Landscaping in the Shade

Perennials for the Shade

Shade gardens are a wonderful way to utilize the areas under trees, beside fences, and along foundations. But be sure to choose the right plants for your shady spot.

Check your garden's shade patterns. High tree canopies give partial or dappled shade, while buildings or low trees provide full shade.

Some shade loving plants also love the sun, so if your shade shifts, look for plants that adapt, like flax lily. Many shady areas are also dry, so use drought tolerant shade lovers like devil's backbone.

Perennials with white or brightly colored flowers or variegated leaves, such as jewels of opar, will really stand out.

Other shade-loving perennials include ferns, crossandra, and gingers, but many more are available.

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Groundcovers for Shade

Most varieties of lawngrass won’t thrive in shade, so you’re better off planting a groundcover that’s easy to grow in low-light conditions.

Several kinds of liriope offer thin grass-like leaves and attractive flowers. Mondo grass is an evergreen perennial that, like liriope, is actually a member of the lily family. The slender leaves curve back toward the ground, lending this plant the appearance of turfgrass. Asiatic jasmine is a fast-spreading, densely growing groundcover that will thrive in sun or shade. This plant will take some management to keep it within the bed. Holly fern has attractive dark-green leaves and is relatively problem-free. Unlike most ferns, it’s fairly drought tolerant once established.

Remember that unlike turf, groundcovers won’t tolerate foot traffic, so you’ll need to plan for walkways or paths.

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