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Best Full Shade Ground Cover (2023 Update)

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If you’re looking for a way to beautify your garden or yard, a ground cover can be a great option. Not only do they offer a low-maintenance choice for landscaping, but they can also help prevent weeds from taking root. However, choosing the right ground cover can be a challenge, especially when you have a shaded area to fill.

Before you buy any full shade ground cover, there are a few factors you should consider. First, make sure you know your soil type, as some plants prefer certain conditions. You’ll also want to think about the amount of sunlight the area receives, as well as the moisture levels. Finally, consider the size of the space you’re filling, as some ground covers spread more than others.

If you’re unsure where to start, here are a few questions to think about: Are you looking for something that will stay green all year round, or are seasonal changes okay? Do you want a ground cover that flowers or one with interesting foliage? Would you prefer something that requires little to no maintenance, or are you willing to put in more effort with watering and pruning? With a little research and thought, you can find the best full shade ground cover option for your needs.

10 Best Full Shade Ground Cover

# Product Image Product Name Product Notes Check Price
1

Ideal for ground cover, edging, hanging baskets, and low-growing plants.

2

This product is ideal for covering low-growing areas with a perennial ground cover that produces pink flowers.

3

Ideal for adding color and coverage to gardens, lawns, and landscapes with a mix of wildflowers and ground cover plants.

4

This product is ideal for ground cover that can withstand high temperatures and low water conditions.

5

Ideal for erosion control, ground cover, lawn alternative, and as a food source for livestock.

6

The product is ideal for ground cover in hot and dry climates due to its heat and drought tolerance.

7

Seed packet ideal for planting wild creeping thyme in areas such as rock gardens, borders, or slopes.

8

The product is ideal for use as a mat-forming ground cover between flagstones.

9

Ideal for use as ground cover or lawn alternative, particularly in warm season climates.

10

This product is ideal for planting shade-tolerant, cascading ground cover in outdoor spaces.

Ideal for ground cover, edging, hanging baskets, and low-growing plants.

This product is ideal for covering low-growing areas with a perennial ground cover that produces pink flowers.

Ideal for adding color and coverage to gardens, lawns, and landscapes with a mix of wildflowers and ground cover plants.

This product is ideal for ground cover that can withstand high temperatures and low water conditions.

Ideal for erosion control, ground cover, lawn alternative, and as a food source for livestock.

The product is ideal for ground cover in hot and dry climates due to its heat and drought tolerance.

Seed packet ideal for planting wild creeping thyme in areas such as rock gardens, borders, or slopes.

The product is ideal for use as a mat-forming ground cover between flagstones.

Ideal for use as ground cover or lawn alternative, particularly in warm season climates.

This product is ideal for planting shade-tolerant, cascading ground cover in outdoor spaces.

1. Rock Cress Ground Cover – 5000 Seeds

Aubrieta Hybrida Hendersonii is an exceptional perennial that can thrive in USDA Zones 4 – 9. It is a beautiful low-growing flower that only reaches a height of 4 – 6 inches, making it perfect for rock gardens and as a container plant. The dainty purple blooms of Aubrieta can be seen from mid-spring to early summer, adding a pop of color to any landscape.

This ground cover is easy to care for and is deer-resistant, making it an excellent choice for gardeners who want to keep their gardens looking great without worrying about deer damage. Approximately 2,000 heirloom Aubrieta seeds are included in each package, which can cover up to 40 square feet. These seeds are easy to grow and should be kept moist until germination occurs in 14 – 21 days.

To ensure optimal growth, plant Aubrieta in well-draining soil, and place it in an area that receives full sun to partial shade. Trimming back the plant after blooming can help tidy its appearance and encourage a thick mounding habit.

2. Outsidepride Saxifraga Rose Robe Perennial Low Growing Ground Cover – 4000 Seeds

Saxifraga arendsii, commonly referred to as Moss Saxifraga, is an attractive, low-growing perennial ground cover that adds a pop of color to any garden. This particular variety, Rose Robe, features delicate, cup-shaped blooms in a gorgeous rosy pink shade that typically appear in early summer.

