Ground cover for shade, clay and mosquitoes

Asked March 7, 2018, 3:46 PM EST

Part of my back yard is heavily shaded so grass doesn't grow. The "soil" is mostly clay. And we have tiger mosquitoes. Can you recommend any ground cover that will grow and, if possible, not attract more mosquitoes? If it helps, we're in Dunloggin in Ellicott City, MD

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

In general, Mosquitoes like to rest on plants that tend to hold moisture on their leaves, so increase air circulation in an area by pruning shrubs and cutting down tall weeds. We do not have a list of specific plants.

Here is is general information on mosquito prevention. Mosquitoes can be an area wide issue and there are many mosquito species in MD. Among them is the Asian tiger mosquito. They are small, black with white striping on the legs and are out flying (and biting) during the day. If the mosquitoes come out primarily at night, then it is most likely a native mosquito which breeds in bodies of water such as wetlands that is the problem. But no matter what the species is the control tactics are very similar.

Reducing populations involves eliminating any water that is present in containers and other areas on your property. For additional information see our mosquito page,

Any water you can't regularly drain or change should be treated with mosquito dunks which contain Bt, a biological insecticide.

We don't recommend spraying or fogging with an insecticide for multiple reasons. The main reason is that the recommended insecticides can kill non-target species, including many beneficial insects and pollinators. Plus sprays often miss the target and do nothing to control the larvae. It is more effective to target the larva than spray the adults. Plus multiple sprays are necessary which is time consuming and expensive.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves, pants, and a hat (you can even find clothes treated with insecticides that repel insect pests). Repellents containing Deet work. Make sure to follow label instructions and consult with your pediatrician before applying to children. See our publication on preventing mosquito bites:

Here is our list of groundcovers. Consider Pa sedge, wood ferns, phlox stolonifera