Planting a Shade Garden
Turn that unused area into something beautiful.
On Hot Summer Days, Nothing Beats a Shade Garden
When you see heat rippling off the pavement, and just walking around the yard makes you break into a sweat, you can feel instant relief when you retreat into your shade garden. Those areas under tree canopies, between buildings, and on the north side of your house are ideal for creating a little oasis of cool air in summer. With the right plants, design, and soil, your dream of a shady retreat can become a reality.
Shade Presents Some Problems
Shady areas have different conditions than sun gardens, other than less sun. The air is more humid and cooler. The ground can be full of tree roots or heavily compacted. You may even have several microclimates to deal with. Your best bet is to analyze your space well, and choose the best plants, hardscaping, and accent pieces for what you have.
How Shady Is Your Shade?
Not all shade is the same. Maybe your area has little dapples of sunlight throughout the day, which would make for light shade. Light or partial shade gives you the widest range of plant choices. Full shade, with little or no direct sun at all, gives you fewer options for plants. Take note of your type of shade before you spend money on plants.
Improve Your Soil
Shady spots are more humid and have less air circulation than sunny gardens. So disease can be a problem. You want your plants to be as healthy as possible, and that starts with their soil. If you have weeds or grass where you're putting your garden, knock them out with a control product such as Roundup® Weed & Grass Killer. After a few days, work in organic material, such as humus or sphagnum peat moss. Organic material in the soil helps promote air circulation around the roots and provides important nutrients. Miracle-Gro® Enriched Sphagnum Peat Moss and Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil are good choices for this.
Choose Your Plants
This is where the real fun begins. First, look for a variety of plants that thrive in the amount of shade you have. Then mix it up with different heights and color options that will add layers to your future shade garden. Finish off the design with low-growing border plants or groundcovers to fill in the gaps. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Plants for partial shade
- Bleeding hearts
- Coral bells
Plants for full shade
- False spirea
- Toad lily
- Solomon's seal
Fast-growing shade trees
When you need to create a cool oasis in a sun-drenched yard, consider planting trees that grow quickly. Here are just a few options for beautiful trees known for their fast growth. When choosing a shade tree, take into account its mature size and shape so you don’t run into issues years down the road.
- Quaking aspen
- Silver maple
- Tulip tree
- Hybrid poplar
Of course, there are many more trees for you to choose from. If you need help deciding, reach out to an arborist or your local extension office to find out which shade trees grow well in your area.
Planting: Where the Magic Begins
Once your soil is amended feel free to start planting. When you put your plants in the ground, sprinkle some Miracle-Gro® Shake n' Feed® All Purpose Plant Food, which will feed them for up to 3 months. Just be sure to put plants together that have the same watering needs. That will help cut down on future maintenance. Water regularly and weed, and you'll have a lush, inviting shade garden.