The Q&A Archives: Groundcover for Dry Shade

Question: I have an area beside my house, underneath a staircase, which receives very little light and no direct sunlight. It can be irrigated if need be. What type of groundcover would you suggest that would give some color there and takes very little maintenance? I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so we get quite a bit of fog.

Answer: If the area is in dense shade, you may have difficulty getting anything to grow there. If you can make a shadow against the ground when holding your hand several inches above the soil, there may be enough light to grow Sweet Woodruff, Bishop's Weed, wild violets or Lamium (Dead Nettle) there. Lamium and Bishop's Weed have variegated leaves, and violets and Sweet Woodruff produce flowers, so any of these choices will perk up the area beneath your staircase. Whichever plant you choose, be sure to water regularly to keep the plants thriving.

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