How to Design Shade Garden: All You Need To Know

Most gardens require six hours of direct sunlight per day to grow. The ones that get less than that are called shade gardens. Things get more complicated than that when you get into details because some gardens have plenty of sunlight, but they are also filled with large trees that block the view during most of the day. These are sometimes called dappled shade gardens.

Don’t bother yourself with these technicalities when designing your garden. Have in mind that the time and intensity of the sunlight will change during the year, as your plants grow and develop.


How to Design Shade Garden: All You Need To Know

Colors and Textures

Shade gardens will never be as bright and colorful as those that get enough sunlight and that shouldn’t even be your goal. However, shade gardens could be just as interesting and well-designed if you put some effort in it. It’s also true that small and subtle color changes are more noticeable in shade gardens because every color matters when you don’t have enough of them.

Leaves and foliage will play an especially important part in making your garden colorful and bright. Their colors are more durable than those of flowers so you can enjoy your garden much longer during the fall.


Since you’re planting in the shade, most of your plants would have to grow under large trees. This could be a problem because this setup will make the roots large and hard to maintain. They could drain the much-needed water from other plants and slow their growth.

By planting in containers, you could avoid much of these problems, but that only works with some plants depending on their root size. Inserting a barrier like a barrel into the soil could also help.

Planting Herbs

One of the good things about shade gardens is that the plants you can grow in them are also very useful and easy to maintain. Planting herbs that you can actually use in your kitchen would make the whole process worth your while and give a garden a nice and rich look.

Some of these plants require sunlight, however, so you need to do your research before deciding on what to plant. For instance, basil won’t grow in a shade garden no matter how much you try. Oregano, mint, and wild ginger on the hand, definitely could grow in your shade garden and they look great.

A Patio

Shade gardens could be a great place to relax, unwind or organize a small party for your friends and family. They are especially pleasant during the hot summer months when you need all the shade you can get.

It isn’t enough just to have the trees and a couple of plants, you’ll need to put a little effort into it if you want your garden to be presentable. Use shade sails to create an ambiance or add a few comfortable chairs or a hammock and you could start serving drinks.

A Path

One of the most useful things you could do for your garden is to try to make it visually interesting and to add variety to it. This is easily accomplished by adding a small path in the middle of the garden. That way you could easily move around and the garden will be separated into two areas.

It’s relatively easy to set up a small path if you have a well-leveled soil. A few bricks are all you need and don’t worry about the road not being straight – it adds charm to the whole place.

Water Features

Water features work very well in a shade garden. These gardens are usually quiet and subtle in their aesthetic which makes fountains a perfect fit. They add variety to the design but they are not too flashy and don’t distract from the plants and the trees.

The fountain is easiest to set up, but if you have the resources you could go for something more complex. With an ordinary recirculating pump you could create a small stream inside your garden and plant around it.


Setting up a shade garden could take a while because you need to choose the plants and to make sure they will grow with the soil and the amount of sunlight that you might have. It also may take a long time for the plants to mature given the circumstances. However, once that’s over you don’t have to do almost any maintenance.

The shade itself is enough to stop any weeds from growing around your plants and you won’t have to worry about any pests for the same reason. Most of the plants can pretty much grow on their own once you’ve planted them.

Shade gardens are a great addition to your yard. They are relatively easy to set up and they don’t require any maintenance. These gardens could grow both decorative and eadible plants depending on your preferences and needs.

Abigail Jones

Hi, I'm Abigail. I like spending time tearing my house apart and putting it together back again. Join me on home improvement tutorials, tips on my blog.

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