Groundcover for a Shady Backyard

Groundcover for a Shady Backyard

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Q: Quick question, likely followed by a request for professional services (thought low-budget); perhaps help with drawing a plan. My backyard MUST be repaired asap. The dog comes inside covered in fine, dry dirt. I would like to have a nice natural garden in back, with stepping stones and some raised beds - very casual. I may need to wait until my budget can accommodate it, however; for the immediate time, I need ground cover.

I found an interesting web site: http://www.stepables.com/. What do you think? With my crazy dog in the back already, could I buy one of these covers in some kind of "sod" form so it is already sprouted? Should I do one area at a time and cordon off that area while it takes hold? I'm clueless. I just cannot take the dirt in the house any longer! I want to work toward a longer term landscape plan, but this is the *now* project.
A.F., Williamsburg, Virginia

A:That area's very shady, right? Keep that in mind when you buy a groundcover. Of the ones on the list, the only one I know will work in shade is ajuga. The rest I'm not so sure about. We've also used dwarf mondo grass a few times.

The challenge in a dog run is getting the groundcover established. I can take YEARS! What do you do in the meantime? Could you cultivate moss? Moss over hard packed earth would be a great look and likely to be the fastest to establish. You'll want to get ALL the mulch and leaves off - you want bare dirt. Then just let the moss come in on its own. It won't take long, but you may have to pull a few stray weeds. How does that sound?
Joe Hertzler


Hertzler & George

 is a design, build and maintenance firm in Williamsburg, Virginia dedicated to the development of extraordinary gardens and properties.

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