The Sensible Gardener

The right plant in the right location with the right conditions

Shade garden ideas

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Good shade garden ideas: leopard plants, ferns and hostas

Leopard plants, ferns and hostas do well in the shade

Shade gardens are especially demanding for a number of reasons, namely the following:

  • Plants get their energy through photosynthesis, so they need sun in order to grow, and bear flowers and seeds. Less sun often means slower growth and less flowers.
  • Plants also need water and nutrients in order to grow. When your plants are in competition with big trees  with big root systems, the fight for water and nutrients is often in favor of the big trees.
  • Shaded yards are more likely to remain damp longer. Many plants don’t do very well in damp locations.
  • Grass doesn’t grow well in the shade. Even those grass varieties that are adapted to shaded locations need some direct sun, or they will give poor results and need to be resown every so often.

So, if you have a shaded yard, you need to develop your landscaping plan around shade garden ideas. Here are a few things to consider:

  • When choosing plants, you must select only those that are adapted to shaded locations.
  • The nice thing about perennials is that you don’t have start over with new plants every year. The bad thing, though, is that fewer perennials do well in shaded locations.
  • If you want your shaded garden to come alive with flowers and bright colors, you may be better off choosing annuals. Annuals give everything they have to their flowers and seeds, as their only chance of survival through the winter is to have offsprings that sprout up from their seeds.

Different shade garden ideas for different locations

Your shade garden ideas should be shaped by your yard and the specific conditions in each section of your yard. If your yard has the same conditions all over, then you don’t need to think too much about it. But in most cases, there are spots with light shade and others with denser shade. So this may give you the option of choosing light, medium and dense shade plants for specific spots on your yard. The denser the shade, the more limited the selection will be. And you can forget about growing a dense and healthy grass lawn in those spots where the shade is deep.

So, what you need to give shape to your shade garden ideas is more information on shade plants. For those shaded spots where your grass is looking poorly, we suggest you have a look at our grass replacement page. For more general information on how to give shape to your ideas, see our landscaping plans page.

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2 Comments

  1. Omg!!! This is a great sight! So many of my questions have been answered, about shade, conifers, designing, tree lists, plant types. I have been looking for months all over the internet, but most of the information is too basic, to general, and fall short of being helpful to a beginner gardener. Thank you so much. I feel like I’m going to have to read your entire sight, everything is so useful. I am moving into a new house in zone 9 soon with a 60 ft x 23 ft yard, a bit too small) north facing and would love to plant lots and lots of trees and shrubs. I am designing it myself hoping not to make mistakes, but there is soooooooooo much one must know! Thank you!!!

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