Ideal cover for a shady, sandy sideyard overtaken by moss?


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Hello,

I have a pretty simple question which requires some background info, so please bear with me:

I've got a shady sideyard (North side of the house on a forest margin) with very poor, sandy soil. (I am in the non-mountainous, non-coastal part of Virginia, USA, in Zone 7). It used to have some sporadic grass and some wildflowers (mostly bluets, occasional clumps of purple deadnettle, wild violets), but in recent years has been taken over by moss. I would like to plant some kind of native plant— ideally good forage for honey bees, as I'm getting a hive in mid-April— which I'd leave for two or three seasons, to outcompete the moss, then plow under to add organic matter to the poor soil. Then I'd put down probably a wildflower mix.

My question is: what plant do I use? Sweetclover would be ideal, except that it doesn't tolerate shade. Would phlox work? Maybe Joe Pye weed? I want to avoid asters if possible, because while bees will eat it, it smells like old socks while they're curing it in the hive, and I am a new beekeeper and don't want to have to wonder if I'm smelling aster nectar or foulbrood disease every time I open them up.

If this is the wrong subforum, I apologize, and please redirect me!
 
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I just ordered three of these for the same reason (except the bees) for a shade problem area I have. I do have ferns growing there, but would like a little pop too.
http://www.waysidegardens.com/kirengeshoma-palmata/p/36642/

Here's another that would go well with the first plant due to bloom times, which has also grabbed my interest.
http://www.waysidegardens.com/spotted-geranium/p/36686/

Edit: Just realized you posted this in lawns. Are you looking strictly for ground cover? Also note, Joe-Pye weed does not do well in shade. I did try tho, but moved it the following year.
 
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I just ordered three of these for the same reason (except the bees) for a shade problem area I have. I do have ferns growing there, but would like a little pop too.
http://www.waysidegardens.com/kirengeshoma-palmata/p/36642/

Here's another that would go well with the first plant due to bloom times, which has also grabbed my interest.
http://www.waysidegardens.com/spotted-geranium/p/36686/

Edit: Just realized you posted this in lawns. Are you looking strictly for ground cover? Also note, Joe-Pye weed does not do well in shade. I did try tho, but moved it the following year.
I think I'm looking primarily for groundcover, yeah; this is a pretty large stretch, maybe... thirty feet by ten? I thought I had a great solution with sweet clover, since I can order that seed by the pound, but it really requires full sun.

A legume like some kind of vetch might do it. Does anybody have experience with that, or is that more of a question for a farmer?
 
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The only other plant that comes mind for your situation, would be Vinca Minor. They normally sell it in flats, but it does spread out rather quickly.
 
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Maybe you could consider Geranium macrorrhizum - or nodosum with Ajuga reptans, Heuchera, and Tiarella...there is a Tiarella called ''Running Tiger'' that might fit the bill. Another idea might be a grass - like Anemanthele lessonia to add some structure, and Alchemilla mollis
As Licenter mentioned the Vincas will grow anywhere, and only this morning I found lots of it in the woods where I was walking my dogs - and that was very shady.
 
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Those are great suggestions, especially the vinca (we've got a bunch growing wild in the woods— Virginia classifies them as invasive, but low-risk, such that I don't feel any need to disturb them). I have found a solution, which hinges entirely on the fact that I am very new to this:

Turns out the site is not actually what would be defined as "shady"; I thought the afternoon shadow from the house constituted less than full sun, when in actuality, the plot is in full, direct sun for almost eight hours a day. Since this is the case, I'm going with a mix of legumes, which I'll mow and plow under after a season or two for use as green manure. I decided to go with white and yellow sweetclovers, partridge pea, and showy ticktrefoil.

Thanks for all your help; I'm sure I will need it again (though hopefully I will be capable of asking the right questions next time!)
 
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Those are great suggestions, especially the vinca (we've got a bunch growing wild in the woods— Virginia classifies them as invasive, but low-risk, such that I don't feel any need to disturb them). I have found a solution, which hinges entirely on the fact that I am very new to this:

Turns out the site is not actually what would be defined as "shady"; I thought the afternoon shadow from the house constituted less than full sun, when in actuality, the plot is in full, direct sun for almost eight hours a day. Since this is the case, I'm going with a mix of legumes, which I'll mow and plow under after a season or two for use as green manure. I decided to go with white and yellow sweetclovers, partridge pea, and showy ticktrefoil.

Thanks for all your help; I'm sure I will need it again (though hopefully I will be capable of asking the right questions next time!)
The moss indicates acid soil, counter with 4oz garden lime psqyd
 

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