The Q&A Archives: Shady Plants For Sandy Soil

Question: We have a front northside yard that is mostly sand. I have tried to plant shade loving grass and plants, but they
always die. Help! I am usually pretty good with plants, and gardening, but this is terrible.

Answer: Sandy soil can be a real benefit for plants that don't like wet feet, but generally the plants that grow best in full shade like moist soil, as well. Why not add some organic matter to the bed to help it retain moisture? Begin by spreading 4"-6" of aged compost, leaf mold, peat moss or aged manure over the top of the bed, and then digging it in to a depth of 8"-10". This will put the moisture-retentive matter right at root level for your new plants. Grasses aren't usually a good choice for shade, but many groundcovers will thrive in shade. Have you considered Vinca, Star Jasmine, or even Wild Violets (Viola). A bonus with these groundcovers is that they provide seasonal bloom. If you'd rather plant annuals and perennials, try Acanthus, Windflower, Columbine, Wild Ginger, Caladium, Clivia, Bleeding Heart, Ferns of all kinds, Sweet Woodruff, Hosta, Impatiens, Lobelia or Solomon's Seal.

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