Some popular varieties of shade-loving ground cover include the hosta family of plants, periwinkle, pachysandra and most varieties of ferns. What works best in your yard depends greatly upon soil conditions, amount of sunlight and surrounding vegetation.
Plants that prefer most or total shade also tend to prefer moist, well-drained soils to grow ideally. There are exceptions; golden star and ajuga, for example, are both capable of handling a wide variety of soil conditions, including mild drought. For those who prefer to add color or texture to their gardens' shady areas, periwinkle or sweet woodruff are good selections.