How to Plant a Shady Woodland Garden

Does a section of your property include a woodland spot that is dark and dismal? You can transform it into a colorful garden with bright flowers and foliage. Plants with lots of white, cream or blue-green foliage such as hostas, azaleas and ferns can provide color and texture from spring to fall.


Step 1

Clear away any weeds in the shady area. Dig up the soil; use a trowel if needed to avoid damaging the roots of trees. Work in a 2-inch layer of compost or decayed manure.

Step 2

Plant an azalea. Mark a spot about 3 feet from the base of a tree in the area. Dig a hole as deep as the azalea container is tall. Remove the flower from its pot and plant the azalea in the hole.

Step 3

Plant ferns. Dig the holes as deep as the fern containers, next to the azalea. Space ferns about 3 feet apart. While there are different varieties of ferns available in all areas, lace fern and maidenhair fern grow well in woodland settings.

Step 4

Plant hostas in a wide triangle in front of the azalea, spacing them about 3 to 4 feet apart. Place larger hostas in the back and smaller ones in the front. Position them at the same depth they were in their containers. Select hostas that grow well in woodland settings, like elegans, royal standard or aurea marginata.

Step 5

Water the entire area thoroughly. Spread a 3- to 4-inch layer of chopped leaves or shredded bark to control weeds, retain moisture in the soil and create a woodsy look. Water regularly because the trees will absorb much of the moisture.

Step 6

Remove the flower heads of the azaleas when the flowers fade. Trim the ivy to keep it from climbing the trees. At the end of the season, cut the hostas back and compost the leaves.

Tips and Warnings

Other flowers can be used in a shady woodland garden such as pachysandra, lamium, daffodils, giant snowdrop, blue phlox, Solomon’s seal, witch hazel and oakleaf hydrangea.

Things You'll Need

Shovel , Compost or manure, Trowel, Pruning shears

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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