The Q&A Archives: Bad soil and shady lot

Question: I have a sloped area that I need to put some sort of plant(s) in order to keep the soil from draining off the lot and to make it look nicer. It doesn't get much sun and the soil seems to be bad. I planted bulbs last fall but none came up. What plants might be good and do I need to bring in some better soil or use garden soil?

Answer: I think if you plant native groundcovers, they will adapt to the native soil and provide the erosion control you need. Remember that they need to be watered regularly until they become established and next spring will need some supplemental water if the summer weather is dry. Give one or more of these a try:

Asarum caudatum (Wild Ginger) grows best in mMoist shade. Flowers in spring, brown flower hides under leaves. grows 2"-4" high.
Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry); Partial to full shade, humus-rich soil. Spring flowers; bright red berries in summer. 2"-10", Semi-evergreen.
Fragaria chiloensis (Beach Strawberry) grows in full sun to part shade; dry to moderate soils; Spring flowers, berries edible. 1"-2", Nice low-growing ground cover.
Gaultheria ovatifolia (Slender Wintergreen) Adaptable, best in moist shade and acid soil. Flowers late spring to summer. Evergreen. Spreads but is not invasive. 4?8".
Linnaea borealis (Twinflower) Partial to full shade. Flowers in late spring. Low (1") evergreen. Spreads readily by stolons.
Mahonia (Berberis) nervosa (Low Oregon Grape) Prefers shade, can take some sun. Spring flowers, berries edible. Evergreen. Low maintenance ground cover, no pruning. Grows to 2' high.

Hope one of these suggestions is just right for your landscape.

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