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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 welldrained, acidic soils with average moisture. Grows in partial to full shade. Leaves are evergreen and red berries remain on the plant and 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 pest or disease. Prefers slightly acid soil pH of around 5.0, and moist, well-drained soil in the shade. DEER RESISTANT.


Cornus canadesis

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 perennial bed but 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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