The Q&A Archives: What Is Best To Plant In A Shaded Wooded Area?

Question: There is a large wooded area in the back of our house that we cleaned, mulched and planted 3 years ago but most of the plants died and we did not maintain it properly. It looks like woods again. The trees create a lot of shade so the sun barely reaches the ground. We plan to clean it and mulch and/or plant it again this spring. What would you recommend as appropriate for that area that would prevent it from growing back in to woods again?

Answer: Trees will compete with any underplanting for light, air, water and nutrients so it can be difficult to establish new plantings beneath them. You may need to improve the soil in pockets between the tree roots so that the new plants have a chance to get started; you will also need to water them carefully until they are well established. Some to experiment with would be the evergreen groundcover periwinkle (Vinca minor) or the perennial hosta or possibly epimedium. These will all tolerate the type of dry shade typically found in this type of situation once they are established.

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