General Question

unacornea's avatar

What can I plant in my backyard as a groundcover?

Asked by unacornea (314points) April 6th, 2009

My yard is pretty shady, I live in San Francisco and want something I can plant as a groundcover that will be okay to sit on and not too much work to keep it alive. Ideas?

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8 Answers

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AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

How big is your yard? If it’s not too large, you may want to consider a putting in a patio with beds around the edge. Pachysandra is a great ground cover for shady areas, but you can’t sit on it. I have shade formula grass myself. It’s doing much better since we had the trees over our yard cut back. They’re our neighbors trees, but you are entitled to trim what hangs over into your yard.

kevbo's avatar

ajuga, epimedium, lamium, lily-of-the-valley, pachysandra (as mentioned above), pachistima, periwinkle, pulmonaria, sweet woodruff, wild ginger, and wintergreen

-from The Garden Primer

gailcalled's avatar

Myrtle (periwinkle) is easy, flowers, spreads, stays low to the ground. It grows wild around here. I just rip a piece with a small root out of the soil and shove it in somewhere else. Lily-of-the-valley is beautiful and aromatic but short-lived; however it will grow through the myrtle. Sweet woodruff is nice. I dislike pachysandra and English Ivy.

Another fast grower is Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia). They don’t call her “creeping Jenny” for nothing. Pretty yellow flowers bloom in the spring. I also stick some in my pot gardens – outside for the summer only. Bishop’s Weed is fast-growing and invasive.

Any kind of mint or lemon balm will also run amok.

Ginger, pulmonaria, and lamium are low-growing plants and don’t lie flat.

Myrtle would get my vote. You might want to sit on a towel however. Nothing will exactly replace grass.

Walk around the neighborhood and see what other gardners have done.

syz's avatar

Be careful of English Ivy, you’ll see it sold as a ground cover, but it’s highly aggressive. Of those mentioned, I like periwinkle and pachysandra.

I’ve never had any luck with lily-of-the-valley or Creeping Jenny, they don’t like to grow for me. And anything in the mint family goes everywhere when I try to grow it.

Darwin's avatar

My parents used Mountain Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana platypetala) which seemed to tolerate us kids fairly well.

There are a bunch more California native groundcovers that could be used.

What I would tend to do is put in some moderately large and flat rocks for sitting and walking, and then plant a mix of low-growing shade-loving natives in and around the rocks.

gailcalled's avatar

@Darwin: The CA. plants are interesting, and I wasn’t familiar with many of them. Low-growing thyme and the teeny mints will fill in around rocks. Also some of the small sedums.

@Syz; Your soil must be too alkaline and not cool or shady enough. Lilies-o-t-v spread like mad in our acid woods (oak leaves and pine needles), and Creeping Jenny is a plague.

DREW_R's avatar

Clover works well. ;)

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