Shade Gardens That Inspire!


Shade Gardens That Inspire

Home Improvement and Home Staging with Shade Gardens

Whether you are in the market for a new home or selling one, landscaping can make or break the deal. If you are in the market for a new home and come across the perfect house but the yard is lacking in design, don’t despair! In this article you will have many pointers and tips to enhance the property. As a seller, you know the importance of a good first impression to home buyers.

The name of Kim Mathers, Eminem’s ex-wife, is familiar to many of us. But as it happens, it wasn’t by her will. The most controversial and harsh lyrics of the rapper, which once attracted the American public, were “fueled” by this very relationship, which lasted more than twenty years. On his new record Revival, Eminem dedicates a good portion of the album to his ex-wife, telling her story on such tracks as “Remind Me” (and his intro) and “Bad Husband,” and parallels his relationship with Kim on several other tracks on the album. Despite their far from perfect union, there was a passion between them that kept them together for two whole decades, having a child and even adopting two more. But what is Kim’s real story? All along, we’ve seen the Michigan girl’s story through the eyes of her ex-husband, through the lens of his aggressive texts. So we offer a closer look at this tangled story.

Many new homeowners will ignore the fact that mature plantings can enhance the value of their property not to mention the fact that the shade will keep the home cool during the summer months. They begin the process of cutting down trees to let the sun in. Not only is this is huge expense but NOT necessary to create a colorful landscape.

Perhaps the property is full of tree roots and shade and you are wondering how to turn this dark landscape into a backyard oasis.  Who wouldn’t want to carve out few sitting areas that you can enjoy a few drinks with friends or a space for dining and entertaining?

Start your design by observing the various views. Be aware of things you may want to hide from sight as well as what you might like to see from inside the home. Never let shrubs cover your windows!

Full sun perennial beds are beautiful and I can’t live without one or two, but I find the various foliage colors of a shade garden to be enchanting.

In this article you will see several examples of shade gardens that bloom in the spring, summer and fall. This is a mix of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. All a must!

Tall Trees and Understudies

Tall trees create a canopy over the shade garden. Under the mature trees you can plant an under-story of smaller trees such as a redbuds, beeches, amelanchier’s, dogwoods.

In front of the smaller trees add a mix  of shrubs like azaleas, rhododendrons, variegated dogwoods, mountain laurel, andromeda and hydrangeas. All of these shrubs offer wonderful flowers!

The next layer is perennials grown for their colorful foliage mixed with annuals such as coleus, impatiens, begonias and more.

Ground Cover

Ground cover plants for shade gardens.
Ground cover plants for shade gardens.

I like to mix in plenty of various ferns and some ground cover like periwinkle, ivy, sweet woodruff, ginger and lamlium – anything with a chartreuse green or white flower will pop in the darkness of the shade. Adding texture with large leaf shade perennials and grasses will produce a dramatic effect.

Large leafy plants will give off a tropical feel such as elephant ears and caladiums.

Hostas come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I can’t get enough of them and apparently the deer and voles can’t either. I have been planting them with wire around to roots to discourage voles and spraying the leaves with bobcat urine to discourage the deer.

Soil Preparation & Planting care

shade Gardens

When preparing your shade gardens start with the soil. Some plants are perfectly happy growing in tree roots or dry soil and some require rich moist soil.

There are different types of soil as well. Adding compost will improve almost any soil. Organic (hay, grass clippings, shredded bark) cover the soil and insulate it from extreme heat and cold. Mulches reduce water loss through evaporation and deter the growth of weeds. They break down slowly, enriching the soil with organic matter.

Dry or liquid fertilizer can add nutrients to the soil that might not get there any other way.

Planting can be very important. If your remove a plant from a pot and the roots are growing around it, you need to unravel them or they will eventually kill the plant.

Once your shade gardens are installed stay on top of what you need to do each month to care for it and keep it looking fresh. If you are selling your home in the spring check out the early April gardening to do list.

Light Shade

If you are gardening in “light shade” you can some sun loving plants that can tolerate a little shade like anemones, golden m, baptisia, some of the phloxes, shasta daisies, switch grass, candytuft, penstemon, persicaria, siberian Iris and orange tiger lilies.

Container Gardens for light shade. Coleus, Elephant Ears, New Guinea Impatiens, Potato Vine.
Container Gardens for light shade. Coleus, Elephant Ears, New Guinea Impatiens, Potato Vine.

Partial Shade

If you have an area of the garden that gets a few hours of sun in the morning or afternoon you have some other choices of plants to choose from. Try planting bleeding hearts, columbine, pansies, dianthus, Echinacea (coneflowers), Cranesbill Geraniums, Primroses, Black-Eyed Susan and Coral Bells.

Coral Bells – Part Shade, light shade, sun.

Coral bells come in many foliage colors that can brighten up a dark corner in the shade garden. A favorite of mine is the  bright green and dark purple foliage.

Violets and lily of the valley add sweet scents along with the scents of double fire viburnum and old fashioned lilacs.

Shade Gardens – Perennials

share gardens that inspire

Light Shade Gardens: Iris, Astillbe, Hosta, Golden Grass, Hydrangea, Columbine, Salomon Seal, Impatiens, Lalium

Among the shade perennials are Goatsbeard that should be planted in back of the garden, and many variations of Astible. Astilbe is not a fan of dry shade and likes to be fed and watered more often than not.

