Create a Beautiful Shade Garden

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Just because your yard gets lots of shade doesn’t mean you can’t have a garden.  There are many varieties of plants and flowers that thrive in a shady environment.  In fact, when the weather is at its hottest, plants like shade just as much as people do!  If you’d like to create a shade garden in your yard, follow the guidelines below and in no time you’ll be relaxing in your shady, green oasis!

Shady Conditions

There are different variations of shade, so it’s important to know what kind of shade you have in your garden.  Your shade conditions may also change with the season – such as when a tree loses its leaves – so make sure you understand just how much shade you’re dealing with before you choose your plants.  For shade gardening, shade is determined by just how long the area goes without sunlight.

Partial Sun/ Partial Shade

Used interchangeably, these terms mean 3 to 6 hours of sun a day, usually in the morning or early afternoon.  If a plant as listed as partial sun, it means it’s more likely to need the minimal sun requirements, so keep that in mind when choosing.  If listed as partial shade, it likely needs a break from the sun in the hottest part of the afternoon, either from a tree or by planting on the east side of a building.

Dappled Shade

Dappled shade is the shade found under a a deciduous tree.  Woodland plants prefer this kind of sunlight over the direct sunlight they would get in a partial sun/ partial shade environment.

Full Shade

Full shade means less that 3 hours of sunlight a day.  It does not mean no sun at all.  There are few plants that can survive in the dark.  If you fear a location has no sunlight, consider removing lower tree branches to let more light through.


Shade plants have evolved in woodland environments, so the type of soil these plants will prefer is the type found there which is slightly acidic from decaying leaves.  Since dead plant life is not removed in a woodland situation, there is always a nice, thick layer of natural mulch conditioning the soil.  Try to recreate these conditions with rich soil and organic mulch.

Pest Control

Shady areas attract snails and slugs, so be vigilant about controlling them or they’ll eat your plants in no time.  You can hand pick them throughout the growing season or apply an organic insecticide such as Sluggo, found at your local garden center.

Plant Selection

Choosing plants that will survive in shade is obviously important.  Some varieties that will do well include Monkshood, Columbine, Astilbe, Blackberry Lily, Bugbane, Bleeding Heart, Barrenwort, Primrose, Meadow Rue, and Bluebells.  Ferns and hostas are also great plants found in woodland environments that will thrive in your shade garden.

The bottom line is – if you have a shady garden or a shady spot in your yard, don’t despair!  It’s possible to have a beautiful garden even in the shadiest conditions if you keep the guidelines above in mind when choosing plants and creating your garden.




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