Print This Page

Dallas Morning News - July 24, 2019

Can't Grow Grass in Your Shady Yard? Try These Pretty Ground Covers


How do you grow grass in heavy shade? Sorry, it can't be done. Trees and grass both need the sunlight. Trees win! There is a solution though: shade-loving ground covers. Hard surface materials such as decomposed granite, flagstone, lava gravel and natural mulches can also be used along with shade-loving shrubs, ferns and other plants. But turf grasses just won't cut it.


Here are the best choices for North Texas.


Asian jasmine is probably the best choice for ground cover


Asian jasmine is possibly the best choice of all these ground covers. It is evergreen, dense, low growing, with small, shiny, oval leaves, no flowers, and will climb but not readily. It needs moist, well-drained, well-prepared soil, but once established it is quite drought-tolerant. It should be cut down by mowing at the highest setting in late winter and again in July if wanted. Under the organic program, winter damage ranges from none to slight burning of tip growth.



English Ivy


English ivy is a relatively fast-growing evergreen for shade to part shade. It will climb most any surface. It needs good bed preparation, good drainage and mulch for establishment. 'Needlepoint' and 'Hahn's' ivy are smaller leafed cultivars. The variegated form is good to use with flowering plants.


Horseherb is a deciduous to semi-evergreen native ground cover for shade to part shade. It has ever-blooming tiny yellow flowers and is easy to grow in any soil. It freezes to the ground some winters but returns each spring. It is drought-tolerant, pest free and looks terrific when planted with wild violets. Some people unfortunately consider it a weed.


Liriope, aka monkey grass and lilyturf, is an evergreen ground cover for sun or shade. Its grasslike clumps spread by underground stems to form solid mass planting. It has blue flowers on stalks in early summer. It can be cut down in late winter just before the new spring growth, but it's not critical or even recommended. It is easy to divide and transplant anytime.





Ophiopogon, aka mondograss, is an evergreen low-growing, grass-like ground cover for shade or part shade. It grows in clumps but spreads by rhizomes to form a solid mass. It needs even moisture and regular fertilization, and can be mowed occasionally for more of a turf look, but it's not necessary. A dwarf form of this plant is very compact, dark green, and slow growing.


Persian Ivy


Persian ivy is a wonderful evergreen ground cover for shady areas. It's just as cold-tolerant as English ivy but less susceptible to diseases. It's also more drought-tolerant than English ivy, but not as easy to find in nurseries. It's one of my favorite ground covers but it does have a fatal flaw. It cannot stand any direct sun.


There are some other choices, but they are not as forgiving as the ones mentioned.




  Search Library Topics      Search Newspaper Columns