How to Plant Ground Cover in Shady Areas


Though shady areas can be a challenge in the garden, there are many ground covers that will thrive in shady conditions. Choosing the one you like may be the most difficult part; the planting process is the same as for sunny areas. You can start ground cover from seed, but you'll get faster results if you spend a bit more and purchase small plants instead.

Step 1

Choose a shade-loving ground cover. Bugleweed, or ajuga, forms a tight carpet of shiny leaves. English ivy spreads rapidly and is an evergreen, but can become invasive. Lilyturf is slightly taller with flowing, evergreen, grassy leaves. Red-Leaved mukdenia has foliage that turns from green to red.

Step 2

Prepare the soil for the plants. Almost all ground covers will do well with a well-drained location, so add in some peat-moss based topsoil if the area is waterlogged or heavy with clay. If soil is very light, add some organic compost to improve its ability to retain water.

Step 3

Dig up the entire area to be planted if it is large and free of tree roots; otherwise, simply dig holes for each individual plant and add some of the additional soil or compost mix to improve the soil.

Step 4

Place the plants so that the roots and base are covered and the stems are above the soil. Backfill each hole with a good, rich soil mix.

Step 5

Water the plants well. Check every few days and water again if the soil is dry, until the plants are well established.


  • The Reader's Digest All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening, pp. 28 - 33.
Keywords: ground cover in shade, shade gardening covers, growing ground covers

About this Author

Annie Mueller is a professional writer and blogger. Since 2003 she has written extensively on small business, finances, parenting, education and personal growth, and has been published on Financial Edge and many other websites. Mueller attended Missouri Baptist College and earned her Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in English from Mississippi State University.