Inviting Shade Gardens

In the heat of summer tall buildings, mature trees and privacy fences create welcome shade for people, pets and plants.  However, gardening in these shady areas can be challenging especially in a dry area.

By following a few simple steps, you can find the perfect plants and create a thriving, inviting dry shade garden.

What Type of Shade?

The type of shade matters, and there are three different types of shade. The most challenging of the three shade types for gardening is deep shade. Deep shade is often found on the north side of a building. Very few plants will grow well in this environment and adding other attractive garden elements will help make this a cool and inviting retreat in the heat of summer. Consider creating a comfortable seating or dining area with the relaxing sound of a water feature.  More plant choices are viable in the second category, filtered shade. This is an area where light reaches the ground, between tree branches and leaves. Whereas our third category, part shade is an area that gets some direct sunlight. Numerous flowering plants will thrive in a part shade area with some direct sun.

These three, somewhat subtle distinctions make a difference to the plants, especially in an area with little natural or supplement moisture.  Amending the soil with compost, and covering with a layer of organic mulch will improve the health of the soil and also increases the moisture holding capacity of the soil.

Once you have determined the type of shade garden you have, then decide if you want to plant trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals or all of the above.   Below is a list of resources to help you find the best trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals for your shady garden area.

Planttalk Colorado™  - Trees and Shrubs for Shady Areas

Colorado State University Extension – Native Shrubs for Colorado Landscapes

Colorado Native Plant Society  (CoNPS) – Gardening with Native Plants

The expert staff at your local independent garden center  - click here for a list

Allison Gault