Groundcover - Knowledgebase Question

Alameda, Ca
Question by kimberlysaly
January 22, 2011
We have a small (192 sg ft) backyard that is just dirt. It only gets a little on indirect sunlight. I am looking for the best groundcover for the area that is relatively low maintenance and tolerates a lot of shade.
Also, the yard seems to have very unhealthy soil, what is the best way to prepare it for a groundcover application.


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Answer from NGA
January 22, 2011

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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. A final suggestion is Gaultheria shallon (salal). It's a native plant that's low growing and spreads well in the shade. Soil preparation is important for all plants and the easiest approach is to remove all vegetation from the planting area and then spread 3-4 inches of compost or other organic matter over the area, digging it in to a depth of six to eight inches. Organic matter will help loosen the soil, help it hold moisture, and provide nutrients to the roots of your new groundcover. Whichever plant you choose, be sure to water regularly to keep the plants thriving. Best wishes with your new groundcover.

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