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Ground Covers That Thrive in Dry, Shady Areas of Your Yard

Pachysandras - Farmside Landscape & Design

Ground Covers That Thrive in Dry, Shady Areas of Your Yard

This month, we’re focusing on ground covers for one of the most difficult planting sites of your landscape – dry shade. Here are some plants that add color, texture and interest to shady spots in your garden, with minimal effort.


Lamium –  (Lamium Maculatum – “Deadnettle”) – A member of the mint family, (Lamiaceae) Lamium is a beautiful addition to your shade garden or a shady spot that needs some color. Lamium has flowers that look like tiny snapdragons that bloom on and off from spring through fall, atop decorative, variegated leaves. Heat-tolerant Lamium has a spreading growth habit and is low to the ground (8”-12” in height).


The range of colors available include blooms that go from white to deep fuchsia and variegated leaves that range from the softest silver and pale green to a brilliant gold pairing. Two varieties we like from Proven Winners include “Pink Chablis” a delicate combo of silver and green foliage with cotton candy pink flowers that light up dark spaces and “Purple Chablis” whose brilliant red-violet flowers deliver a pop of vivid color. Lamium looks wonderful paired with hostas.


Pachysandra (As pictured in the main image of this blog post) – A classic groundcover for shady spots, Pachysandra has earned its reputation for being a garden staple thanks to its neat, evergreen foliage that spreads easily and works as well on sloped areas as it does on level ground. In early spring, white, bottle brush-shaped blooms appear above new growth. Proven Winners’ “Green Carpet” variety is a Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit winner for 2002, thanks to its compact form and rich, deep-green foliage that creates a lush, verdant carpet in the landscape.


Sedge – Similar to ornamental grasses in appearance (blade-like leaves that reproduce from seed and rhizomes) they differ from grasses in their ability to perform as well or better in the shade as they do in the sun. Sedge comes in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes – leaves that range from thin elegant strands to wide straps, in colors that include shades of green, near blue, yellow and copper. Height can be from several inches to 3 feet.


Plants that Thrive in Dry Shady Locations - Farmside Landscape & DesignProven Winners’ “Ice Dance” has gorgeous variegated leaves that include creamy-white margins outlining a deep green center, and reaches a height of 10”-16.” Other notable varieties include “Appalachian Sedge” (Carex Applalachica) that has been gaining popularity as a “no-mow” lawn thanks to its grass-like, narrow leaves and compact height (6”-8”), “Bristle-leaf Sedge” (Carex Eburnean) with soft, fine, dark green foliage that grows in fountain-like clumps that reach a height of 6”-12,” and “Pennsylvania Sedge” (Carex Pensylvanica) a tough, drought-tolerant variety that forms a dense mat over time, yet feels soft underfoot.


Main Image Photo Credit: Pixabay – Pachysandras