The Q&A Archives: Ground cover under oaks

Question: I'm looking for a ground cover to replace a small lawn. There are 4 coastal oaks just a few feet away, slightly down slope. The ground cover needs to be (a) shade tolerant (b) deer proof (c) have low water needs because of the oaks. The lawn area is under the oak canopy. the oak trunks are surrounded by un-irragated ceonothus and vinca major. There is a eucalyptus grove a few yards away, so we have a big debris issue as well. I'm at a loss beyond thinking flagstone!

Answer: Oaks are very particular about sharing their space with other plants. They generally do not like as much water as other plants need. With this in mind, the following plants will grow in part shade, with very little water and should make good companions to your oaks: Achillea (wooly yarrow), Duchesnea indica (Indian mock strawberry), Cotoneaster, Hardenbergia (lilac vine), Sollya heterophylla (Australian Bluebell Creeper), and Ribes viburnifolium (Catalina Perfume).

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