Recommendation for ground cover for mostly shady, moist soil

ostrich(3a AB)July 1, 2014

I have a moist area at the far end of my backyard that faces north and is next to a fence. The area is moist because my yard slopes down gently from my house to the fence. This area is behind some shrubs like Invincible Hydrangeas, as well as trees like Bakeri spruce and Mountain Pine.

Right now, this area is a magnet for weeds and I am so sick of pulling them out from this area! I am hoping that if I grow some ground cover there, it would choke out or even stop the weeds from getting there.

Since this is a mostly shaded and rather moist area, what ground cover would grow there in my zone 3 yard? So far, I have considered the following:

1. Lamium Golden Anniversary - I love lamium but doesn't it dislike wet soil?

2. Sweet Woodruff - I love this thing! I saw this in the Botanical Garden in St. John's, NL, and I fell in love with it. The leaves are gorgeous and the dainty white flowers are just charming. Would this do well in this area?

What else would you recommend for this area please? I am hoping that it will be something that will cover up this area fairly quickly, without being too aggressive.

Thanks in advance!

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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Yes! When I read the title I was thinking sweet woodruff. Love that stuff. Primulas are nice too. They bloom early and the leaves look nice all summer. Primula cortusoides spreads slowly to fill a space in my yard. You might also consider lamium but it's invasive.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2014 at 11:49PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

Thanks, northspruce, for your fast response!

I love my lamium in my part shade area, but yes, it is trying to EAT UP that area right now! However, I read somewhere that it does not tolerate wet soil, esp. over winter. Isn't that true?

Anyway, I am also reading about golden creeping jenny and perinwinkle. I do want something that spreads quite fast. What do you think of those in this area?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 12:02AM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

I have a ton of nepetia growing all over my yard and especially in the north west corner of my front bed where it gets very little sun. I never have to mow it and it only gets about 3-4 inches. Grows like wild fire and is really tough. Nice purple flowers throughout the summer. I like how it ruffles around my stepping stones and perennials. No idea where it came from but I can bring some to Calgary on the weekend if you like, Ostrich. :)

Ginny

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 1:48AM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

Creeping Charlie I am told, is what it really is. :) Nice and green anyway. :)

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 1:52AM
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don555(3a)

Mint. One of the native mints, or better for flavour one of the imports. Chocolate mint is nice. Mint loves moist shady areas, and will choke out your weeds. Might have to put in some garden edging to stop it from spreading beyond where you want it though.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 5:11AM
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squirelette

I have Woodruff that was in fairly deep shade when I planted it and is now in mostly sun it did great in both it spreads widely and quickly so it should do fine in that spot. It does overgrow short plants, ran right over my shooting stars and Lady's Mantle. It does get tiny burrs for fruit which the dogs get in their fur. Also have Creeping Jenny which runs like crazy leaves are very bright it adds a real splash of gold. Problem I have with it is if I drop bits on the way to the compost I have new plants, same thing with mints. I do love my Woodruff it is taller does stand about 6" and it can look very messy in spring

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 8:45AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

I don't know if lamium hates wet soil or not. I have never seen it complain about anything, it just keeps growing and growing.

Another nice invasive is variegated goutweed. It stands a little taller but a big patch of it look gorgeous.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 9:37AM
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shazam_z3

Woodruff is great. When I moved I put some into the new yard because I like it so much.

Lamium doesn't seem to like constantly wet soil. I put some at the bottom of a grade and it's barely surviving this year (two leaves!).

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 11:51AM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

I have 3 varieties of lamium in my partial shade garden and they are fighting to take it over! Love it! They are also in soil that never gets drier than damp. 'Lemon Frost' is my fav as it glows at dusk.

SCG

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 3:09PM
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north53 Z1b MB(zone 1b Canada)

Lamium is now a weed in my yard. It's the self seeding that is resulting in it being everywhere. I still keep a couple of patches, but am now diligently culling it out of most areas.
It baffles me that most people find it well behaved. I must have perfect soil for it.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 3:32PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I have Pewter Pink, which was nice and well-behaved for several years, but it has now gone nuts and is showing up all over the place. I'm tempted to dig it out and plant it in a spot where nothing seems to want to grow, but i'm not sure if that's a good move or not. Knowing my history with invasives - NOT! LOL

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 6:02PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

I guess I don't find it invasive (yet) because i just rip it out of the places I don't want it to be. It will meet my glyphosate friend if it gets too bad.

SCG

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 10:20PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

WOW! I came home from work and saw all of these great suggestions! Thank you so much!

I think that I am gonna try some Sweet Woodruff. That stuff is just too pretty!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL That Golden Creeping Jenny (somehow I always called her CREEPY JENNY instead LOL) may be an idea, as long as she will not escape to my lawn! Then I would really hate her LOL

As for lamium, perhaps I should just try a little bit.... this year, as some of you already mentioned, I am finding little bits of it all over my yard! How on earth did it get there, like 40 feet away from the original patch!? Does it produce seeds or whatever that would be carried by the wind or what!? Hmm.... anyway, perhaps I will try a small patch of it. I think that it will really not tolerate some wet areas over winter as I failed get that Lemon one going in an area this past winter and it was pretty moist there, I guess.

As for gout weed - OMG, it is pretty OK, but I am scared to death to try that, for fear that it would take over my yard!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ginny, I have never seen Creeping Charlie (or is it also CREEPY CHARLIE!? ROTFLOL!) so let me look it up! Thanks for the offer though.

Now, as for don's interesting suggestion of Chocolate Mint, I always thought that mint would need a sunny and dry area! Well, funny you said that because I saw that in CT one day and really loved the smell, so I bought one and then read that it's super invasive! So I am not planting it in a pot instead! LOL! I so worry that this will take over my yard....

BTW, has anyone tried Lily of the Valley!? Is that super invasive as well?

I probably will have a mix of Sweet Woodruff, lamium and Creepy (!) something in that area then.... LOL!

Thanks everyone for your suggestion! it is much appreciated.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 11:05PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

Love your idea Ostrich, a small combination of everything some people consider invasive....my type of planting! LOL

SCG

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 11:47PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

I have some patches of lily of the valley. It spreads vigorously but you can pull it out where it's not wanted. I love the smell but out of bloom it's very boring.

I would say that variegated goutweed is less invasive than LOTV. For me anyway.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 12:28AM
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ostrich(3a AB)

Thanks, northspruce! Very good point. The LOTV leaves are not that interesting to look at when they are not blooming.

I cannot believe that gout weed is not as invasive as LOTV! I have not grown neither but I probably will stay away from either then.... LOL! Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 12:48AM
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don555(3a)

LOTV doesn't have interesting leaves, but they do at least stay green all summer so that's a plus. It is probably quite invasive in a moist area. I have some in the shade under a pine and the dryness there prevents it from doing much of anything... after 4 years it is surviving but really the plants are no bigger than when I bought them (I wanted them to spread and colonize that dry area, no such luck.)

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 1:47AM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

My LOTV took years before it started to spead. I had wanted it to go down a small embankment towards the creek so that we wouldn't have to try and mow in there. It took so long to establish that i actually ended up planting some goutweed in that area figuring they could duke it out for supremacy! :)

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 9:05AM
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