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by Richard Colucci
(Staten Island, NY USA 10312)


Good afternoon and thank you for fielding my question. I reside in Staten Island, NY. The soil in our area is clay. I experience heavy runoff from rain where it is removing the soil base below the elevated deck in the rear & side of the home. There is of course no sunshine below the deck. I would like to spread some form of seed below the deck that would promote some form of growth so as to anchor the remaining soil and absorb any water. I just don’t know what to plant. I was told grass. Other folks recommend sunless plants of some sort. I am open to any suggestions you may have. In closing I thank you for your time and any suggestions.
Best regards,
Rich Colucci

Drought Smart Plants reply:

Hi Rich, interesting question. I would stay away from grass, as it’s going to be impossible to keep it alive for one thing as it requires full sun for best growth, and even if you did how would you keep it trimmed?

Depending on the height of the deck off the ground, which is hard to tell from the pictures, I would recommend ferns of some type. These grow in full shade, in exactly the type of soil that you say is there, and require virtually no care. However, these will only grow around the edges, as they do need light, just not bright sun. The only way these would be available is as a plant, sorry I don’t have a source for you. Native ferns such as Matteucchia strutheropteris, the Ostrich Fern is one of the easiest to grow, and might suit your project.

Other ideas are some of the very short ground cover plants such as Vinca minor (Periwinkle), or Ajuga (Bugle Weed). These choices all have good anchoring roots, yet won’t try and take over the world. Plants to shy away from due to their invasive habits are Lamium (Dead Nettle) and Hedera helix (Ivy). I hope this has given you some ideas of potential plants.

Good luck with your project,