Trees are wonderful ways of adding a little shade to your yard, but they can be hard on the grass. Most often, the area just underneath the tree is bare or filled with weeds. If you do manage to grow grass underneath it, you are faced with the challenge of trying to mow it.
An alternative to this problem is to plant an appropriate groundcover which typically require less maintenance when compared to grass once they have been established. There are even varieties that produce attractive flowers. If you are faced with that problem, here are a few hardy varieties of groundcover that you might consider.
Astilbes, also known as Meadowsweet and False Spiraea, produce white, pink, and red plume-like flowers that bloom throughout the summer. They are very easy to maintain and will not require any deadheading or staking. They need a moist, well-draining, rich soil. It is hardiest in USDA zones 4-8.
Bishop’s Goutweed, or Aegopodium podagraria, should only be grown where it can be contained. However, this makes it an excellent choice for areas where other plants have failed to grow. It grows about eight- to ten-inches high and has light green and white variegated leaves. White flowers are produced in the summer, but are not very noticeable. Because of its aggressive nature, this plant has been banned in several states.
Bugleweed, or Ajuga reptans, grows about four- to six-inches high and will produce spikes of blue, purple, or white flowers in the late spring. Leaf color varies from solid colors of dark green and bronze purple to variegated shades of dark green, white, and/or burgundy. It prefers a moist, well-draining soil. It is hardiest in USDA zones 3-9.
Foam Flowers, or Tiarella cordifolia, is native to North America. Its maple-shaped leaves are dark green leaves with a dark brown or burgundy stripe. In the spring, it will produce a large pinkish-white flower. It grows about six inches high. It is hardiest in USDA zones 4-9.
English Ivy, or Hedera helix, is a semi-evergreen plant with dark green leaves. Although typically seen growing up, it can make a very nice groundcover. It does not produce any noticeable flowers. It is hardiest in USDA zones 3-9.
Hostas come in a wide range of sizes–anywhere from three inches to three feet high-and colors–shades of green, blue, yellow, white, or a combination. They produce white or light purple flowers in the summer. It is hardiest in USDA zones 3-8.
Lamium is a drought-resistant evergreen that is both colorful and vigorous. It is available in variegated shades of green, purple, and white. It grows about four- to eight-inches high and produces small purple, pink, or white flowers in the late spring to early summer. It is hardiest in zones 3-9.
Periwinkles come in two major types: the Vinca major, which has large leaves, and the Vinca minor, which has smaller leaves. Both varieties typically have dark green leaves, although a few variegated varieties are available. They will produce white or dark lilac flowers in the spring and summer. It is very fast growing. It is a perennial plant in USDA zones 3-5, and a perennial in warmer zones.