How to Make a Shade Garden that is also that is beautiful, easy to maintain, as well as enjoyable.
Shade gardens can be the perfect solution to a location that gets little sun as well as a cozy spot for reading a book.
Simple shade garden ideas and tips.
This is a simple guide for creating a garden where there is limited light.
Planning your garden can include easy shade-friendly plants and flowers.
Did you read about How to Make a Balcony Garden?
Many balconies also have limited sunshine which makes these gardens also shade gardens.
Both this article on making a shade garden and that article about balcony gardening can be helpful for you!
Some shade gardens are made using created shade for the garden instead of using a tree or similar shade-maker. You can find a selection of kits for making the shade for a shade garden here.
Frequently asked questions about shade gardens.
A shade garden is a garden that does not get full sunlight during the day.
That is, instead of getting between six and eight hours of sunshine in an average day, a shade garden gets less hours of full sun or is located in a location without direct sunlight.
Shade gardens are commonly located under trees, on the northside of homes, or even be located between two large structures such as buildings. Many plants do well when planted in a shady location.
A shade garden can be a solution for location where there is an empty spot in a yard. Or, a shade garden can be a man-made spot to grow plants that do best in shade.
The good news about shade gardens is that they generally require less effort to maintain as they tend to not dry out as fast. Also, shade gardens can offer the perfect location for a garden bench, pond, or even a bird feeder.
Tips for starting a Shade Garden
Start by assessing the amount of sunshine that your shady area gets on average in a day. Take into account whether this amount of shade is stable or if it is dependant on factors such as something that creates the shade (like a tree with leaves).
More tips for you
- Decide on what you want to grow. Do you want plants that come back every year, flowers for just one season, or a combination of plants and flowers.
- Consider adding other elements to your shade garden such as a bird feeder , birdbath or garden bench for example.
- When planning your shade garden under a tree, remember that the tree will grow and that your garden can shrink as a result. Leave plenty of space for your growing tree if you have any doubt about how far away from the tree you want your plants to be.
How to choose the right location for a shade garden.
When choosing the right location for a shade garden, first consider the amount of space that you have to work with.
For example, if your shade garden will get its shade from a young tree, factor in the space that will be needed when the tree is full grown rather than in its current stage.
Here is what else to consider when planning out your shade garden location.
- Does the area get the minimum amount of light that is needed for plants to grow. While some plants can grow in shade, not many will grow when there is no light available.
- Drainage is always a consideration when planning a garden. Without proper drainage, While it may seem simple to prevent, root rot can eventually kill a plant if not prevented or treated.
- Before you start digging, notify your local utilities or local folks who need to know about digging. In many locations they will need to come out and mark the area so you do not dig up something vital...like your cables.
How to plan a shade garden layout.
There are several factors to consider when planning out your garden in the shade. It is a good idea to sketch it out before you get started, factoring in what else may be in your garden (rocks, statues, annual flowers, etc.).
Start your sketch by adding the things that are permanent such as driveways, walkways, or fences.
- Plan for differences in how much shade parts of the garden will get throughout the year. Some spots may get two hours of sunlight while others can get up to eight depending on the amount of shade and the time of year.
- If your garden is in its early stages, using both annual and perennial flowers is the best way to make sure that there is always something going on in your shady garden.
- Plan for non-living garden items such as rocks or statues. These items can offer interesting variety as well as something to look at when your seasonal plants go dormant.
- Consider creating a path or walkway using stepping stones to make your shade garden more interesting.
- Do your research to see what shade plants grow best in your area. Talk to the pros at your local gardening store or university extension if needed.
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How to plant a shade garden.
Take into account that if you are planting your plants under a tree there may tree roots that may get in the way when you prepare the soil. One way to work with this is to not dig into the soil and instead, use a planter to hold your plants.
Here are steps for planting in your garden.
- Prepare the soil properly as shade gardens tend to have soil that is more acidic and moist. You can also prepare your soil with compost or other organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.
- Plant the garden as you would with most other gardens. It is a good idea to refer to the directions that come with the plants as far as spacing and how deep to plant.
- Lastly, mulch and water to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. Water the garden regularly, especially when or if it gets dry outside.
Flowers that can work in a shade garden.
This is an annual flower that flower that comes in a variety of colors,
Pansies prefer cool weather and they prefer partial shade and regular watering.
2. Lily of the valley.
This is a flower that also enjoys cool weather and shade.
Lily of the valley is a nice choice especially where you need a bit of ground cover as it spreads.
There are many different kinds and colors of primrose.
Primrose works especially well as a border around a tree or a patio.
A super easy to grow flower that also enjoys shade.
Impatiens work well if you plant them in a container or in the ground.
This is a popular perennial choice and for good reason.
Hostas make good use of space, offer impressive leaves, and are both low-maintenance and drought-tolerant.
6. Coral Bells.
This is actually a flower that can live in shade and full sun.
Coral Bells are easy to grow and take care of and they are a colorful addition.
This is a perennial plant that also does well indoors.
Begonias come in a variety of colors and can be planted in containers or in the ground.
8. Bleeding heart.
When in full bloom, the flower actually looks like a heart with 'blood' dripping.
Bleeding heart is easy to care for and can do okay in drought conditions.
Herbs and other plants that can work in a shade garden.
Sage is a perennial herb that can tolerate partial shade. It is also a popular choice because of its savory flavor which can be used to make stuffing, poultry dishes, and sauces
This is a perennial herb that is also an aromatic member of the mint family. Rosemary has a strong, piney flavor and is used in many Mediterranean dishes.
Another member of the mint family, oregano has many culinary uses.
Oregano is easy to grow and it also spreads.
I can attest to chives being easy to grow.
Chives are a perennial herb, can tolerate partial shade, and they have a mild onion or garlic flavor making them a popular choice.
This is an herb that can add some variety to your garden.
Dill is an annual herb with a licorice-like flavor that can tolerate partial shade.
This does well outdoors or as a houseplant.
Coleus comes in a variety of colors and has impressive leaves as a result.
If you have or know of a cat, you probably already know about the uses for catnip.
Catnip grows well in sun or partial shade (especially in my shade garden..) and it is easy to grow.
This plant spreads as it grows which means that you may need to keep an eye on it.
On the other hand, ivy is an easy way to cover a wall or fence.
This is a perennial herb that can tolerate full shade. Mint is easy to grow and spreads,meaning that you may need to give it attention later on.
These plants often do well in a variety of locations.
There are many types of ferns that do well in the shade, such as maidenhair ferns, lady ferns, and ostrich ferns.
How to take care of a shade garden.
Because shade plants are shaded from much of the sunlight, they usually require less water than usual plants. However, if it has been dry and/or hot outside, it is a good idea to water even shade plants.
Here are other ways that you can take care of a shade garden.
- Mulch the garden to prevent weeds and to help hold on to the moisture.
- If you are having trouble with pets or animals getting into your flowers and plants, consider adding some kind of fencing.
- Regular maintenance that you would do for other plants as needed such as deadheading and weeding.
Expert Tip 👉 Deadheading is the process of removing seed heads to promote new growth. Simply pinch off flowers that are beginning to fade.
In case you missed something.
- Simple shade garden ideas and tips.
- Frequently asked questions about shade gardens.
- Tips for starting a Shade Garden
- How to choose the right location for a shade garden.
- How to plan a shade garden layout.
- How to plant a shade garden.
- Flowers that can work in a shade garden.
- Herbs and other plants that can work in a shade garden.
- How to take care of a shade garden.
How to Make a Shade Garden, a simple guide for creating a garden with limited light, including shade-friendly plants and flowers.
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