The Q&A Archives: Ground Cover for Shade

Question: I have a shady spot next to our house that is just clay right now. I would like to put down a low growing ground cover, to keep the area from being muddy when it rains. I would classify the soil to be dry to moist. The area gets very little sun. I would prefer to not do Ivy, are there any other plants that would work?

Answer: You have quite a variety of plants that you could grow in an area like that. You might consider Vinca minor (periwinkle), epidemium, hostas and lily of the valley. Of these, only the Vinca is evergreen however these are all sturdy perennials with good performance in shady areas including fairly dry shade. If a particular area tends to be evenly moist, you could try growing ferns there.

I would suggest working some organic matter such as compost or rotted chopped leaves into the soil and plan on mulching with an organic mulch between the plants until they fill in. You will also need to water so that the soil stays evenly moist at their roots until they are well established. These steps will help enrich the soil and encourage better rooting.

If the muddiness is due to a downspout or gutter draining into the area, you may want to put an extender on that or redirect it to avoid flooding the area along the foundation during rainy spells or times when the snow melts -- it is always better to direct excess water away from the foundation of a building.

Good luck with your planting project!

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