While Saxifraga can thrive in a range of climates, it prefers cooler temperatures and does not tolerate drought or high humidity well. In USDA zones 4-9, it typically only reaches a height of 6 inches. In warmer climates, it's best to provide some afternoon shade to promote optimal growth and health.

Once the blooms have faded, it's recommended to trim them back to maintain a neat and tidy appearance. Starting Saxifraga seeds is easy, and they can be sown directly outdoors in either the fall or spring. For every 2000 seeds, you can expect to cover approximately 40 square feet. To prepare a seedbed, loosen the top 2 inches of soil and remove any weeds. Gently press the seeds into the soil without covering them, and keep the soil moist until germination, which usually takes around 30 days when the temperature ranges from 59 – 68F.

When planting Saxifraga, it's important to space the plants 9-12 inches apart to promote healthy growth. This perennial thrives in full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Additionally, Moss Saxifraga is usually resistant to deer and can tolerate some light foot traffic.

3. Outsidepride Viola Johnny Jump Up Wild Flowers & Ground Cover Plants – 1/8 Lb

Johnny Jump-ups are a charming and graceful addition to any summer landscape. These low-growing wildflowers are perennials that only reach six inches in height and are grown from Viola seeds in USDA Zones 3-9. Depending on the temperature zone, they can grow in full sun to full shade. In southern climates, they may be too hot in sunny areas, while in northern zones, they may be too cold in shady areas.

Trimming Johnny Jump-ups back in the heat of summer will encourage another flush of blooms in the fall. These delightful flowers have been around for centuries and are native to the mountains of Spain and France. They are found growing in many temperate regions of the world and are widely admired for their bright little faces. Other common names for this flower include Wild Pansy and Heartsease.

Johnny Jump-ups are cool weather flowers that bloom in the spring, fade during the heat of summer, and often return with a new flush of flowers in the fall. They are not invasive, but rather easy to grow and self-sow once established.

To grow Johnny Jump-ups, sow Viola seeds directly outdoors in early spring or in the fall. Since the seeds are tiny, it is recommended not to cover them with more than 1/16 of an inch of soil. Thin the seedlings to six inches apart. These heirloom, non-GMO seeds prefer moist, rich soil, but are adaptable to a wide variety of soil types. It is recommended to sow 3 ounces per 1,000 square feet or 7 pounds per acre for optimal growth.

4. Succulent Stonecrop Seeds – Heat Tolerant Groundcover

Sedum acre is an exceptional drought-tolerant succulent ground cover plant, perfect for growing as a low perennial in USDA zones 4 – 8. It's a stunning plant that only reaches a modest height of 2 – 3 inches, making it one of the most diminutive ground covers available to purchase. The plant has beautiful, bright, yellow flowers that make it a delight to behold.

This variety of Sedum acre goes by many common names such as goldmoss stonecrop, goldmoss sedum, biting stonecrop, or wallpepper. It's a spreading plant but is not considered to be aggressive. Its roots are relatively shallow, so if it grows in an unwanted area, it is easy to pull out and manage.

Planting this heirloom, non-GMO perennial ground cover seed is easy. For effective coverage, sow approximately 5000 seeds to cover 100 square feet. Once established, this Sedum acre variety will require minimal watering, making it an excellent choice for areas with dry conditions.

5. Dutch Clover Seed – Ultimate Ground Cover

The White Dutch Clover Seed is a versatile and hardy perennial seed that serves various purposes, including erosion control, food plots, green manure crop, pasture mixtures, ground cover, and many others. It is an ideal choice for those looking to grow a low-maintenance, eco-friendly lawn alternative that is also suitable for deer food plots, erosion control, pasture mixtures, and cover crops across the country, spanning USDA zones 3 to 10.

One of the primary benefits of white clover is its ability to boost soil nitrogen levels by taking nitrogen from the air and fixing it in the soil. This process not only enriches the soil but also reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers, making it a sustainable choice for environmentally conscious individuals.