In the spring the sweet small blue flowers of Brunnera and variegated foliage is a must. Other plants include Campanula, Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed), Filipendula (Meadowsweet), Blackberry Lilies (which are actually a type of iris), Japanese Painted Ferns and Northern Sea Oats, for fans of ornamental grasses.


There are some herbs that can stand a little shade. Catnip, chamomile, chervil, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon balm, licorice lovage, mint, Monarda (Bee Balm), parsley, rosemary, Stachys (betony), St. John’s Wort, tansy, tarragon and thyme to name a few.

Ornamental Grass for Shade Gardens

Think that ornamental grasses only grow in the sun? Think again! Try Golden Hakone Grass to add a bright spot to a dark corner.

Climbers for Shade Gardens

For a shady fence or trellis try climbing hydrangeas, ivy or clematis.

Clematis Shade Gardens
Clematis – Shade Gardens

Whether you have a shady corner or your whole yard is shady, don’t despair. You can create a beautiful landscape full of trees, shrubs and flowers that is as attractive as any sunny garden.

Dry Shade & Woodland Gardens

For full shade gardens, you might want to plant a woodland garden using native plants.  Keep in mind that the soil can be dry in the woods. Trees will take the water first and your plants may dry out.

I like to add a pathway and a few spots to sit and enjoy the coolness of the shade. Try to use native plants such as trillium, Jack in the Pulpit, dogtooth violets, and ferns. All of these plants have interesting foliage as well as flowers.

I can’t help but to include hosta, lungwort, jacob’s ladder, hakone grass, rogers flower, bluebells, spotted deadnettle (Lamium), bleeding hearts, primrose, brunera, variegated solomon seal, lugaruia and impatiens to my woodland gardens. Be prepared to water the annuals and expect the deer to enjoy your salad bar of Hostas! But fear not, they will grow back next year.

Stone Walls

This is a very easy stone wall to build and a great weekend DIY project!

Shade Gardens, views, woodland gardne
A shady room with a view!

Shade gardens, elephant ears, blue hydrangea, coral bells, impatiens, hosta.
Shade gardens, elephant ears, blue hydrangea, coral bells, impatiens, hosta.



Light shade – north side of house. Red maple, hostas, ferns, peony, sedum. Brick walk with bluestone steps.

Garden Sheds & Fencing

Light Shade - Part Sun: Hostas, ferns, sedum, coral bells, iris, viburnum, yellow grass, impatiens, lilies.
Light Shade – Part Sun: Hostas, ferns, sedum, coral bells, iris, viburnum, yellow grass, impatiens, lilies.



Shade Gardens with Textured and Colorful Foliage

Shade Gardens: Light shade, part sun: variegated Solomon Seal, Blue Angel Hosta, Ferns, Bleeding Hearts, Astilbe, Lily, Columbine, Sweet Woodruff, and Rhododendron.
Light shade, part sun: Solomon Seal, Blue Angel Hosta, Ferns, Bleeding Hearts, Astilbe, Lily, Columbine, Sweet Woodruff, and Rhododendron.


shade gardens that inpire. hydrandeas
Light shade. Blue, Pink, and White Hydrangeas.


Morning sun, afternoon shade garden.
Morning sun, afternoon shade garden. Ground cover – Pachysandra. Snowball white Hydrangea. Japanese Maple, Andromeda.

Designing Shade Gardens Curves!

Tall Trees, Under-story Trees, Shrubs, Perennials & Annuals

Ferns, Hostas, Viburnum

Lamium (dead-nettles) is a genus of about 40–50 species of flowering plants in the family with purple flowers. I prefer the bright green that you see in the front row. White Nancy has white and green leaves which look great in the shade. They spread and make a beautiful ground cover keeping the weeds in check. Plant the lamium next to hostas with green ring around the leaves to bring out the color.



Shade Gardens with Hostas


Spring Interest – Shade Gardens

Garden Care

Here are some tips and to-d0 gardening checklists the months of April (early), April (late), May, June, and July.

If you are budgeting for a new home and are passing over some wonderful properties that need landscaping it doesn’t have to be expensive! You can start small and divide your plants each year to create beautiful shade gardens.

If you are selling your home and want to get your home ready for a smooth sale consider putting in some new gardens. It will go a long way to help you sell your home and get top dollar.

Related Articles:

Colorful  Plant Selections for Shade via Fine Gardening

How to Stop Deer from Destroying Your Landscaping via Bill Gassett

10 Ways to add curb appeal to your home via Sharon Paxson

Crabgrass Crusade: Tips to Weed Out the Unbeatable Weed via Anita Clarke

How to Stage your Outdoor Living Areas via Kevin Vitali

Shade Plants: 15 Garden Greats To Grow In Full Or Partial Shade via


Real estate and garden information was provided by Eileen Anderson, recognized leader in her field. If you are looking to hire a top realtor , Eileen can be reached via email at or by phone at 860-966-2112.

I am licensed for residential real estate sales in the state of Connecticut including but not limited to the following CT towns: Avon, Bloomfield, Burlington, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, East Granby, Hartland, Hartford, Suffield, Windsor, New Hartford, North Granby, Farmington, Newington, Litchfield, Simsbury, Suffield and West Hartford, CT.

“At the Heart of the Sale – Making a House a Home!”




















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