One of the more frustrating things a gardener faces is the proliferation of weeds that manage to grow under shrubs. That weeds will grow even in such shade shows how formidable they are. Moreover, they defeat the purpose of a beautiful and well-tended shrub by creating an area of chaotic ugliness beneath it. Weeds also rob the shrub of water and nutrients. Besides simply tearing the weeds out, the best way to make sure they don't return is to plant a more pleasing and desirable plant in their place. Here are a few vines that will not only control the weeds but actually complement the shrub above it:
Vinca minor, or periwinkle, is a spreading evergreen vine/ground cover. A fast grower, its carpet of leaves and lilac-blue flowers will quickly overwhelm the weeds. The flowers appear in spring and bloom throughout the summer.
Periwinkle prefers soil that is well-drained and moist and thrives where the soil is amended with rotted manure or compost. An excellent plant for hardiness zones 3 through 9, it will need the shade of a shrub in the warmer climates.
English ivy is also ideal to plant in the shade of a shrub. It produces a mat of evergreen leaves, and its roots, which run deep, help prevent erosion. It also gives the area around it an aristocratic look, identified as it is with great old schools and mansions. Ivy does best in rich soil amended with organic matter, and pruning helps keep its growth compact.
The trumpet creeper vine not only has showy, trumpet-shaped flowers in colors of red, orange, reddish orange, gold and buttery yellow, but also attracts bees, birds and butterflies to the garden. Hummingbirds are especially partial to it. It prefers soil that's mildly acidic to mildly alkaline. This beautiful vine does best in hardiness zones 4a to 10b.
The hardy and fast growing Virginia creeper puts people in mind of poison ivy, but it's perfectly safe to handle. It can be told from the noxious weed because it has five instead of three leaves, and its leaves are toothed. It will grow in nearly any soil condition and benefits from pruning and tying up. In late spring, the plant bears small, greenish-white flowers, and in the fall, the glossy green leaves turn brilliant red. Birds and other animals are attracted to its purplish black berries.