Return to the Groundcovers Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Ground Cover(s) for Heat and Shade

Posted by ApprenticeGardener 7 (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 1, 12 at 15:06

We have an area about 25' X 30' that is next to the east side
of the house. It is shaded on two sides by second story decks and on the remaining two sides by tall trees with an English Ivy border.The area gets 3 to 4 hours direct sun a day.

Red Fesque was previously used as a "ground cover", but even it has given up trying to survive. I posted a request to ideas on replacement grass seed on the "Lawn Care" part of this forum. All responses basically said "Abandon Hope" as far as grass was concerned and explore a true ground cover.

We are now thinking of moving our existing above-ground fire-pit to the area, installing gravel and seating around the pit, and adding stepping stones to better define the (now) dirt paths that go through the area.

This will leave about 100 sq.ft. for ground cover, most or all of which will be low or no traffic area. Any suggestion for ground covers that could be used in these areas?

Thanks, in advance, for your ideas. Best Wishes--CARL & MARGO


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Ground Cover(s) for Heat and Shade

The advice you received was correct, despite the claims made by grass seed companies and their "shade mix" products: Grasses are definitely not going to do well with that little sun exposure. Mazus, Ajuga, and Green-and-Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) come to mind as alternatives, but there are more options. Moisture will be the biggest concern as many shade groundcovers really cannot thrive if they are dry. There are some though, like barrenwort, that will do fine dry. Also, you need to specify how high you want the groundcover to be -- plants up to 1 ft. high are often considered groundcovers, but some people really prefer something that is only a few inches high. Personally, I really like U.S. native viola walteri var. 'Silver Gem' as a shade groundcover.


Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Click the link below, fill in your information about exposure, etc. and you will get some more choices. The conditions you list seem to leave you with many good possibilities. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Groundcover Selector


 o
RE: Ground Cover(s) for Heat and Shade

Lots of good groundcovers for dry shade :-) Other choices include Lamium maculatum, Euphorbia robbiea, Aegopodium podagraria, pachysandra, liriope and sweet woodruff (watch out for this - very aggressive). For taller choices, the epis, Geranium macrorrhizum or Sarcococca humilis.


 o
RE: Ground Cover(s) for Heat and Shade

Appreciate the suggestions thus far. We'd like to keep the ground cover low, 3" to 4" at the most. We are also concerned because there are copperheads in the general area that sometimes appear and don't want to give them any hiding places near the house.

What are your opinions on a dwarf mondo grass?


 o
RE: Ground Cover(s) for Heat and Shade

Mondo grass is a fine choice in my opinion. Dwarf cultivars are very slow to spread so you would need to buy enough plants to pretty much fill the entire area (or you can divide plants to help cover more area at planting time), but be prepared to wait several years for it to fill in. It looks nice en masse, but the flowers are inconspicuous so there really isn't anything colorful to anticipate. But if you are looking for a grass-like look in shade, it is hard to beat mondo.

It is a fairly low maintenance plant. I am assuming the area gets morning sun since it faces east. If that is the case, mondo will do fine. It doesn't like hot midday/afternoon sun or very dry conditions.


 o
RE: Ground Cover(s) for Heat and Shade

We are giving serious consideration to vinca minor 'Illumination'. Described as growing low enough (about 4"), easy to plant and maintain, relatively inexpensive, and shade tolerant (we're willing to sacrifice profuse flowering).

Am I correct in this assessment?


 o
RE: Ground Cover(s) for Heat and Shade

Yes, that is a very nice looking plant. The color really lights up the shade. It will love the shade and spread nicely, so you don't have to fill the area completely -- it will grow in fairly quickly. It will look less "formal" than mondo grass will, but definitely save you some money.


 o
RE: Ground Cover(s) for Heat and Shade

Yes, much faster coverage than the mondo grass!! IME tho, any vinca will grow deeply enough to provide coverage for snakes. Just saying........:-)


 o
RE: Ground Cover(s) for Heat and Shade

"gardengal48"--You're right, but we've only seen one on our property in the 12 years we've lived here, and that in the front. Our home and one neighbor sit on a rise at the end of a cul-de-sac, with the remaining surrounding homes on a lower elevation. They are the ones who have reported the most snake sightings and problems, including one outside dog that died from multiple bites. Many of those properties back up to a natural area surrounded by development which has a natural stream, hardwoods and dense understory--ideal habitat for critters.

What we will probably do to lessen any risk is to edge the areas where the groundcover will go and raise these areas slightly above the surrounding ground surfaces; build a hard surface (probably brick) onto which the firepit and seating will go; and mulch the rest of the area with rubber mulch.

"mistascott"--since there should be four separate planting areas, we'll probably use both vinca and viola for variety (unintended alliteration there).

Best Wishes--Carl & Margo


 o
RE: Ground Cover(s) for Heat and Shade

Also, be sure to take a look at Chrysogonum virginianum (Green & Gold) pictured below, an evergreen native with a long bloom period to add even more color to the shade. That viola ('Silver Gem') stayed evergreen for me in our mild winter last year but is listed as semi-evergreen.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Groundcovers Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here