Growing Crown Vetch
Crown vetch is a ground cover plant that is excellent at slowing or stopping soil erosion. It is also remarkably easy to grow from seed.
Step 1 – Decide where you want to grow crown vetch
Crown vetch is invasive and self seeding so you should not plant it in a garden with other plants. It is best to choose a site that needs plant cover to protect it.
Step 2 – Prepare the soil
Crown vetch seed can be scattered without any soil preparation. They will grow equally well if scattered on bare soil or on soil with some plant growth already.
Step 3 – Seed density
For most sowings you should use half to three quarters of a pound of seed per 1,000 linear feet, broadcasting the seed by hand or seed spreader.
Step 4 – Germination
Encourage germination by watering occasionally and then continue for about a month after the shoots show through.
Step 5 – Drought
Once established, the vetch requires little maintenance. The plant is drought tolerant but you might prefer to water new plants occasionally after the first month.
Step 6 – Trimming
Crown vetch is liable to form clumps that rise above the general level of the plant layer. Prevent this by regularly trimming the vetch with a lawn mower with the cutters set at 6 inches above ground level.
Step 7 – Over-all effect
A good ground cover of crown vetch will produce a carpet of feathery foliage and a wealth of pink and purple flowers from late spring to early autumn will improve the appearance of any area.
Step 8 – Winter
Crown vetch is not a hardy plant and dies back when hit by frost. When this happens mow the vetch almost to ground level to get rid of all the dead vegetation. The vetch will grow again in spring.
Step 9 – Better distribution
If you want to thin out some areas because the vetch is bunched together you can try to transplant some of the dormant crowns. Dig the crowns up with as much of the root system as possible and plant them where you want them to grow. Transplanted crowns aren’t as successful as seeds but water those that start growing in the spring for the first month.
An area covered with crown vetch that is trimmed regularly is a very pleasant sight and will help reduce erosion significantly.