To grow White Dutch Clover, one can simply broadcast the seed on the prepared soil and rake it in lightly. It is crucial to keep the clover seed consistently moist until germination occurs, which typically takes around 14 days under temperatures of 65 to 70°F.

The recommended seeding rate for White Dutch Clover is 1/4 lb to 1/2 lb per 1,000 square feet or 8 to 10 lbs per acre. With these parameters, one can expect to grow a lush, green, and nitrogen-rich ground cover that requires little maintenance and provides multiple benefits to the surrounding environment.

6. Summer Glory Sedum Ground Cover – 1000 Seeds

Introducing Summer Glory, a stunning Sedum ground cover plant that boasts succulent leaves with toothed edges that turn reddish in the fall. This creeping perennial ground cover is perfect for creating a low-growing mat that spreads wider than it grows in height, reaching only 4-6 inches in height and spreading up to 6-10 inches.

The star of the show is the bright, star-like, dark pink blossoms that appear from July through September. This Sedum Spurium Stonecrop is a vigorous grower and can thrive in a wide range of soil types – from poor to rich – as long as the soil is well-drained. It's a versatile plant that can be grown in troublesome sites, and the best part is that even deer won't bother it.

For optimal growth, it's recommended to grow Summer Glory Sedum in full sun. If growing from seeds, sow indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost is expected. Use small pots or flats with sterile starter mix, pre-moisten the starter mix, and sow Sedum ground cover seeds on the surface. Press the seed into the moistened soil, and do not cover it. Keep the seeds moist but not saturated until they germinate. Water from the underside of the pots or use a spray bottle and lightly mist the seeds.

Once established, Summer Glory Sedum can be divided every 3-4 years for best performance. With 1000 seeds covering approximately 20 square feet, this colorful and carefree ground cover is a must-have for any garden. Don't miss out on the opportunity to add Summer Glory to your collection and enjoy its beauty year after year.

7. Wild Thyme Twin Pack – 20k Seeds

Seed Needs is a trusted source for high-quality seeds that are guaranteed to produce beautiful, healthy plants. They offer a variety of seeds that are intended for the current and the following growing seasons, all of which are stored in a temperature-controlled facility that is free of significant amounts of moisture.

One of the many benefits of choosing Seed Needs is that they offer generous quantities of seeds. This means that you can share with friends and family or save your extra seeds until the next season, if properly stored. Their packets are also designed with the consumer in mind, as they are both beautiful and informative. The packet displays a stunning illustration of the variety to be grown, along with detailed seed sowing information on the reverse side. The packet measures 3.25” wide by 4.50” tall, making it easy to store and transport.

Seed Needs is committed to providing their customers with high-quality, non-GMO seeds. The vast majority of their seeds are open-pollinated and heirloom, with the exception of a few hybrids. This ensures that the plants grown from these seeds will be healthy, flavorful, and free from harmful chemicals.

One of the most important aspects of seed quality is germination. Seed Needs packets contain some of the freshest seed available, direct from the growers. When sown correctly, you will begin seeing results in only a matter of days. This is due to the careful handling and packaging of the seeds, which are packed in tear-resistant and moisture-resistant packaging. This ensures that the seeds remain fresh longer than the competition, allowing you to get the most out of your purchase.

8. 10k Irish Moss Seeds: Perfect Ground Cover

Irish moss seed, also known by its Latin name Sagina Subulata, is a versatile and popular ground cover plant that thrives in either full sun or partial shade. It is a low growing plant that produces delicate white blooms during the summer months, making it a beautiful addition to any garden.

This plant is particularly unique in that it can be used as an alternative or substitute for traditional lawn cover. It is also ideal for planting in between stepping stones, creating a beautiful and practical pathway.

When planting Irish moss seed, it is important to keep the seeds continually moist until they germinate. This plant is suitable for USDA Zones 4 – 10 and will only reach a height of 2 – 3 inches when fully grown.

