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looking for groundcover for shady area

Posted by Dave3100 5b (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 13, 05 at 12:45


I have a sloped backyard facing north in Kansas City. There is about 20' of yard, then a limestone retaining wall then woods. I have a 12' wide deck almost the length of the house. As you can imagine the back yard gets very little sunlight. I've been trying to get various ground covers to grow and have had mixed results. Ive tried planting english and ajuga. The ivy is doing ok, but the ajuga didnt fair well. I also have some hostas and ferns that are doing ok. What I really want is a low growing ground cover that does well in shady areas that would take over the yard. Any suggestions?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: looking for groundcover for shady area

Here is a pic of the area, before any planting. Basically, all that is there now is some grass, hostas and english ivy under the deck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics of area

RE: looking for groundcover for shady area

I'm in your area - hi neighbor! :-)

I got some vinca from a friend in Clinton and it's been growing on both a south facing slope beneath a burning bush, and protected place between a yew bush and the porch on the east side of the house. Both places it does well where it is shaded (weeds didn't invade it), but has not yet ventured too far past the shaded spots, so I plan to plop some under the pin oak next year to replace the pathetic turf there. It's not very fast growing in my yard but I'm not much of a nurturer, so better care (i.e. watering every so often) might make a difference in the growth rate. Still, I haven't killed it so it's a winner in my book. It's evergreen, with pretty little blue flowers once in a while which is a bonus. So vinca is a consideration. Good luck!

RE: looking for groundcover for shady area

Look into Euphorbia amygdaloides- Almond Spurge to go with the vinca. Or some of the Epimediums. Both tolerate dry shade. Not all euphorbias take shade, most epimeduims will.

RE: looking for groundcover for shady area

Another, and one of my favorites, is Asarum europaeum (European Wild Ginger, hardy to z4). Takes a while to fill in when planted 12" apartabout 2-3 years, but that's faster than Pachysandra or Vinca (other favorites) in north shade. (My ginger grows in bright shade with about 20 minutes of dappled sun.)

Once a bed of A. europaeum is mature, plants are easy to divide by simply digging up and planting elsewhere. Bare spots from dividing a mature bed fill in quickly (more quickly than with Pachy or Vinca in my experience). Stays green all winter; glaucous green/blue-green leaves; flowers are inconspicuous.

A. canadense (Canadian Wild Ginger, z2) is worth a look, too. A real beauty and vigorous grower is A. shuttleworthii 'Calloway,' but it's rated hardy only to zone 6 (I wish I could grow it here).

Here is a link that might be useful: Asarum europaeum - site with pics

RE: looking for groundcover for shady area

I second the asarum. I have some and love it. It also looks good with hostas and ferns mixed in. Another possibility is helleborus - lenten rose. It's a good clumper and evergreen. If you truly mean you want something to take over that area, plant liriope spicata - spreads by underground runner and can take any kind of sun or conditions. Never needs maintenance or care - except of course watering for its first season to get it established. Just make sure it can't escape the area and take over your whole yard - looks from the picture like it will be sealed off by the wall, so that shouldn't be a problem. The other nice thing about it is that you don't have to prepare or amend the soil. I just stick it in hard-as-brick dry clay, stomp the soil back around it and watch it take off the following season. I also mow it in early spring before it starts putting out the new growth for the year, but I don't think you have to do that.

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