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Grass needs at least 6 hours of sunlight to thrive. For very shady areas where grass won’t grow, consider these perennial groundcovers.


Gaultheria procumbens

Grows up to 6 inches and spreads 4 to 6 inches annually. Favors well-drained, acidic soils with average moisture. Grows in partial to full shade. Leaves are evergreen, and red berries remain on the plant all winter. Young leaves and berries have a wintergreen flavor.


Pachysandra procumbens

Medium-sized herbaceous perennial evergreen groundcover. Fragrant, white flowers develop in the spring. Grows best in deep shade and prefers moist, well-drained, acidic soil. Slow growth rate; grows to 10” tall and forms a mat on the ground.

Sweet Woodruff

Galium odoratum

Shade to partial shade; fast growing; quick to establish; beautiful, white spring flowers and attractive foliage through to snow. Is seldom bothered by pests or diseases. Prefers slightly acid soil pH of around 5.0 and moist, well-drained soil in the shade. DEER RESISTANT.


Cornus candidosis

Grows approximately 6 inches in height and spreads easily. Favors moist, rich, acidic soils. Grows best in partial to full shade. Larger white bracts surround small green flowers. A red berry is produced in the fall and is attractive to birds. NATIVE.

Lily of the Valley

Convallaria majalis

Grows from 0.5 to 1 foot high with a spread of up to 1 foot. Not the best choice for a perennial bed, but it’s good for ground cover as it spreads easily and may need thinning. Small, white, bell-shaped flowers bloom in early spring and are fragrant. Prefers rich soil with medium moisture and partial to full shade.

Credit: Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District.
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