Not sure how to make the shady areas of your yard attractive? You can still make north facing or less sunny locations in your yard stunning and show-stopping by selecting the right shade plants and hardscapes.
The shady areas of your yard tend to be cooler, and the soil retains moisture longer, so selecting plants that tolerate this microclimate is key. For depth and beauty, mix and match shade-tolerant annuals, perennials, and shrubs to make every part of your yard enjoyable this summer.
If you’re not sure which plants will thrive in your yard, give one of our landscape designers a call. They can recommend the right plants based on your soil type and available sunlight. A quick tip when selecting plants — full shade means less than 2 hours of sun a day whereas partial shade means 2–4 hours of sun per day.
We love our new landscaping done by Rock Solid! A beautifully designed combination of rock and mulch gardens, paver and boulder borders, with a colorful variety of perennial plants, shrubs, and grasses. We get a lot of compliments from neighbors!
– Jodi & Scott S.
Tips for Designing an Attractive Shade Garden
Plant a Variety of Color and Texture
Create contrast and a bold statement by combining plants of different colored foliage. For example, combine a broad-leaf leopard plant (Ligularia) with a tall golden meadow rue for varying leaf texture, color and height. We also suggest selecting some brilliant yellow and gold grasses to add brightness to the darker areas of your landscape.
Often short plants are planted underneath tall shady trees. However, varying the heights of your plants will also add depth and intrigue to your garden.
For color contrast, Hostas are a favorite of the shade-loving plants. Their foliage comes in many different colors. We suggest planting a variegated green/yellow Liberty variety with a blue/green Humpback Whale variety for pops of foliage color.
Plant En Masse
En masse means planting the same species of plant close together to create a swath of that particular plant. Most plants standout more in large groups rather than individually. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to plant all the same variety of a species. Plant several different varieties of the annuals: coleus, impatiens, or begonias near each other to group and add a stunning visual display.
There are also multiple varieties and colors of the Astilbe, which is a taller perennial that thrives in part-sun to shade environments. The tall plume-like blooms bring the eye upward when planted next to some ground cover.
For easier maintenance, plant ground cover that crowds out weed growth. Also, ground cover is a great substitute for those areas in your yard where grass just won’t grow or thrive. Some examples of ground cover that thrives in low-light are creeping jenny, golden sedum, and Limon’ jewels of opar. Not only do these plants help in maintenance, but they also add a golden carpet of color.
Other Shade-Loving and Part-Sun Plants
Shrubs and perennials such as azaleas and bleeding hearts have beautiful pink flowers that add pops of color. Hydrangeas are another shrub that have large pillowy blooms that can tolerate part-sun locations. Dogwood can also thrive in part sun and has beautiful red or yellow bark in the winter.
Ferns are a shade loving staple and adds instant texture to a shade garden. Their fine leaves pair wonderfully with a broad leaf such as a Hostas or purple coleus.
Landscape Features to Create a Shade Garden Oasis
A shade garden is more than its plants. To add richness and detail to your backyard oasis, consider adding the following landscape features:
1. Use containers to add layers
Just as terracing can add layers to your garden, so can different sized containers. Or consider installing a post to hang your containers for a vertical component. The other benefit of containers is that you can move them if different light is required throughout the season.
2. Install art features
Planting hedges or boxwood around sculptures and other art features creates visual appeal and sophistication to your yard.
3. Add a water feature
Water features promote tranquility, enhance any landscape design, and add to the value of your yard and patio. The water also reflects any light that dapples the surface adding luminosity to your shaded area.
4. Use various materials to create a lovely garden path
In those “difficult to grow” places, create a path that leads to a relaxing bench or seating area. This creates a cool retreat to visit on those hot summer days.
If you’re thinking about upgrading your landscape design or adding a water feature, feel free to contact one of our specialists to get a free estimate and advice on what will work in your yard.