Brighten Shady Landscaping

You can’t beat a cool, shady spot in your yard on a hot summer day, but don’t ignore landscaping shady areas  - there are a whole host of plantings that thrive in shade, and can make that cool spot even more inviting.  Light colors and variegated (streaks, marks, or patches of a different color or colors) leaves show best in darker areas.

Consider planting a shade garden, even a hammock or an old fashioned cast iron garden set to share the shade with a friend.  For shade gardens, consider:


By far the most favored shade loving perennials, with over 160 different cultivars, you could landscape the whole shaded area in different variations.   Some varieties can grow up to five feet in diameter in dramatic fashion.  Colors include blue-green, green, yellow, and white, so there’s one for every color scheme, and they’re hardy and long-living, so a wonderful investment for the shade garden.

Bleeding Hearts

A perennial , bushy plant for early, classic Spring color, Bleeding Hearts add a good old-fashioned show of blooms, some variations with blooms the shape of pair of trousers hung out to dry.  Bleeding Hearts are essential for cottage gardens, and add color and texture to shade gardents.


Even shade gardens need an annual for full season color, and Impatiens can fit the fit the bill just fine.   Impatiens are a mainstay in shade gardens, can be propagated simply, look great grouped together and are easy-care.  The double Impatiens produce little blooms that look like roses and give non-stop color from Spring to Fall.  There are few care requirements in return, they like moisture and don’t let them get too much sun.


For a bright pink variegated show of leaf color – try a coleus plant with a huge variety of patterns to their leaves, from specked pink to deep burgundy.  Coleus can be used as a house plant as well, it is a perennial, but a tender one, which will wither at the first site of frost.


For a larger impact in shaded areas, don’t count out flowering bushes, Rhododendrons and Azaleas love dappled sunlight in shade gardens, or just as a casual woodland look with a spot of color.  Azaleas have a new bloom variety that give you Spring, Summer and Fall blooms with the Encore Azalea.   As a bonus, both options are evergreen, meaning they don’t lose all their leaves in the winter, so they offer year round interest. 

Bushes can cost big in garden centers, so you have two options to save your landscaping budget:

  • Buy younger bushes, you may not get the instant big impact, but you’ll save big instead, smaller Azaleas can be purchased for as little as $2 - $6.
  • Buy flowering bushes after their bloom time.  Many nurseries discount plants and bushes that have already bloomed for the season, some discounted up to 50% off - shop for Azaleas in Mid May through June.  Again, if you don’t mind waiting for the impact, you can save big.

Now, what’s the favorite low budget landscaping option for shady areas?  Containers work quite nicely, thank you.  Put together a container of impatiens and coleus or a hanging basket of pansies and a flowing vinca vine for portable plantings.