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Planting In Shade: The Fabulous Flowers and Foliage Shade Pre-planned Garden

By David Salman

New For 2019

The Fabulous Foliage and Flowers Pre-planned Garden is a new pre-planned garden design for shade, dappled shade and morning sun/afternoon shade. The concept around which this new garden was designed is that both flowers and foliage should be used to provide color and texture.  Plants with interesting foliage make the flowers around them even more beautiful. The flowers are yellow, white and salmon-pink. The foliage provides shades of green, silver and variegated green and silver as well as a variety of contrasting leaf shapes.

The Fabulous Foliage and Flowers Pre-planned Garden design uses 18 plants including:

The garden covers approximately 40 sq. ft. (8 ft. wide x 5 ft. deep). Plants will typically reach mature size in two growing seasons. The garden grows well in most soil types, except heavy clay and waterlogged areas. And the garden is cold hardy in USDA zones 4-9.

More Shade Gardens

Here are three additional pre-planned gardens for shady in-ground plantings and container gardens.

  • The Serene Shade Pre-Planned garden uses a mix of perennial groundcovers, taller upright growers and an ornamental grass to create a bright, blooming assortment of perennials to color-up shady areas of your yard.
  • The Under a Tree Pre-Planned garden uses ornamental grasses and groundcovers to cover shady ground.
  • The Shady Oasis Container Garden is perfect for planting a container with blooming perennials that come back year after year.
  • The Made for Shade Collection provides three of our toughest and most resilient groundcovers for difficult, full shade or part shade conditions.

Considerations When Planting In Shade

Often, shade becomes much more of a factor in the home landscape over time.  Those newly planted trees and large shrubs get big; and after 10 or 15 years, sunny areas are now in the shade.  Because a landscape is really never finished, this provides an opportunity to replant with shade loving plants and create a new look in your yard.  

There are different types of shade conditions created by buildings as well as large shrubs and trees. It’s always instructive to study a shady spot by identifying the overhead path of the sun during different parts of the day and during different seasons. (You may be surprised that some shady locations get some fairly strong early morning or late afternoon sun.) Find out what type of shade conditions you have. Is the area in deep shade, morning sun/afternoon shade or dappled shade?  The deeper the shade, the more limited your plant choices will be.

Identify the Trees You’re Planting Under

Most trees are deep rooted and suitable for under-planting with shade loving plants. But some trees may not be a good option as an overhead companion for shade-loving plants.

Centranthus Ruber with Columbine in Shade Garden
When planting under trees, consider the root depth of the tree and light the plants will receive.
  • Maples, willows and poplars/cottonwoods have dense, shallow roots which can be too difficult to dig through. Planting under these trees may require constructing a raised bed around the base of the trees with about 8 inches of new soil placed over weed barrier.
  • Walnuts (all types) release chemicals into the soil that act as natural herbicides, thus eliminating competition from plants growing under and around them. Don’t plant under or around them.
  • Large conifers (evergreen trees) are also tough as the shade they cast is very deep and the overhead branches absorbs most if not all the rain and snow that fall on them, creating an extremely dry soil. When planting under big conifers it’s essential that irrigation be used to provide sufficient water for your shade garden plants.

The Importance of Digging Good Holes When Planting

It is extremely important when planting under trees and large shrubs, that the planting holes be nice and wide and free of fine fibrous feeder roots. Removing feeder roots from the planting hole is essential so that new transplants can establish their roots with minimal competition. Also make the effort to enrich the soil adequately with ample amounts of Yum Yum Mix and a good quality compost mixture.  This will also help the new plants to get off to a great start by providing the nutrients necessary for establishing strong roots.

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