Whenever your house has trees growing in its vicinity, you’re going to be faced with a yard that is partially in the shade or fully in the shade. Having these canopies is a great advantage when you’re seeking relief from the scorching sun of the summer months. They provide a refuge from the sweltering heat, especially when you are entertaining family and friends or having a barbecue outside. However, when you’re attempting to create a backyard that is beautifully landscaped, the foliage from the trees can outweigh their advantage.
Typically, when you shop for plants at most garden centers, the aisles are overflowing with sun-loving annuals or perennials; however, according to landscape contractor Roger Cook of This Old House, “It’s not difficult to find interesting plants for shade.” The most important thing for you to consider when landscaping a shaded yard is to do research ahead of time before you take the first step. By doing so, you will be able to find suitable plants that fit into your backyard’s low-light conditions and calculate just how much sun your site typically gets.


Generally, if your area receives between 3 to 5 hours of sun each day, you can assume that this amount of light is considered partial shade. If your area receives 2 hours or less of sun each day, this amount of low-light is considered full shade. In addition to the amount of sunlight your site receives, soil conditions will also determine which plants will thrive best in the location.


As an example: If you can take a handful of soil and roll it into a ball that holds its shape, then this is considered moist soil, which is perfect for most shade-loving plants. However, if the soil is dry and breaks down into powder or dusty clumps, this is considered dry soil. You will typically find this type of soil located under trees with compressed foliage and stubborn roots. In this particular area, you will need to find plants that can tolerate dry soil.

Dramatic Foliage

Although there are good selections of shade-loving plants that produce attractive flowers, most of these plants show off their best traits with their dramatic foliage. There are numerous leaf colours that are visually appealing and range from chartreuse to blue-green to purple. In particular, the yellow-gold and silver-toned foliage can bring a dramatic effect by appearing to bring the equivalent of sunlight to shady planting beds.


Another way to modify the heavy shade created by trees into partial shade is to remove some limbs from the trees or thin out the branches. You may even choose to eliminate some trees altogether to increase the amount of sunlight that filters into your backyard. And remember, shade beneath deciduous trees is different throughout the year. Therefore those woody plants and flowering bulbs that might bloom in the spring can grow well because they can take advantage of the sun’s rays before the limbs have leafed out.

Types of Plants

One of the best and toughest plants that can thrive in a shaded garden is the Bigroot Geranium that doesn’t mind the heat, drought or dry soil. Best of all, those pesky rabbits find the taste repugnant and typically move on to tastier morsels. This shade loving plant will enhance your shaded garden and produce an array of pink or white flowers in the spring.
Of course, Hostas are very well-known shade plants amongst gardeners. They are attractive and easy to grow perennial plants that thrive in shade. Hostas offer a wide variety of shade plants and you can choose from miniatures that are small and compact, to oversized giants that sprawl 6 feet across or more. Their foliage comes in a multitude of green, blue, white, chartreuse and gold shades. Their presence is visually effective for a shaded backyard.

Easier than You Think

Gardening in a shaded area doesn’t have to be a huge challenge or a big obstacle if you remember the simple rule that first do your homework to find plants that tolerate low light. When you discover which plants have the best chance to succeed, give them the kind of care that will provide beauty and colour in your shaded backyard.
Whether your backyard is partially in the shade or fully in the shade, Evergreen Landscapes can find you the right plants to complement your garden during the various phases of all seasons. Contact us and our team of professionals will be ready to help.