ground cover that can be cut down as I have young grand-children

(Question)

Yard size, 25 deep 65 wide
Two big beech trees
heavy shade with little direct sunlight
can grow grass in spring but gone by mid summer
slight grade in yard
looking for a ground cover seed that might work unless you have a better idea.
Live in Oshawa.
Also if any suggestions on where I can purchase items

(Answer)

Thank you for your inquiry,

Although a grass lawn has the advantage of with standing heavy foot traffic, which makes it an excellent choice for your grand children’s’ games, there are many reasons why you might like to replace the lawn; constant re-seeding being one of them.

Ground covers come in a variety of forms and sizes and when planted close together will fill in enough to give solid coverage. Ground covers aid in cooling the soil, reducing water requirements, stabilizing the soil, preventing erosion and reduceing weed growth.  In addition, they can act as a habitat and food source for birds.

You don’t mention wether you are looking for plants that will grow in dry or moist shade. The following are some groundcovers you might wish to consider:

Ajuga reptans (carpet bugle), This plant forms a low-growing, spreading ( sometimes to the point of invasiveness) ground cover with attractive dark green or purplish-green foliage. Spikes of blue flowers appear in late spring.  Ajuga tolerates dry conditions and partial to full shade.  Some attractive cultivars are ‘Multicolour’, ‘Burgundy Glow’ and ‘Metallica Crispa’

Galium odoratum, (sweet woodruff,) is another creeping perennial suitable for shaded woodland conditions: its glossy emerald green leaves and scented white star-shaped flowers make an attractive carpet.  It is less tolerant of dry conditions.

Creeping wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, is another evergreen perennial that requires regular moisture, will tolerate shade and moist acidic soil.  Plants form a low, spreading mat of rounded, glossy green leaves. The foliage turns bronze in the winter. This plant is slow to spread.

Asarum canadense (Wild Ginger) is another possible candidate. Asarum is generally slow to get established but once they take hold they will spread by rhizomes just below the soil surface to create a beautiful ground cover. For Gingers to thrive, they should be planted in moist, humus rich, slightly acidic, well-drained soil.

Some groundcovers to consider for dry shade are barrenwort (Epimedium), geranium (Geranium macrorhizum), and Japanese spurge (Pachysandra)

You may wish to read Lawn Alternatives guide that the Toronto Master Gardeners has published for additional ideas. As well, check out our gardening Guide on Broadleaf Evergreen Groundcovers for a list of suggestions.

You may wish to check out your local garden center or Farmer’s Market for  seed source availability.

Good Luck with your project.