I have a shady area of my yard in Montgomery County where grass won’t grow. What should I plant instead of grass?
The type of cover you use depends on the type of environment you have to deal with. Depending on the area in questions light and water conditions, a ground cover would work better in that location over lawn grass. Ground cover is described as a low growing plant that covers the ground, and adds to the overall appearance of the landscape.
*The term ground cover encompasses (but is not limited to) plants like:
- Pachysandra: plant is a shrubby, evergreen ground cover which grows 8-12" high and spreads to form a dense carpet of rich, dark green foliage. Oval leaves appear primarily in whorls at the stem ends. Tiny white flowers in 1-2" long spikes bloom in early spring. Flowers are not particularly showy, but on close inspection are quite attractive. This evergreen perennial is native to the southeastern United States. White to pink flowers appear in early spring. Prefers moist soil.
- Liriope: Commonly called "Lilyturf' or "Blue Lily Turf", is a tufted, tuberous-rooted, grass-like perennial which typically grows 12-18" tall and features clumps of strap-like, arching, glossy, dark green leaves. The showy flower spikes have tiered whorls of dense, violet-purple flowers that rise above the leaves in late summer. Flowers give way to blackish berries which often persist into winter. Prefers partial or full sun and well-drained soil. It is a deer-resistant ground cover.
- Alumroot (Rock Geranium): these plants have palm-shaped or lobed leaves on long stems, and a thick, woody root system. Best grown in organically rich, humusy, dry to medium moisture, moist to well-drained soils, in full sun to part shade. Some verities are native to Maryland.
- Epimedium (Barrenwart): is characterized by 4-petaled, "spider-like" flowers hanging in clusters in shades of yellow, beige, pink, lavender, purple, red, or white, and bloom from spring to early summer. New leaves emerge with bronzy pink edges before turning green in summer. There are evergreen and deciduous species. Thrives in full to partial shade with rich, well-drained soil.
- Sarcococca (Sweet Box): Commonly called "Sweetbox", this plant is a low-growing, broadleaf evergreen shrub that can grow to 5' tall that spreads, albeit slowly, by underground root runners over time in shady areas of the landscape. Has lustrous, leathery, dark green leaves and tiny, tubular, fragrant, white flowers that bloom in March-April. Female flowers give way to globose, shiny, black fruits. Best grown in organically rich, acidic, moist, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade.
- Christmas Fern: This native Maryland fern stays green all winter. Its distinctive fronds are sometimes used in holiday decorations. Is an excellent choice for shaded gardens as it happily thrives under trees and rocky areas. Though it prefers partial shade, the Christmas fern also tolerates direct sun if the soil is kept damp. The fern typically grows in a fountain-like clump to 2' tall and features leathery, lance-shaped evergreen fronds.Young fiddleheads (or crosiers) are silvery and scaled, and are typically found in the spring.
What is the difference between “softscape” and “landscape”?
The terms "softscape" and "landscape" are synonymous with each other, meaning the planted or living aspects of your project; the plants and flowers that you would like installed.
Summer 2013- landscaping installed in NW Washington, DC, shown below.
What does the word “landscaping” mean and what does landscaping work entail?
The Landscaping aspect of a project is the "soft," or living, things in your project such as plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers. Landscaping entails installing the desired new plants and maintenance of existing ones. As well as mulching and watering those areas to ensure a healthy yard or planter bed.
Onley Gardens Nursery, Silver Spring MD; one of the distributor of plants for East Coast Landscape Design jobs, pictured below.