Planting a Shade Garden

Ever since we moved into our house, I’ve had dreams of walking down our stone path to the backyard with colorful bursts of flowers spraying in all directions. Besides planting a few hostas here and there, I don’t have much experience with planting in the shade. I decided this year is the year. So here is what I am working with:

My husband and I started by ripping up all of the ground cover. Helpful for soaking up water and keeping the soil moist, but not the look I want to go for. I am sure we will be working to get rid of this completely for years, but for now, we have this:

And if you are paying extra special attention, you’ll notice our newest edition in the back. Our  brand new, eco-friendly, garden-loving, sewer-helping rain barrel! I’ve been entertaining the idea of getting a rain barrel for awhile now. I love the thought of using the wonderful rain water that would otherwise fill the gutters, and pool in the small dip in our yard. Using it to water our plants and herbs sounds like a much better idea, so we buckled and bought the Fiskars Rain Barrel. And so far so good!

So now that my rain barrel is in place and my ground cover is ripped up, I will make the trek to the garden shops this weekend to pick out my shade plants. This side of my house faces northeast and is bordered by some large oak trees. The plants toward the front of the garden get some sunlight throughout the day, but anything planted toward the wall, sees almost no sun. I’m more interested in planting perennials so I only have to plant one time rather than planting and replanting every year.

I want to create depth by having some taller grasses and ferns in the back, interspersing colors throughout. Here are some species of plants I’ve found that I am going to try incorporate in my dream shade garden:

From left to right, clockwise, Astilbe Fireberry, Lilyturf, Lungwort, Coral Bells. (

Ultimately, I want to create a look similar to this: &

And out I go to start the process. If anyone has any suggestions on great shade perennials, I would love to hear them! I will post my pictures once my garden is in full bloom. What is your garden project this summer?



Filed under Garden

13 responses to “Planting a Shade Garden

  1. Thanks for sharing about all your research! I am trying out a vegetable garden this year, but my patch only get sun part of the day. If things don’t work out, I might just have to go for a decorative shade garden next time around. I didn’t know they could be so beautiful! I can’t wait to see your next updates!

  2. The front of my house is ALL shade and I haven’t quite figured out what to do with it. So thank you for this post! Nice rain barrel, too.

  3. I love your plans and I also have to deal with a lot of shade and rain so I’ll look foward to an update on how it goes! My roses are going strong this year, but my big plan for this weekend it to plant my herb garden.

  4. Pingback: Anniversary Garden |

  5. carol llinden

    i think you will love japanese forest grass (hak-on-a-cloa, bad spelling).does well at the front of my house, with an overhand and two large maples.

  6. Claudia

    Enjoy the adventure. You seem to be off to a great start with vision of what can be!

  7. Chuck

    I like these ideas. Other good shade plants for color include Coleus, Impatiens, Fuschias, Hostas, Begonias, just to name a few more.

  8. Stacey

    Hydrangeas are lovely in the shade as are azaleas. They are engineering mire and mire everblooming ones all the time!

  9. Beverley Lawson

    I have just planted clivias, but am also on the look ou for helibores and hostas. Not easy in South Africa where there is not much shade. My begonias and impatiens are thriving though. Good luck with your garden!

  10. Carol

    I have a love for hellebores, They are the first plant to bloom in the spring and stay in bloom all summer while maintaining beautifully shaped leaves that remain green all summer also. Do a little research on them, you might fall in love too.

  11. Lisa

    I have several different hostas of varying colors and sizes. I also have gardenias, astilbe, caladiums, elephant ears (3 different sizes and colors), ferns, day lilies and calla lilies. They’re all perennials and low maintenance. I’ve added a little more every year and this is year four. They are beautiful.

  12. Jackie

    Hi there. I can definitely appreciate your efforts. I started a dry shade garden last year. My husband and I put in a flagstone path around a large mound of dirt in our backyard that is surrounded by three mature elm trees. This fall, we planted a Japanese maple, gardenias and lots of other “dry shade plants”. We live in north Texas, were the term “drought resistant” is a must! I also planted some bulbs, so we will see how it goes….🙂

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