Best Ground Covers for Shade
Shade tolerant ground covers solve a multitude of landscaping problems. These plants thrive in cool, moist areas where lawns usually struggle. They hide uneven surfaces and are not fazed by steep, inaccessible slopes. Most are long-lived perennials that get more beautiful over time. Plus, they never need mowing!
If you have a shady area that’s in need of a makeover, here are eight ground covers that will make your yard prettier and your life easier:
Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
Bugleweed forms a dense, 6” high mat that is very weed resistant. The scalloped leaves come in many colors, from maroon to sage green, chocolate brown to almost black. Some varieties have glossy foliage and others have a flat, matte surface. Pretty, violet-blue flower spikes appear in late spring. Deer resistant.
Hostas are bigger and have more personality than most ground covers. Stick with just one or two varieties if you want a simple, unified look. For a more varied, garden-like appearance, combine different heights, foliage colors and leaf textures. For small areas, there are miniature hostas that grow just 6” tall.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
Weeds can’t compete with the glossy, emerald green leaves of this vigorous ground cover. In fact, lily of the valley will overtake most other plants, so make sure to give it plenty of room to run. Height is 6 to 8”. Late spring flowers are intensely fragrant and nice for cutting.
Ferns add elegance and grace to shade gardens, woodlands and natural areas. They come in many different heights, from the delicate little Japanese Painted Fern (Anthyrium) to the chest-high Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). For lowest maintenance, plant large areas with a single species. Ferns are rarely damaged by deer.
Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis)
A dependable, evergreen ground cover with tidy rosettes of emerald green leaves. Spreads by rhizomes into a dense carpet of foliage. Pachysandra tolerates sun, but looks more attractive when grown in shade. Grows 6 to 10” tall. Deer and rabbit resistant.
Periwinkle (Vinca minor)
A creeping ground cover with small shiny leaves on wiry stems. The trailing stems root as they run to fill in any open spaces. Vinca prefers moist soil. Flowers appear in late spring and come in white, blue or lavender. Some varieties have variegated foliage. Grows 3-5” tall.
Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum)
Lamium is a low-growing ground cover with decorative foliage that is usually variegated and often frosted with silver. The early summer flower clusters are pink, white or blue. Grows 6-10” tall. Can be shorn after flowering to maintain a compact habit. Deer resistant.
Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum)
A lacy ground cover with whorls of bright green leaves and fragrant, starry white flowers in late spring. Plant sweet woodruff in moist, rich soil and full to partial shade. Once established, it spreads freely. The foliage is fragrant when crushed, especially after being dried. 5-7” tall.
To see our complete selection of shade-loving perennials, please click HERE.