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sturdy ground cover for P. Shade to Full Shade

Posted by chenya_gardener zone 5, IL (My Page) on
Thu, May 11, 06 at 21:25

I have a area on the side of the house that is directly under several large trees which is why I am having problems growing grass on that side. (part shade to full shade all day) Due to that I am looking for other alternatives. So far from the research I have found so far on the web, on my list is moss, vinca minor and Ajuga. Since I am by no means a expert gardener I really don't know which if any would work in my situation.

What are the growing habits? Are they sturdy enough to withstand foot traffic (Moderate)? Any thing else I might need to know? I originally thought about IVY but hey we all know that IVY grows everywhere. Not really interested in that. I am going to home depot Friday to check out what they have.

I might mention that this side of the yard has a tendency to flood during spring rains. We have had many times where we have had a foot of water standing so the plants would need to be able to deal with that. Being in IL we also have hot, dry, humid summers so the plants would have to be able to deal with that as well. Is there such a plant that can deal with both extremes with ease?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: sturdy ground cover for P. Shade to Full Shade

I guess I forgot to add that this area is in front of our shed so whatever we grow needs to stay low to the ground. Preferably 2-4" or so. Also this is a rather large area. Approx 10-15' wide by 25-30' long I'm guessing. I haven't been able to actually measure it yet becuase of all the rain lately.

RE: sturdy ground cover for P. Shade to Full Shade

Vinca would be a good choice, but I'm not sure if it could stand in water and survive long. Creeping Jenny is a beautiful shade groundcover that loves moisture, it's bright colored and tough. Lily of the Valley is another one to consider, and also Lamium, although if it's to hot it wont look nice in summer. Good luck!


RE: sturdy ground cover for P. Shade to Full Shade

symphytum grandiflorum, Comfrey, miaght be worthwhile looking in to.

RE: sturdy ground cover for P. Shade to Full Shade

Classic pachysandra will tolerate any of the given by you conditions except it doesn't like to be stepped on.
Even a very light traffic.
Vinca minor could withstand ocassional step on, but also is not suitable for traffic areas.

RE: sturdy ground cover for P. Shade to Full Shade

The requirements you've outlined are pretty daunting. Few plants will tolerate submersion in water for any length of time, full shade eliminates many possbilities, and withstanding foot traffic complicates matters even more. So..
How about a stone or masonry path to deal with the foot traffic issue?
What grows there now? This could be a helpful indication.
Creeping jenny might work and so might sweet woodruff, but you would need a huge number of plants to fill an area this size.
Moss would be a good choice if you can find a source of sods. Perhaps there's somewhere they could be collected with the land owner's permission. Moss is a terific germination bed for weeds of all types, it's hard to rake leaves up without causing damage, so it's not a low maintanence solution.
If nothing at all grows here now indicating near impossible conditions for plants, I think I'd opt for a stone/masonry path surrounded by gravel mulch (bark would float away). You could certainly plant ferns and other shade tolerant plants here and there. Any shade tolerant plants which grow in flood plains should be suitable.

RE: sturdy ground cover for P. Shade to Full Shade

I think mainegrower has a really good idea. I'd probably use pine straw for the ground cover. It doesn't float away easily, and it looks really nice with the occasional plant peaking up out of it. Plants that I have in moist shade include Solomon's seal, ligularia, astilbe, and chelone lyonii. All of them can take standing in water for short periods of time. I don't know of any groundcover.

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