20 Shade Garden Design Ideas That Prove You Can Grow Colorful Plants Anywhere
Add a Garden Path
Plant Less Grass, Especially in Shady Spots
Every lawn struggles if it doesn't get enough light. So instead of fighting a big patch of fading grass in your yard, keep only a small section of turf and make it a landscape element by surrounding it with a wide swath of shade-loving plants. Or give up the grass and use shade-loving groundcovers such as heuchera and ajuga.
Make Your Garden a Retreat
Transform an unused, shady spot in your yard into a cool and stylish summer oasis by adding a bench and some flowers. Creating a shady retreat will give you the perfect place to enjoy a glass of lemonade on hot, sunny summer days. To create a framework for a garden retreat that's personal without investing a significant chunk of change, consider using salvaged-landscaping materials.
Use Plants with Different Textures
Make a bold, dramatic statement in your shade garden without flowers by combining plants with different foliage textures and colors. An easy way to plant texture combinations is by pairing leaves with opposite characteristics. Here, golden meadow rue creates a stunning contrast to anemone, purple-leaf coralbells, and big-leaf umbrella plant.
Plant Bright Colors
Plant Shade-Loving Groundcovers
Take advantage of low-growing groundcovers that crowd out weeds to make your shade garden easier to maintain. As an added bonus, many varieties provide an attractive carpet of color that can add a living path to your landscape. This golden creeping Jenny practically glows underneath a planting of blue hostas, purple coleus, and black mondo grass.
Add Art to Your Garden
Pick Interesting Materials
Look past the plants and consider making hardscape elements the focal point of your shade garden. For example, a path mulched with dark wood chips becomes a stunning landscape design element when surrounded by white-variegated bishop's weed, ornamental grasses, or golden groundcovers. To help you get started, try creating a base map of your yard.
Plant Flowering Shrubs
Perennials such as hostas are always popular for shade gardens, but don't forget about the wide selection of flowering shrubs to pack your shady spots with color, texture, and height. Here, a variety of azaleas and rhododendrons provide a big spring punch, and their evergreen foliage keeps the garden looking good in winter.
Add a Water Feature
Install a stream or other water feature to give your garden extra sensory appeal with the sound of trickling water. A simple fountain and recirculating pump are all it takes to make garden magic.
Employ Architectural Elements
Include Shade-Loving Annuals
Use Edging Plants
Edge your beds and borders with interesting plants and materials. Here, Japanese forest grass gives the border a stunning color and texture. Look for fun rustic architectural elements such as terra-cotta pots or other objects that reflect your personality.
Create Interesting Plant Combinations
Test Garden Tip: Hostas usually have a coarse texture, so you can't go wrong by mixing them with fine-textured plants.
Plant In Large Numbers
Test Garden Tip: Planting en masse doesn't necessarily mean growing only a single variety. Here, several selections of astilbe combine for an eye-catching garden.
Use Perennial Vines to Add Color
Grow perennial vines to add an extra layer of color to your shade garden. Smaller vines, such as clematis, are often happy to scramble up the trunk of small- to medium-sized trees. Bigger vines are ideal for covering a wall or creating a privacy screen.
Pay Attention to Shapes
Use Shapes in Hardscaping
Utilize other landscape features to give your yard fun shapes. Here, rectangular pavers set in a geometric pattern contrast fringetree's oval leaves.
Plant Shade-Tolerant Trees
Create layers to keep your garden interesting. Many shade gardens feature relatively low perennials, such as hosta, bleeding heart, and astilbe, underneath a canopy of tall trees. Bridge the gap by using tall planters or architectural features such as pillars, or grow shade-tolerant trees and shrubs to provide your garden with a variety of heights.
Select a Color Theme
Maximize the power of color in your shade garden by choosing only one or two hues. This garden, for example, relies on tones of pink and burgundy from hydrangea and impatiens and Japanese maple foliage. With the wide range of shade plants available, you can create a theme in almost any color.