Perennial shade gardens are really pretty easy. Just plan ahead and choose shade-loving plants that you are familiar with. The biggest mistake that people make is not properly researching their plants’ needs before they start planting.
- Choose your shade garden plot and plants wisely.
Is your plot in full shade or part shade? Some plants have very finicky light requirements – research your plants’ before purchasing or planting. What kind of soil do you have? Are you planting under trees? Your shade plants are going to have to compete with your trees for nutrients and moisture, and they may needs extra attention in the future. Soil under conifers tends to be more acidic, and it may need to be amended to adjust the pH before plants will thrive. Any shady spot will do, but some will require a little more prep work than others.
- Design your shade garden layout before you start planting.
Certain plants need a little bit more sunlight than others and may need to be planted near the edge of your shady area. Position your bright-blooming shade plants like Daylilies, Columbines, and Lenten Roses so that the flowers will stand out against your deeper colored foliage-interest plants like Heucheras, Hostas, and Ferns. You don’t want your flowering plants hidden in the shadows – they should twinkle and highlight all the interesting things that you have going on throughout.
- Give your shade garden the special care and attention it needs.
Pull weeds and saplings that will compete with your plants. Use mulch to regulate soil moisture and temperature and to deter weeds. Water deeply once a week, possibly more if your garden is in the shade of trees. Use rich compost and manure or an all-purpose fertilizer to ensure that your plants have plenty of nutrients.
Shade gardens can be one of the most attractive, peaceful places in the garden. Along the edge of the woods, a small grove of trees in your lawn, or in a corner along a north facing wall: your shade garden will be an oasis from the summer heat. Accentuate with a bench, a flagstone path, a frog pond, or maybe a bird bath to make your new space more comfortable, and spend your summer relaxing in the shade.