At Outsidepride, we are proud to offer the highest quality Irish moss seed available. Our customers love this plant, making it our most popular ground cover seed. To cover 100 square feet, we recommend sowing 5000 seeds and watching your own beautiful Irish moss plants grow.

9. Dichondra Repens: Low Maintenance Lawn Alternative.

Dichondra repens is a versatile and low-maintenance ground cover plant that can easily be established from seed. With its prostrate or creeping growth habit and circular leaves, it is a popular perennial in USDA Zones 7 – 11. This warm season fast-growing ground cover grows close to the ground, usually not exceeding 2 inches in height, and retains its striking green color even during winter temperatures as low as 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit with only slight leaf browning.

With a maximum height of only 2-3 inches, Dichondra repens is an ideal alternative to traditional lawns that require regular mowing. Its broad, almost circular leaves, which resemble clover, establish a dense carpet-like look when mowed low. It is now commonly used in many ground cover situations where normal grasses may not thrive. Its bright green color and soft feel underfoot make it a popular choice for landscaping areas that require little maintenance.

Dichondra repens, also known as Kidney Weed, Dichondra Pony Foot, or Lawn Leaf, is easy to maintain and does not require mowing when used in landscaping areas. However, when used in lawn situations, it can be mowed for an even, smooth finish. Many people use dichondra as a lawn alternative, and it can be mowed to the desired height. For the nicest appearance of dichondra, it is recommended to mow approximately every two weeks at a height of 1 1/2" – 2" during the summer months, and as low as 3/4" during the winter months.

Planting Dichondra repens is easy, requiring only 1 pound of seed per 500 square feet. These heirloom seeds are non-GMO, ensuring that you are getting a high-quality product that is both sustainable and environmentally friendly.

10. Shade-Tolerant Ivy Ground Cover – 8000 Seeds!

If you're looking for a beautiful and low-maintenance ground cover, Kenilworth Ivy might just be the perfect choice for you. With its scalloped leaves and charming lilac blooms, this plant is sure to add a touch of elegance to your garden.

One of the best things about Kenilworth Ivy is that it can thrive in full shade, making it a great option for areas of your garden that don't get a lot of sunlight. It also looks stunning when allowed to cascade down a stone wall or spill over the sides of containers.

This trailing vine is also a prolific self-sower, spreading its seeds all over the garden. To keep it more contained, it's recommended to deadhead the plant regularly. But don't worry – Kenilworth Ivy requires very little maintenance beyond regular watering and occasional trimming.

If you're interested in growing Kenilworth Ivy from seed, it's best to start indoors about 10 weeks before the last frost is expected. Use starter trays and sow the seeds on the surface of sterile soil, gently pressing them into the soil without covering them. These seeds need light to germinate.

Once the danger of frost has passed, you can transplant the young plants into your garden. Keep in mind that approximately 2000 seeds will cover 40 square feet, so plan accordingly.

Kenilworth Ivy is also known by other names such as Linaria Cymbalaria, Ivy-Leaved Toadflax, and Coliseum Ivy. With its low-maintenance nature and beautiful appearance, this ground cover is sure to be a great addition to your garden.

Best Full Shade Ground Cover FAQs

Are there any full shade ground covers that are also drought-tolerant?

Yes, there are several full shade ground covers that are also drought-tolerant. One option is the Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens), which is a low-growing evergreen plant that thrives in full shade and is highly drought-tolerant once established. Another option is the deadnettle (Lamium maculatum), which is a fast-spreading ground cover with variegated foliage and small, colorful flowers. It is also tolerant of full shade and drought conditions. Additionally, the barren strawberry (Waldsteinia ternata) is another great choice for full shade and drought tolerance. This plant produces bright yellow flowers in the spring and summer and has glossy green leaves that remain evergreen throughout the year. All of these ground covers are great options for those looking to add some greenery to their shaded areas while also conserving water.

Can I plant full shade ground covers in areas with heavy foot traffic?

