En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Low maintenance, shade tolerant groundcover for Pacific Northwest

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - August 09, 2012

From: Kenmore, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Plant Lists, Erosion Control, Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant
Title: Low maintenance, shade tolerant groundcover for Pacific Northwest
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What's a good low maintenance, shade tolerant ground cover for the Pacific Northwest? It needs to have good erosion control, too.

ANSWER:

There are several excellent sources to help you choose your plants.  Your county, King County, has a Native Plant Guide with plant lists and How-to articles.  The Washington Native Plant Society has a page, Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects, with plant list categories which includes a list for Groundcovers:  Evergreen, Deciduous.  Here are suggestions from these sources for shade tolerant groundcovers with additional information from our Native Plant Database:

Linnaea borealis (Twinflower) is evergreen and here is information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Mahonia nervosa (Cascade barberry) is evergreen and here is information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Achlys triphylla (Sweet after death or Vanilla leaf) and here is information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger) and information from Washington Native Plant Society and from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Cornus unalaschkensis (Bunchberry) although not evergreen, it is perennial with rhizomes that will aid in erosion control.  Here is information from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide.

Polystichum munitum (Western swordfern) is evergreen and grows to 3 feet but could function in a groundcover area.  Here is information from King County Northwest Native Plant Guide and from Washington Native Plant Society.

You can find more possibilities in Native plants for deep shade on the King County Northwest Native Plant Guide page.

Washington State University Extension's Gardening in Western Washington has links to publications, fact sheets and websites that you might find helpful.

 

From the Image Gallery


Twinflower
Linnaea borealis

Sweet after death
Achlys triphylla

Canadian wild ginger
Asarum canadense

Western swordfern
Polystichum munitum

More Groundcovers Questions

Native ground cover for Fort Lauderdale, FL.
November 02, 2010 - I just moved into a duplex with a narrow back yard with dark sandy soil and no irrigation system. I travel and am looking for a hardy ground cover that can take heat, drought and limited sun between 1...
view the full question and answer

How to combat weeds growing in mulch
September 12, 2008 - Trying to decide on either ground cover plants, or some type of gravel. We have a new house where the builder has planted small shrubs in the full sun flower bed next to house. The bed has mulch at th...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for gravesite in Maryland
March 13, 2013 - I know this is very unusual question but here I go. I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and I am looking for a low ground cover for my grandparents grave. The soil is very sandy and I am looking...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for wildlife in Virginia
March 01, 2009 - Looking for a good ground cover to replace what we've got growing in front of our condo in Northern Virginia. Something to provide cover for the birds and their fledgelings in the spring and summer, ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center