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I have a very large, very shady back half of my back yard that seems to kill off anything green. No grass will grow and it just looks bare and ugly. The soil is mostly clay (so bad) and it slopes off into a creek so anything added to amend the soil seems to wash away every spring. Any suggestions for plants that might transform it into a better looking area?

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  1. There are many options for shady areas that you might want to consider. It all depends on the depth of your shade. If it’s light shade you’re dealing with, you might try goat’s beard (Aruncus), astilbe, ligularia, or heuchera. Plants that will grow in shade from partial to deep include bleeding heart (Dicentra), lysimachia, saxifraga, ajuga, euonymus fortunei (some), bergenia, bear’s breech (Acanthus mollis), Japanese aucuba, Japanese aralia (Fatsia japonica), hosta, lamium, and hellebore.

    As far as keeping your soil and soil amendments intact, you might try growing shade plants that also stabilize the soil, such as creeping liriope (Liriope spicata), sweet autumn clematis, dwarf periwinkle (Vinca minor), English ivy, or muhly grass, which has many beautiful types. Otherwise, your other option for stabilizing the soil is to build a retaining wall. Happy gardening!

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