The Plant Professionals
16886 Turner Street
Lansing, MI 48906
Fax: (517) 327-0299
8 a.m.- 5 p.m. M-F
Also by Appointment
While shade gardens can be a little tricky, there are many options of perennials, shrubs, trees , groundcovers and decor that can make a shady area of the yard a cool retreat. It is important to carefully evaluate your space when planning your shade garden. Take note of how moist or dry your soil is, condition of the soil, whether tree roots are at soil’s surface, and how much light the area receives.
The amount of sunlight an area receives, and during which hours of the day, dictates what kind of plants will thrive. A half a day of sunlight makes the space a partial shade location, and increases the variety of plants that can grow there. Poor soil often hampers shade gardens more than the lack of sunlight. Adding organic matter by mulching with shredded leaves or bark adds nutrients and helps to conserve moisture.
Take advantage of a cool shady location by adding a bench or hammock, and turn an eyesore into a shady retreat. When adding plants, I like to combine different colors and textures. The bold, and big leaves of some Hostas complement the frilly fronds of ferns. Shades of yellow and lime green illuminate dim spots. Shade-loving shrubs anchor beds and add height and structure. Some of my favorites include Summersweet, Boxwood, PJM Rhododendrons, Hydrangeas, Viburnum, and Bush Honeysuckle.
Understory trees that can take light to moderate shade, and also provide height and structure include: Japanese Maple, Service Berry, Sugar Maples, Kousa Dogwood, and Canadian Hemlock. Perennials are great for the shade garden because there are so many varieties from which to choose, and they can live for many years. Hosta, Hellebores, Heuchera, Astilbe, Cimicifuga, Dicentra, Lungwort, Toadlily, Ferns, Spikenard, and Japanese Forrest grass are my favorites.
It is possible to turn dense shade into more open, dappled shade, by pruning up some of the lower limbs of mature trees . Never prune off more than 1/3 of a tree’s branches and foliage per year. For this type of heavy pruning, I suggest calling in an expert. Call us to schedule an appointment for tree pruning, to assist with soil improvement, or to help you develop a design plan to make the shady spot in your yard a peaceful retreat.
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