It depends on the specific ground cover species you choose and the level of foot traffic in the area. Some full shade ground covers, such as periwinkle and sweet woodruff, can withstand moderate foot traffic. However, if the foot traffic is heavy, it may be best to choose a more durable ground cover, like creeping thyme or creeping phlox. It's important to also properly prepare the soil before planting and provide adequate water and nutrients to help the ground cover establish and thrive. Additionally, adding mulch or stepping stones can help protect the ground cover from excessive foot traffic. Overall, it's important to select a ground cover that is well-suited for the specific growing conditions and level of foot traffic in the area.

How do I care for and maintain full shade ground covers in my garden?

Full shade ground covers can be a beautiful addition to any garden, but they require proper care and maintenance to thrive. Here are some tips on how to care for and maintain full shade ground covers in your garden:

1. Watering: Full shade ground covers need to be watered regularly, especially during hot and dry weather. Make sure to water deeply, but avoid overwatering as this can cause root rot and other diseases.

2. Fertilizing: Fertilize your ground covers with a slow-release fertilizer in the spring and mid-summer. This will help promote healthy growth and keep the plants looking lush.

3. Pruning: Regular pruning is essential for full shade ground covers to maintain their shape and prevent them from becoming too dense. Trim back any dead or damaged leaves and stems to promote healthy growth.

4. Mulching: Mulching around your ground covers will help retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plants, but be careful not to cover the leaves.

5. Pest control: Keep an eye out for pests such as slugs and snails, which can damage your ground covers. Use organic pest control methods or handpick the pests to keep them under control.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your full shade ground covers thrive and provide a beautiful addition to your garden for years to come.

How do I choose the best full shade ground cover for my specific soil type?

Choosing the best full shade ground cover for your specific soil type can be quite challenging. The first step is to identify your soil type, whether it is sandy, loam, or clay. Once you have identified your soil type, you can research ground covers that are suitable for that type of soil.

Some full shade ground covers that thrive in sandy soil include creeping juniper, creeping phlox, and moss. For loamy soil, you may want to consider Pachysandra terminalis, Vinca minor, or lily of the valley. On the other hand, clay soil is well-suited for Ajuga, deadnettle, or Lamium maculatum.

It is also essential to consider other factors such as the amount of sunlight, moisture, and drainage in the area. It is recommended to choose ground covers that can tolerate a range of growing conditions.

Additionally, make sure to research the growth habits of each ground cover species and choose one that is appropriate for the area's size and shape. Finally, consider the maintenance requirements of each ground cover and choose one that is low-maintenance and easy to care for.

What are some alternative full shade ground cover options to traditional grass?

If you're looking for an alternative to traditional grass for full shade areas, there are several ground cover options to consider. Here are some options:

1. Hostas: These plants are known for their large, lush foliage and thrive in shady areas. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, making them a versatile choice for ground cover.

2. Creeping Jenny: Also known as "moneywort," this low-growing plant is ideal for filling in shady spots. Its bright green foliage makes it a popular choice for adding color to a garden.

3. Foamflower: This plant produces delicate, white or pink flowers in the spring and has attractive, heart-shaped leaves. It grows well in full shade and is often used as a ground cover in woodland gardens.

4. Periwinkle: This plant produces small, blue or purple flowers in the spring and summer and has glossy, dark green leaves. It's a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of soil conditions and is often used to prevent erosion on hillsides.

5. Pachysandra: This evergreen plant has glossy, dark green leaves and produces small, white flowers in the spring. It's a great option for filling in shady areas and can tolerate a range of soil conditions.

These are just a few of the many ground cover options available for full shade areas. When selecting a ground cover, consider factors such as soil type, moisture levels, and maintenance requirements to ensure that you choose the best option for your specific needs.

What are some full shade ground covers that are also deer-resistant?

