Everyday Gardeners

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2 Great Perennials To Plant In A Shady Side Yard Garden

Side Yard Ferns in Shawna Coronado perennial garden

Fall is the best time to plant perennials in many locations across the country. Why not rebuild that barren side yard garden bed that has been plaguing you this fall? Several years ago I had a rather desolate area on the side of my home (see photo right)  that I converted into a flagstone walking path surrounded by shade perennials.

Side yards often come with adverse conditions. In my case, I have an oak tree planted on the side of my house that gives shade to cool our home, but is located in such a way as to prevent most light from making an appearance in the side garden. This isShady Side Yard Demolition common in side yards and I have a solution: a quiet path combined with shade plants.

Flagstone can be a large investment, however, it is also possible to make a path from old bark or mulch. I placed lots of organic matter in the soil then planted it up with a mixture of ferns, hostas, and other part-shade to shade loving perennials.

2 Awesome Perennials For Shade


Dependent upon the variety of fern, you can plant a native to your region, which can be a beneficial home for small mammals like lizards and songbirds. I have often seen frogs and turtles hide in ferns as well. In the photo at top you see Lady Ferns which can grow up to 3 feet tall in my garden. They were given to me as pass-along plants by my mother-in-law and I love them. Squirrels often romp at the base of the oak tree in the ferns. In a dry year the plants will fall to the ground in drought, but will recover in the spring and sprout new fronds reliably. Ferns typically like a rich soil and shady conditions, so they do very well here. Lady Fern, Cinnamon Fern, and New York Fern are some of the easiest to grow.


While not native plants, I find hostas to be great hummingbird and pollinator attractors. Hosta leaves can be amazingly colorful as well and do a lot to brighten up a dull space. Hostas prefer rich, well drained, and moist soil. This area of my garden can be rather dry. Therefore, I plant the hostas, then mulch well in anticipation of drier conditions. I planted several varieties along the walk way including Hosta ‘Honeybells’, ‘Guacamole’, and ‘Halcyon’ – all favorite’s within my garden.

Try one of these plants out in your side yard for an easy solution to shady conditions. Plant before the first frost and water well until established.

Side Yard Perennial Plant Garden of Shawna Coronado

5 Responses to “ 2 Great Perennials To Plant In A Shady Side Yard Garden ”

  1. The problem with ferns, for me, is that they seem to repopulate like rabbits! I can’t pull them fast enough! Although they are very pretty and lush when they are in full bloom, I need to re-fresh my shady area with another plant.

    I’m a fan of hostas. And while they, too, expand their real estate, I think their larger leaves are prettier than the ferns.

    Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Conditions vary with ferns; it depends on the variety of fern when you are discussing growth rates. Some ferns simply fall down in extreme heat or drought, they definitely prefer shade and moisture.


  3. I agree, ferns are very easy to grow in a shady area but it is also very difficult to control their space, they just seem to spread anywhere and everywhere. This is what I dislike about ferns. I have no experience with Hostas though.

  4. Well… actually it depends ont he kind of fern you use. There are hundreds of types, of which several tens are commonly used for gardering purpose. And many of them do not spread quickly. But if they do … so easy to get rid of them. In our 9 acre garden, part woodland, we have scores of ferns. in many varieties… and love them!

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