Willow Oaks Over Bermuda Grass

Q: When our neighborhood was built fifteen years ago, the developer lined the streets with willow oaks and planted bermuda grass. The tree canopy has enlarged to create more shade, so the bermuda is not doing well. We are hoping to find something to grow in the shade of the trees. 

A: I think purple wintercreeper, Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’ is the perfect plant for you. It tolerates deep shade and full sunshine. After planting, it spreads quickly. When established it needs hardly any watering. I have been watching a planting of wintercreeper in the hellstrip between sidewalk and street near my house for three years. It is purple most of the year but turns green when it’s really hot. After severe cold like last winter, all the leaves turned brown, leaving a tangle of stems. But the stems were perfectly hardy and quickly sprouted new leaves. Technically it is listed as invasive because clambers up and over small shrubs and perennials but your trees will have no problem. Trim it off the base of trees once a year. It looks best when cut twice yearly at 6″-10″ high.

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