Divide and conquer! That's a surefire way to improve any shady backyard. Here, simple pavers create a sense of purpose and destination among a mass of hostas and other foliage plants.
Every lawn grass -- even those labeled as shade-tolerant -- struggles if it doesn't get enough light. So instead of fighting a big patch of fading grass, keep only a small section of turf and make it a landscape element by surrounding it with a wide swath of shade-loving plants. Or give up the grass and select shade-loving groundcovers.
Transform an ugly, shady spot into a cool and stylish summer oasis by adding a bench and some flowers. That way you have the perfect place to enjoy a glass of lemonade on hot, sunny summer days.
Make a bold, dramatic statement in your shade garden without flowers by combining plants with different foliage textures and colors. Here, golden meadow rue creates a stunning contrast to anemone, purple-leaf coralbells, and big-leaf umbrella plant.
Shades of yellow and gold shine in the shade -- so take advantage of them to illuminate dim spots. Here, golden Japanese forestgrass creates a perfect complement to a hosta and gold-leaf 'Chardonnay Pearls' deutzia.
Take advantage of low-growing groundcovers that crowd out weeds to make your shade garden easier to maintain. As an added bonus, many varieties provide an attractive carpet of color (such as this golden creeping Jenny, which practically glows underneath a planting of blue hostas, purple coleus, and black mondo grass).
Mix in fun, quirky objects to lend personality to your garden. A collection of silver spheres creates a focal point and adds light and charm to this garden. The colorful spheres floating in the water garden provide even more interest.
Look past the plants and consider making hardscape elements the focal point of your shade garden. For example, a path mulched with dark wood chips becomes a stunning focal point when surrounded by white-variegated bishop's weed, ornamental grasses, or golden groundcovers.
We typically think of perennials such as hostas for shade gardens -- but don't forget about the wide selection of flowering shrubs to pack your shady spots with color, texture, and height. Here, a variety of azaleas and rhododendrons provide a big spring punch, and their evergreen foliage keeps the garden looking good in winter.
Install a stream or other water feature to give your garden extra sensory appeal with the sound of trickling water. A simple fountain and recirculating pump are all it takes to make garden magic.
Look for fun, unique objects to fill your garden with interest. This garden features a series of round millstones, old barrels as containers, and a variety of paving materials. They offer a fun, whimsical feel and are a great accent to a wide variety of plants.
Select annuals to create color in shady spots. Annuals are a perfect addition for shade gardens because they bloom all summer long. Top varieties include impatiens, balsam, torenia, browallia, coleus, and iresine.
Sprinkle your shade garden with a few stunning plant combinations to act as focal points. Here, a Japanese maple is a perfect companion for a couple of types of hosta and 'Gold Heart' bleeding heart.
ust about every type of plant looks better in large groupings than it does planted individually. Here, drifts of astilbe seem to tower out of a groundcover of golden sedum.
Grow vines to add an extra layer of color to your shade garden. Smaller vines, such as clematis, are often happy to scramble up the trunk of small- to medium-sized trees. Bigger vines are ideal for covering a wall or creating a privacy screen.
Go beyond color and texture to make your garden a showpiece. Use plant shapes to draw the eye. For example a straight-edge border of variegated bishop's weed creates a line that contrasts a tightly clipped boxwood and loose mounds of Japanese maple, hosta, and other perennials.
Create layers to keep your garden interesting. Many shade gardens feature relatively low perennials, such as hosta, bleeding heart, and astilbe, underneath a canopy of tall trees. Bridge the gap by using tall planters or architectural features such as pillars, or grow shade-tolerant trees and shrubs to provide your garden with a variety of heights.