Groundcovers-Best Groundcovers for Dry Shade
One of the biggest challenges in shade gardening is growing plants under large trees. Plants must compete with tree roots for water and light. In addition, some areas of the country are drought prone. A judious selection of perennials that are well adapted to dry areas will keep your landscape looking the best year round.
It is possible to amend the soil that has less than perfect conditions. For either clay or sandy soil, consider adding 3-6" of organic matter
Best Plants for Dry Shade
Aegopodium - Fast spreading in normal conditions but will grow less aggressive in dry areas. Spread can be controlled by mowing.
Hellebore - comingles well with tree roots
Heuchera - some varieties better than others (villosa types are more drought tolerant)
Hosta - I've planted Hostas near the base of trees where there is a lot of root competition and have had great results
Houttuynia - Similar to Aegopodium in terms of vigor
Liriope - Use it as a border grass for dry shade
Pachysandra - Highly popular - it gets the job done
Tiarella - Competes well against tree roots
Vinca - suggest mulching to keep them happy
Tips on Growing in Dry Shade
Use a 3 inch layer of mulch which will help conserve moisture. Dry Shade plants need extra water to get established the first year, but after that can survive with less water unless in a high drought situation.