ground cover

Asked February 14, 2017, 3:48 PM EST

I have erosion from rain in my backyard and it it pretty shady. I was wanting a recommendation on some type of ground cover (other than grass) that would flourish is shady areas and give the ground some strength to halt the erosion. I have tried grass, but the shade it too much to keep it growing. Something wild/weedy is fine. Thanks

Jefferson County Kentucky

1 Response

Ground covers are valuable in special sites where turf grass will not thrive, where regular turf maintenance (mowing) is a problem, or where a diversity of color and texture are desirable. Use of woody shrubs, vines, and herbaceous perennials as ground covers has become increasingly popular in residential and commercial landscapes and along highways. They can be deciduous or evergreen, broadleaved or needle-leaved, three feet tall or ground huggers.

Erosion can complicate landscape issues. If you have erosion problems due to an extreme slope issue, it may take several plantings to achieve stablization.The University of Kentucky recommends the following list of ground covers. These plants are all hardy in Kentucky.

SUN (More than 5 hours per day)

Low-Growing (Less than 12 inches tall):

Aegopodium podagraria (Goutweed, Bishop's Weed)
Ajuga reptans (Ajuga, Carpet Bugle)
Artemesia schmidtiana 'Silver Mound' (Silver Mound Artemesia)
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Blue Ceratostigma)
Clematis paniculata (Sweet Autumn Clematis)
Cotoneaster dammeri 'Lowfast,''Skogholm' (Bearberry Cotoneaster)
C. salicifolia (Willowleaf Cotoneaster)
Euonymus fortunei (Big Leaf Wintercreeper)
Forsythia viridissima 'Bronxensis' (Bronx Forsythia)
Geranium spp. (Cranesbill, Hardy Geranium)
Hedera helix (English Ivy)
Iberis sempervirens (Perennial Candytuft)
Juniperus chinensis (Chinese Juniper) Many cultivars
J. conferta (Shore Juniper) Many cultivars
J. horizontalis (Creeping Juniper) Many cultivars
Lonicera x brownii 'Dropmore Scarlet' (Brown's Honeysuckle)
L. x heckrottii (Goldflame Honeysuckle)
L. japonica 'Halliana' (Hall's Honeysuckle)
L. sempervirens (Trumpet Honeysuckle)
Lysimachia nummalaria (Moneywort)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper, Woodbine)
P. tricuspidata (Japanese Creeper, Boston Ivy)
Paxistima canbyii (Canby Paxistima)
Phlox subulata (Moss pink, Ground pink)
Polygonum affine (Himalayan Fleeceflower)
Rosa wichuriana (Memorial Rose)
Sedum spp. (Stonecrop)
Thymus spp. (Thyme)
Veronica spp. (Vervain, Garden Verbena) Select species with prostrate forms.

SHADE (Less than 2 hours direct sun)

Low (Less than 12 inches tall):

Aegopodium podagraria (Goutweed, Bishop’s Weed)

Ajuga reptans (Ajuga, Carpet Bugle)

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry, Kinnikinnick)

Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger)

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (Blue Ceratostigma)

Chrysogonum virginianum (Green and Gold, Goldenstar)

Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-Valley)

Cornus Canadensis (Bunchberry)

Epimedium x rubrum (Barrenwort, Bishop’s Hat)

Epimedium x versicolor (Barrenwort, Bishop’s Hat)

Euonymus fortune (Big Leaf Wintercreeper)

Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff)

Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen)

Hedera helix (English Ivy)

Hosta spp. (Hosta, Plaintain Lily)

Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver,’ ‘White Nancy,’ ‘Chequers’ (Spotted Dead Nettle)

Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’ (Hall’s Honeysuckle)

Lysimachia nummalaria (Moneywort)

Pachysandra terminalis (Pachysandra, Japanese Spurge)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper, Woodbine)

P. tricuspidata (Japanese Creeper, Boston Ivy)

Paxistima canbyii (Canby Paxistima)

Pulmonaria spp. and hybrids (Lungwort)

Tiarella spp. (False Miterwort, Foamflower)

Waldensteinia ternate (Barren Strawberry)

These plants are suggested by the university in our Groundcovers for Kentucky publication. Site preparation, soil requirements, planting and care are also discussed. This is a link to the publication in its entirety:

Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.

Let me know if I can help you further!

Carol Wilder
Horticulture Technician
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
810 Barret Ave
Louisville KY 40204