Advice needed: Looking for a hardy ground cover
We are looking to plant something on a gravelly, south facing strip of yard we have in Fairbanks. We'd prefer to plant something with a short habit so we wouldn't have to mow much.
I have read and heard that creeping or woolly thyme does well. But would love to hear if anyone has any experience with this or another ground cover.
The most hardy, maintenance-free ground cover that I know of isn't short in stature; it's brome/broam hay.
While it will, indeed, get tall, live-stock or a mower makes short work of it. And it's a great addition to the compost heap, if you're not otherwise using it..
Glancing through various northern publications lately will reveal that even broam/brome hay is selling for a fair price these days, despite it being on the lower end of the 'quality feed' hay spectrum.
The advantages include that, like cactus in a desert, it's difficult to kill; let it dry out, ignore it, poison it, etc., and it still stands there, waiting to see what you can throw at it next.
The disadvantages include that if you mow it with any intention of enjoying that part of your yard, it's as though the fuller brush man has booby-trapped your lawn with inverted brushes and their accompanying 'stubble,' that are INCREDIBLY uncomfortable to walk on barefoot.... And, as stated above under 'advantages,' when you've tired of it, it's the dandelion of grasses; you almost CAN'T kill the stuff. Repeated tillings, or having a dozer scrape the top 4-6" of material are the best bets where eradicating broam/brome is the objective.
But if you have goats, horses, or cattle, kids who enjoy hiding in tall grasses in making their 'forts,' or just want a die-hard plant for an organic ground-covering to prevent erosion, etc., brome/broam hay may be your ticket.
If you want something that grows 'short' or close to the ground, though, then keep lookin'.