Pre-Planned Shade Garden Recipes for Success!

Pre-Planned Shade Garden Recipes for Success!

Shady garden filled with green perennials

Do you have a patch of shade and are not sure what will survive in those tricky conditions? There are so many shade garden plant options these days, and it can be overwhelming just to know where to start!

Not to fear! Here are some easy garden recipes for you using unique combinations of shade-loving plants that you may not have considered! Get your garden bench or hammock ready because this will become your new favorite respite from the sun and summer heat!

Getting Started

Often shade doesn’t have the most optimal conditions so choose plants best suited for your zone and situation. Whether it’s dapped and light shade or dark, dense cover, these garden plans will turn that shady spot into a dreamy spot!

Amend the soil with rich compost, add humus and organic matter if you have a dry environment, and be ready to add a thick layer of mulch! Soaker hoses will water deeply and lessen surface evaporation, plus you’ll not see the hoses.

For moist areas and wet sites, consider mounding or berming up the area to raise the roots above the water table. Especially if you have stagnant, standing water at times. Try improving the drainage by building up the area by 18 inches or so with some native soil from the area if it is needed. Always remember that you should not build up the soil over existing tree roots.

Don’t forget pathways and lighting! Water features, sculptures or tall urns - it’s your space so make it special! If this will be a seating area, remember that shade can go hand in hand with mosquitoes, so consider a few citronella candles. 

Shade Garden Design

No shade garden is alike, so here are several pre-planned gardens for the two main types of shade most landscapes encounter - dry shade and moist shade. All ready to dazzle all growing season! These combinations are adaptable to a wide range of growing zones!

Every garden needs a variety of heights and textures, colors and accents to really make it shine! Of course, you’ll want to choose plants that set each other off, last throughout the growing season, and fit your style too! 

Plant your site - is the area just a side strip or border, is it a large area under dense-shade trees, or is it a small corner at the rear of your property? You can easily turn these forgotten spots into the favorite part of the landscape with the right plan!

Create a seating area away from the hot sun, a destination path to a quiet nook, or a border garden where it’s just bare ground along a foundation. Turn that side yard or forgotten strip between buildings into a secret getaway!

Bold & Gold Shade Garden

Chartreuse greens and gold are unusual colors to find in a shade garden! Besides, you’ll want all the brightness and glitz possible for a gloomy area. 

Moist to Wet Shade:

Plants that will work will in moist shady conditions

Tuck this garden around your home’s shaded corner where the gutters drain, or in that low area that’s a bit soggy. Add layers of rocks and a waterfall if you can build up the area. Or create a ‘dry’ stream bed look that adds lightness to the gloom. 

Dry to Average Shade:

plants what will work will in dry shady conditions

Set up some fancy containers and garden art with a footpath winding through the middle, then set the area alight with dramatic lighting. This garden design can be used to create a dry shade Rock garden too!

Cool Calming & Tranquil Hues

Maybe you don’t want your shade garden to stand out and sparkle? Perhaps this is your meditation and Zen area where you go to unwind and decompress? If that’s the case, you’ll want the soothing colors of blues, lavenders, silver, grey and deep-green leaves. 

Moist to Wet Shade:

cool colored plants that work well in moist shady conditions

Add a pond with a fountain or small brook in a low area to help drain away excess water from moist soil to create a Rain Garden. Add some Bistro chairs and a table, and you’re ready to entertain and relax!

Dry to Average Shade

cooler colored plants that work well in dry shady conditions

Get your hammock or garden bench ready with a pot of iced tea and you’re ready for a relaxing nook for lazy afternoons, or a shaded area to take a break after working in the yard! 

These plants are very drought-tolerant once established and with a good layer of mulch to regulate moisture retention, your garden design will be a success!

Putting it together

Evergreens provide formal backdrops and year-round structure to any garden setting. Deciduous shrubs add height and blooms while perennials bring so much variety! Groundcover helps in so many different ways - from living mulch, moisture retention, to filling in bare spots!

Line the back of your garden in the evergreens for a structural 4-season backdrop. Add larger shrubs as focal points, group in threes as a specimen planting, or spread them out at even intervals for a formal look. 

Fringe these with a ring of shorter accents and fine-textured plants. Then, add some edging and fill in the bare spots with ground covers! 

Other shade lovers to consider

  • Vines: Climbing Hydrangea
  • Trees: White Fringe Tree, Japanese Maple & Canadian Hemlock 
  • Evergreens: Korean Rhododendron
  • Shrubs: Black Chokeberry
  • Perennials: Coral Bells, Bleeding Hearts, Astilbe & Hosta

Made in the Shade!

This is a unique microclimate within your landscape that offers so many interesting opportunities! While it may seem that there are so many plants to choose from, having simple recipe plans to build from certainly make it easier to find a starting point! 

Each of these plants will thrive in the full to partial shade, making them perfect for that spot in the landscape where you haven't been able to get anything else to grow.

Create your new shady outdoor room, enliven an overcast foundation, or fill in that troublesome area beneath large trees with lush color today! You’ll learn it’s easy if you follow’s recipes for success!

Happy Planting!

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