If you're looking for full shade ground covers that are also deer-resistant, there are a few options to consider. Here are some of the best choices:

1. Lenten rose (Helleborus) – These plants are evergreen and produce beautiful blooms in late winter and early spring.

2. Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) – This plant has tiny white flowers and a sweet fragrance. It also spreads easily, making it a great option for large areas.

3. Deadnettle (Lamium) – This plant has variegated foliage and produces pink or purple flowers in the spring.

4. Foamflower (Tiarella) – This plant has beautiful foliage and produces small white or pink flowers in the spring.

5. Barrenwort (Epimedium) – This plant is evergreen and produces delicate flowers in the spring.

All of these ground covers are deer-resistant and can thrive in full shade. Just be sure to choose the right plant for your specific growing conditions and climate.

What are some low-maintenance full shade ground cover options?

If you are looking for low-maintenance ground cover options for full shade areas, there are several plants you can consider. One of the most popular options is the Vinca Minor, also known as Periwinkle. It is a fast-growing evergreen ground cover that produces beautiful blue or purple flowers in the spring. Another great option is Pachysandra Terminalis, which is a hardy perennial that spreads quickly and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.

If you want a ground cover that requires even less maintenance, consider using moss. Moss is a great option for full shade areas, as it doesn't require much water or sunlight to grow. It is also very low-maintenance and doesn't require any fertilizer or pruning. Another option is Sweet Woodruff, which is a low-growing plant that produces small white flowers in the spring. It is very easy to grow and can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.

Overall, there are several low-maintenance ground cover options for full shade areas. By choosing the right plants, you can create a beautiful and hassle-free garden that requires minimal upkeep.

What are the best full shade ground cover plants for my garden?

When it comes to full shade ground cover plants for your garden, there are a variety of options to choose from. Some of the best choices for full shade include hostas, astilbes, ferns, and foamflowers. Hostas are a popular choice because they come in a wide range of colors and sizes, and they also have beautiful foliage. Astilbes are another great option, as they produce beautiful plumes of flowers that thrive in shady conditions. Ferns are a classic option for full shade, as they are easy to grow and require little maintenance. Finally, foamflowers are a unique plant that produces delicate flowers and thrives in both full shade and partial shade. Ultimately, the best full shade ground cover plants for your garden will depend on your personal preferences and the specific growing conditions in your yard.

What are the pros and cons of using moss as a full shade ground cover?

Moss can be an excellent choice for a full shade ground cover due to its unique characteristics. One of the main benefits of using moss is that it requires very little maintenance. Unlike other ground covers, moss does not need to be mowed, fertilized, or watered regularly, making it an eco-friendly option. Additionally, moss provides a natural and attractive appearance to any landscape, adding to its aesthetic value.

However, there are also some drawbacks to using moss as a ground cover. One of the primary concerns is that moss does not tolerate heavy foot traffic well. This means that it may not be the best option for high-traffic areas or areas where children and pets frequently play. Additionally, moss can be difficult to establish and may require specific soil conditions to thrive. Finally, since moss is a non-flowering plant, it may not attract pollinators like bees and butterflies, which can be a disadvantage for some gardeners.

In summary, moss can be an excellent choice for a full shade ground cover due to its low maintenance, natural appearance, and eco-friendliness. However, it may not be suitable for high-traffic areas or areas where pollinators are desired, and it can be difficult to establish.

What is the best ground cover for full shade under trees?

When it comes to selecting the best ground cover for full shade under trees, there are several options available that can thrive in these conditions. One of the most popular options is the hosta plant, which is known for its large foliage and low maintenance needs. Another great option is the pachysandra plant, which is a low-growing evergreen that can spread easily and create a dense carpet of greenery. Other options to consider include ajuga, vinca minor, and lamium, which are all shade-tolerant and can provide a lush ground cover in dark areas. It's important to choose a ground cover that is well-suited to the soil type and moisture levels in your specific location to ensure success. Additionally, it's a good idea to choose a ground cover that is non-invasive and won't compete with the tree roots for nutrients. By selecting the right ground cover and providing proper care, you can create a beautiful and functional landscape under your trees.

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