What To Plant In A Shady Garden

Create a lush tropical outdoor space with shade-loving plants.

Create a lush tropical outdoor space with shade-loving plants. Image: Getty Images

Finding plants that will survive and thrive in locations where little sun penetrates is one of the most difficult gardening dilemmas.

In Australia, this usually means the area on the south side of your home, which can be moist as well as shady.

Many suburban gardens have large established trees that cast shadows over part of the backyard.

In small backyards or courtyards, the trees don’t need to be very big to create shady problem areas.

With plot sizes shrinking and housing density increasing, gardening in areas without sun is becoming more relevant across the country.

Variations of shade
Variations of shade

The key to creating a successful shady garden is in the planning, so it’s essential to identify the type of shade you’re dealing with before planting.

FULL SHADE means no direct light penetrates. It usually occurs under large trees or on the south side of a building, especially between houses. Complete shade presents the toughest challenge. A garden under established trees competes for nutrients and water, with the canopy stopping a lot of the rain reaching the soil.

SEMI OR PART SHADE means the area gets sun for only half the day. It’s important when working with part shade to distinguish between plants that like morning or afternoon sun.

LIGHT OR DAPPLED SHADE refers to an area that receives filtered sunlight during the day, such as under plants with foliage that is not too dense. Other areas that need thought are the pergola, balcony and indoors. House plants receive neither rain nor nutrients, so these should be very hardy, or very well looked after. A shady garden has the potential to be soothing and restful in a way sunny yards are not. Shaded spots make great summer retreats, so add a comfortable outdoor setting for those hot days.

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