How to Plant a Shady Border Garden

Do you have a shady corner of your lawn that is just plain boring? You've thought about putting flowers and other foliage there, but you don’t have any ideas what to plant and really don’t have the time to care for it. Here are some flowers and flowering shrubs that grow well in light shade and, once established, are low maintenance.


Step 1

Prepare a location for the shady border garden that is not under large trees--their roots will use much of the water--and receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Dig the ground to a depth of 2 feet, remove weeds and roots and incorporate a large amount of compost or decayed manure. Smooth the area with a rake. Use twine and small sticks to mark the border into 4 by 4-yard sections; the result should be 16 sections with each section 1 yard square. Plant the shrubs in the fall; plant perennial flowers in the fall in warmer climates and in the spring in cooler climates.

Step 2

Plant the two smoke trees. Place them in the outer back corners on each side of the border. Leave the two inner sections between the shrubs and the row of sections in front of the trees empty to allow for the trees’ mature growth.

Step 3

Plant the next row of sections from left to right. In the first section plant 1 hydrangea, in the center of the section. In the second section, plant the ligularias in each corner. Plant the foxgloves in the third section, with one in each corner and one in the center. Plant the other hydrangea in the center of the fourth section.

Step 4

Plant the last row of sections from left to right. In the first section, plant 3 hostas in a triangle. In the second section, plant 3 hebes in a triangle with the point opposite the other triangle of hostas. In the third section, plant 4 crocosmias with 1 in each corner. In the last section, plant a rosa rugosa. Fill in the area in front of the rosa with bugleweeds.

Step 5

Water to remove air pockets and settle in the plants. Spread a thick covering of mulch between the plants to help retain moisture and prevent weeds. As an option, plant spring and summer bulbs between the smoke trees to help fill in the large gaps until the trees are established.

Step 6

Water the shade garden regularly but do not overwater. Prune and deadhead the plants to keep the garden neat and healthy. Remove spent foliage from bulbs as the leaves die. Apply a complete fertilizer in the spring and again in mid summer.

Things You'll Need

Shovel , Rake, Compost or decayed manure, Yard stick or measuring tape, Twine and small sticks, Trowel, 2 smoke trees (grows approximately 15 feet), 4 ligularias (grows approximately 4 feet), 2 hydrangeas (grows approximately 3 feet), 3 hostas (grows 1 to 3 feet), 3 hebe (grows 6 to 12 inches), 4 crocosmias (grows 2 to 4 feet), 1 rosa rugosa (grows 3 to 6 feet), 6 bugleweed (grows 15 inches), Bulbs (optional), Mulch, Water, Pruning shears, Complete fertilizer

About this Author

After attending Hardin Simmons University, Kay Dean finished her formal education with the Institute of Children's Literature. Since 1995, Dean has written more than 2,000 articles for publications, including "PB&J," Disney’s "Family Fun," "ParentLife," "Living With Teenagers" and Thomas Nelson’s New York Times best-selling "Resolve." After 17 years of homeschooling her five children, Dean discovered that motherhood doesn’t stop with an empty nest.

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