ivy plant make for a lovely ground cover that also gives textural variety in the yard. The carpet-like effect created by its dense mat of foliage makes it a popular choice for improving the attractiveness of outdoor areas.

Preventing Erosion

The ability of English ivy to reduce soil erosion is a major perk of utilizing it as a ground cover. Because of its deep root system, it helps stabilize soil and prevents runoff on slopes. This makes it a great option for preventing soil erosion and stabilizing slopes.

Controlling Weeds

Weeds can be kept in check by the rapid growth and dense leaves of English ivy. By spreading out into a thick mat, it blocks the sun and prevents weed seeds from sprouting and growing. With this method, you can spend less time and energy on weeding and less on using chemical herbicides in your garden.

Requires Little Maintenance

English ivy is an excellent choice for individuals who want a low-care ground cover. It’s low maintenance after it’s established. It can grow in a variety of climes because of its drought resistance and adaptability to different soil types. The only regular upkeep necessary is some light trimming to keep it under control.


The uses of English ivy go beyond that of a simple ground cover. You can use it to give your garden some height by training it to climb walls, fences, and trellises. Because of its versatility, it may be used in both bright and dim settings. English ivy can be used for a variety of landscaping purposes, including ground cover, privacy screening, and accenting otherwise bare walls.

Top-down view of a thick carpet of English Ivy used as ground cover.

Photo by Markus Winkler

Common Challenges and Solutions

English Ivy is generally low-maintenance.  However, there are a few considerations when using it as a ground cover:

  • Invasiveness: English Ivy has a tendency to spread rapidly and aggressively. Without regular maintenance and pruning, it can overrun your garden and potentially invade nearby natural areas. It’s vital to keep its growth in check and avoid planting it near natural woodlands where it could escape.
  • Climbing Habit: While it works well as a ground cover, remember that English Ivy is a natural climber. It can cling to and climb up trees, walls, and fences. Therefore, it’s important to monitor its growth and direct it away from areas where you don’t want it to climb.
  • Potential for Damage: English Ivy’s clinging aerial roots can potentially damage surfaces over time, especially on buildings and wooden structures. If you’re planning to use it as a ground cover near buildings or wooden fences, regular maintenance is crucial to prevent any potential damage.
Wild English Ivy climbing up the side of a house from the yard.

Photo by Dilan Kusanç

Can English Ivy Be Grown as Ground Cover?

Yes, English Ivy can indeed be grown as a ground cover. It’s an excellent option for those looking to add a touch of lush greenery to their garden or landscape without demanding a significant amount of care. English Ivy’s fast growth rate, evergreen nature, and adaptability to various light and soil conditions make it a versatile ground cover choice.

Choosing a Location

If you want to use English Ivy as ground cover, you should do it in a location that receives partial to full shade. It can take some sunlight, but too much will cause the leaves to burn. Root rot is caused by too much water, so it’s important to make sure the soil drains adequately.

Preparing the Soil

Get rid of any weeds or other vegetation that could be in the soil first. Soil with a pH between 6 and 7 is ideal for growing English ivy. Soil fertility and drainage can be enhanced by adding organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure.


Create planting spaces just slightly larger in diameter than the root balls of your English ivy. Plants should be set into holes such that the top of the root ball is flush with the surrounding dirt. Leave 12–18 inches of space between each plant to accommodate its eventual spread. Firm the earth around the roots as you fill the holes back up.

Adding Mulch and Watering

To help the earth settle and the roots get established, give the newly planted English ivy a good soaking of water. After that, make sure the soil is consistently moist by watering it frequently, especially during dry spells. Mulching the plants with organic material like wood chips or straw can prevent water from evaporating and weeds from sprouting.

Maintenance and Trimming

Regular trimming of English ivy is necessary to prevent it from taking over an area. Remove any trailing or straggly growth to keep the appropriate size and form. To maintain the plants’ health and beauty, it is necessary to periodically prune away any diseased or damaged leaves.


The many benefits of growing English ivy as a ground cover include its aesthetic value, ability to prevent erosion, suppression of weeds, low maintenance needs, and adaptability. Successfully incorporating this gorgeous and hardy plant into your outdoor space is possible with the right planting and maintenance practices, resulting in a lush and colorful ground cover that will improve the aesthetic of your garden. You can continue reading more about English Ivy here.

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