42 Beautiful Shady Gardens Design Ideas

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Lots of gardeners are more in favor of sunny spots and will avoid placing their gardens in the shade. You see, they think it’s too difficult to grow anything there!
I find that to be very sad because they are missing out on a huge benefit of shade gardens: a unique beauty that gives you a refreshing rest from the hot sun.

I want you to have that luxury and that’s why I’m going to share some tips on how to design your shade garden.

The first, most important thing you can do is the same for any garden – shade or not – you need to plan it out!

Start by investigating that shady spot you’re thinking of: are there any weeds growing? If not then that’s a bad thing – if weeds aren’t growing, it’s likely nothing else will grow either!

Go ahead and get some graph paper – don’t worry, you don’t need to be an artist! – but you *do* need to sketch in whatever trees and buildings provide shade and (this part is important so make sure you’re paying attention!) make note of what times and how long the sun crosses over that spot!

Remember to consider what time of year it is, since shade could be seasonal! Also make sure you have a water supply that can reach that spot.

Another thing people often forget when designing a shade garden: they forget about light! I recommend placing a dim light around the shady patch

What Type Of Plants To Include In Your Shade Garden

Shade garden plants should have white or pastel flowers… they’ll stand out in the dark of the shady areas of your garden!

My favorites are: Foxglove, Daylilies, Primroses, Impatiens, Forget-Me-Nots and Pansy.

For anchor plants make sure to use evergreens or grasses and not just in one place – use them several times in your garden! I like plants with big, coarse leaves and shrubs like viburnum and hydrangea. Perennials like canna and iris work great too!

The bigger plants will cause some visual gaps so you’ll want to use smaller shrubs to fill them in. Go ahead and use boxwood and Compacta holly – they work great!

Use Colorful Flowers To Offset All That Green

I like the silver tones of wormwood and bulks like daffodils and grape hyacinth. These do really well in the shade!

I have lots of people ask me: “What if my flowers have difficulty growing in the shade?”

No problem! Just use pots or containers to plant your flowers and place them in your shade garden.

It’s Not Just About Plants And Flowers… Make Sure You Don’t Forget This Crucial Part

The success of your shady garden is not just about planting the right stuff… you also need to have good soil and proper drainage!

Preparing the soil is nothing fancy or different from “sunny gardens” – use a good organic compost and spread it with mulch.

Healthy Soil Tip: Make sure you test the pH of your soil! (Most woodland plants grow best in soil that’s slightly acidic… that’s a pH of 6 to 6.5. Others like blueberries or azaleas grow best with a soil pH of about 5.5


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