Shade Plants for Your Yard Ground Cover

Shade Plants for Your Yard Ground Cover

Shaded areas can be difficult to grow, but filling low-light areas with shaded ground cover plants is a great low-maintenance option for gardeners. Fortunately, there are a surprising number of options for shade-loving ground covers. In this article, I’m going to introduce you to my favorites and share some quick information on how to set up these soil-hugging plants.

The advantages of planting ground covers in the shade

There are many advantages to covering the soil in shaded areas with low-growing cover. Firstly, these are often the same areas where it is difficult to grow typical sod. If you have a low-light area where the grass is uneven and has difficulty growing, consider replacing it with shaded ground cover plants. By replacing your lawn with ground covers, you also have the advantage of not having to mow.

The low-maintenance vegetation cover also prevents erosion and reduces weeds. Over time, they form a dense carpet on the soil, protect it from wind and heavy rains, and shade the soil more, preventing weed seeds from germinating and reducing the need for watering after the plants have settled.

Quick definition of the shadow / partial shadow

Before we dive into what makes a good shady ground cover, we need to define what is meant by “shade”. Full shade receives less than 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. The penumbra receives between 4 and 6 hours of full sun per day. Spotted shade, for example, under a small tree with a canopy such as a mature dogwood, is still considered partial shade, even if it is uneven.

Whether your shady place is considered to be in total or partial shade, the ground covers that I describe after in this article will do the trick very well. The only lighting conditions to avoid for these plants are full sun. Areas in full sun receive at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day and provide too much light for these favorite plants in the shade.

Qualities to look for in shady ground cover plants

It is important to consider the properties you desire in the ground cover you choose.
Whenever possible, opt for non-invasive choices. Invasive ground covers such as English ivy(Hedera helix), Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) or periwinkle (Vinca minor) have stems and/or roots that spread very quickly, which may seem like a good thing if you want to cover a lot of soil quickly. However, they tend to escape cultivation and end up in wild areas, posing a threat to native plants.

Secondly, decide whether you prefer to grow a single ground cover or mix several. Often mixing is the right way to go, because in this way, if a species does not function properly or succumbs to a pest or issue, you already have another established one to replace it. You can really create a beautiful matrix of mixed ground covers that grow together for a creative design.

And finally, think about whether you want a shady ground cover that blooms or whether this evergreen is more important to you. There are even a few types of ground covers for shade that I present below that are both flowery and evergreen!

How to find the best shady ground cover for your area

When looking for a shady ground cover, you will want to choose one that is resistant to the range of growing areas in which your garden is located. Make sure that your choice is suitable for your climate. All the varieties in this article are perennials, but some are more resistant than others. For example, if you live in Minnesota, you will need a more resistant plant than someone who lives in South Carolina. Choose the right path.

In addition, if your shaded area is under a very tall tree with an extensive root system, it is worth looking for drought-tolerant ground cover plants. Under the tall trees there is a huge competition for water, so drought tolerance is a must for any shady ground cover planted there.

Let’s take a look at some of the best shady ground cover options. I divided them into a few groups.:

  • Unusual choices
  • Easy to find options
  • Evergreen ground cover
  • Shrub ground cover
  • Unusual shade ground cover plants that bloom

Blueberries (Cornus canadensis): this small ground cover is ideal under deciduous trees, although it is difficult to find it on the market. It produces white flowers with four petals followed by red berries. Bunchberry is a relative of the dogwood (same genus) and is also called creeping dogwood. Six inches high. Native to North America. Ideal for wet areas. Zones 2 to 6.

Ariadne (Epimedium species): The elongated heart-shaped leaves of this drought-tolerant shady groundcover are super cute, but its tenacity is what makes it a real star. The small flowers are short-lived in early spring, but the foliage remains semi-evergreen throughout the winter. The thick rhizomes mean that this plant can easily survive under pine trees and high canopies. The resistance of deer and rabbits is another advantage. Rustic areas 5 to 9

Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum): Native to the eastern United States, green and gold produce small bright yellow flowers in spring and spread through the rhizomes. Medium, well-drained soil is preferable when planted in the shade. Quickly forms a dense carpet, but it is not persistent. Rustic zones 5 to 9.

Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon): this fast-spreading shady ground cover has variegated leaves and yellow flowers. It tolerates drought and deer, and the roots crawl as the stems crawl. A warning that in some areas of the United States it has been declared an invasive plant. Zones 4 to 9.

Wild ginger (Asarum canadense): This native North American plant has medium green leaves and prefers rich, humid shady conditions. The flowers are small and hidden under the heart-shaped leaf which reaches 6 to 10 centimeters in height. Wild ginger is propagated by underground rhizomes. Perfect for gardens. Resistant to deer. Rustic zones 4 to 6.

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