Plans found: 19,000+
Need more options?
Advanced Search

Shady Plants and Gardens

   E-mail this article to a friend.

Jennifer Jones  by Jennifer Jones

Much of the beauty of gardens is created by contrasts of light and shadow as they are filtered over an area. Many gardeners have difficulty filling in those shaded spaces with the proper plants. Not only will gardening in the shade cover up those hard-to-grow empty areas, but it will also enhance your outdoor living space.

shady front yard with beautiful landscaping

The first thing a gardener should do is determine how much of their garden is in the shade, and how it changes throughout the day and the year. Once the area has been determined, it is a good idea to sketch out your garden. Mark the places where each particular plant should go. Remember to keep in mind the direction on the shade at different times. Defining the planting area will also help incorporate other landscaping opportunities such as mulching and rock.

shady garden with water feature

View This House Plan

View Other Craftsman House Plans

The next step is to understand which plants will thrive in the particular amount of shade you have in your garden. Some plants and flowers will require varying degrees of exposure to the sun and light to survive. Others can survive without any direct exposure to sunlight at all. A combination of perennials, shrubs and trees will bring color and texture to any shady area.

shady backyard with waterfall


View This House Plan To The Left

View Other European House Plans

Here are some popular plant types that do especially well in shaded areas:

Hosta are popular perennials thanks to their dense qualities. They can grow a foot high or even taller and they have beautiful foliage. They can be impressive as borders planted in rows or around the base a tree. Although they are best known for their foliage, Hostas do produce flowers that bloom in summer.

Another perennial that grows well in shade gardens is called Bleeding Hearts. Blooming in spring and early summer, they are named after their delicate, dangling flowers that come in shades of white, pink, purple and red. The foliage tends to die back after flowering, therefore gardeners often plant Bleeding Hearts next to Hostas to help fill in the vacant spots.

Vinca vine is a perennial ground cover that spreads rapidly. They bloom tiny bluish-lavender flowers in spring and intermittently throughout the summer. Vinca vines are widely used as a grass substitute and are traditionally planted under large trees.

Colorful brick shaded garden

View This House Plan To The Right

View Other Traditional House Plans

Ferns are incredibly popular for shade gardens because of their graceful foliage. They need a moist shady spot to perform the best. Hardy ferns are tolerant of cold winter temperatures and provide texture to any shade garden.

For larger shaded areas, gardeners should consider planting trees and shrubs. One of the hottest landscaping trees is the flowering Dogwood tree. They grow wider than taller and bloom beautiful white, pink or red flowers in the spring. Although they prefer shade, Dogwood trees thrive when planted in a spot that receives morning sunlight.

Yew trees and shrubs are shade tolerant plants that grow little red berries. This type of evergreen plant does well in the cold months, and has bright green spring foliage. Yews lend themselves to routine pruning, responding well to shearing for hedges and attractive topiary.

Beautiful Contemporary house plan and yard

View This House Plan

View Other Contemporary House Plans

Another popular shrub that grows well in the shade is the Azalea bush. They bloom lovely pink and purple flowers in the spring that resemble orchids. Azaleas grow best in well-drained soil and are perfect in cool, shady areas underneath trees. Some varieties are dense and compact, while others can be open and tree-like.

Beautiful shaded garden

View This House Plan To The Left

View Other Energy Efficient Home Plans

A shade garden can provide color, texture and beauty to otherwise barren ground and it can be a lovely retreat during those hot summer days. Benches, ponds, birdbaths and outdoor art can also be incorporated to accent the beautiful plants and trees in this tranquil area. With a little bit of planning and knowledge of shade plants, a desirable shade garden can be the perfect addition to your home’s landscape. 

Here are some related articles:

Save this article to:

back to top