I have a few acres of wooded property next to my home which is regularly...

Asked September 17, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT

I have a few acres of wooded property next to my home which is regularly overgrown with invasive vines. I would like to plant some sort of spreading ground-cover deer-resistant perennial which would thrive in a partial shade to mostly shade condition. Also, the soil is poor and mostly clay after the first inch of top soil. In the attached photo, the picture to the left is what it looks like after two years of inattention with the weeds taller than a person; to the right is just after clearing all the weeds. Since it's mostly woods, there isn't much sun light. Since I cannot afford to plant 2 acres of ground cover, is there a plant you would recommend that would help to curtail the weeds under the conditions described – something that would naturally spread? For instance, it would be lovely to have two acres of Black-eyed Susans protecting the understory of these woods. Would they thrive in these shady conditions? Are there any other native plants that would work? Deer regularly graze in these woods so Hostas wouldn’t last.

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

Black eyed susan grows best in full sun and will not thrive in the shade. Consider a mix of shrubs and groundcovers/herbaceous plants that would create vertical layers in the landscape. This would create habitat for a variety of wildlife and insects. You will have to keep new weeds/invasives controlled as they appear.
Some choices include itea virginica, ferns, pennsylvania sedge, and alleghany spurge. See our publications on native plants and our deer resistant list. Keep in mind that deer may browse on any new plantings until mature. So you may want to initially protect them with repellents or deer netting.