What is an appropriate groundcover to plant under evergreen trees?

Asked August 1, 2014, 2:33 AM EDT

We would like to know what is an appropriate groundcover or plant for using under evergreen trees, on a 3 1/2' to 4' slope, mostly shaded. Hope to avoid planting any invasive groundcovers that could attach to a laurel hedge at the top of a hill.

Snohomish County Washington groundcovers lrk horticulture

1 Response

There are a number of good shade-tolerant and drought-tolerant groundcovers. I have personally grown epimediums, pachysandra, sweet woodruff, Oregon oxalys, the short Oregon grape, Mahonia nervosa, fringe cup, piggyback plant, many ferns, kinnikinnik, glacier lily, and many more. Many of the Washington native plants are adapted to dry shade. They will need deep infrequent watering during establishment (one to two years), starting with more frequent watering and then tapering off.

For photos and information, consult these publications:

While by their nature groundcovers spread to cover ground, some are over the top in their vigor and will create nightmares of invading plants and days of pulling them out of where you don't want them. Avoid lamium, ivy, most oxalis, arums, and vinca (periwinkle) which are definitely thugs that will try to take over other parts of the garden. Those plants that spread by stolons or aboveground stems, then sink roots at the nodes, are particularly difficult to pull out without growing back more vigorously.