Got Shade? 20 Ideas for Made in the Shade Gardens

Check out these great ideas for plants and the design of a low-light garden.

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©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Lynn Coulter

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Photo By: Image courtesy of Blackberry Farm ©2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Proven Winners

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Kim Visokey

Photo By: Image courtesy of Kim Visokey

Photo By: Image courtesy of Blackberry Farm ©2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Photo by Jamie Rector

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Hostas Love the Shade

Shade-loving hostas pair nicely with other shade staples, including Japanese aralia (Fatsia japonica), against a brick wall for contrast.

Watch the Trees

There are many plants that enjoy moist shade. It might require that some tree branches be thinned out so that shade is less dense. Soil may also need to be improved if shade plants are expected to thrive.  

What to Plant in Wet Shade

Beautiful foliage plants like hostas and ferns thrive in the deep shade and moist soil that come with tree canopies. Also try leopard plant (Ligularia), goat's beard (Aruncus) and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).

More Wetland Plants

Rodgersias are extremely handsome plants primarily grown for their foliage. The woodland plants perform well in water gardens and shade gardens. Other plants that thrive at the edge of a shady pond include giant rhubarb (Gunnera manicata), sedge (Carex) and rush (Juncus effusus), which can tolerate standing water.

Make Shade with Shrubs

Create shade for certain plants by using larger shrubs at the back of beds. This will create interest in garden borders.

Shade-Loving Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle does very well in shade. It produces extremely fragrant flowers followed by small red berries.

Plant Under a Bench

This secluded part of the garden features shade-loving perennials planted under a garden bench that adds interest and color to this corner of the garden.

Succulents Tolerate Shade

Plants like hosta and ferns may initially come to mind when discussing shade plants, but in a dry desert climate, versatile succulents reign supreme. Sempervivum tectorum, also known as hens and chicks, are ornamental succulents that will tolerate shade and sun.

A Summer Arrangement Thrives in Shade

This summer container arrangement, including Fatsia japonica, Pelargonium 'Lady Plymouth', and Alocasia, is a good collection for a shady backyard patio.

Grow Hydrangeas

As if you needed another reason to love these flowering shrubs, hydrangeas need a little shade to show off their best color, especially in hot Southern regions. The further north you live, the more sunlight they can take.

Hydrangea Path

Hydrangea 'Tardiva' and 'Annabelle' create a pretty garden path under the shade of white pine trees.

A Canopy Container Garden

A custom-built table around the base of a tree creates a unique spot for potted plants and hardy ferns at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tenn. We wouldn't mind kicking back in those rocking chairs, either!

Create Shade with a Pergola

This living pergola shades the garden for reading on a bench or for enjoying the natural beauty of the setting.

Colorful Coral Bells

Shade gardens don't have to skimp on color. Heucheras come in a wide variety of colors—from chartreuse to red to purple to pink—and can be paired with other vibrant foliage plants like foamflower (Tiarella) or hosta varieties.

Hosta Pots

Group pots together on a summer patio or terrace. The leaves from the individual plants will help shade each other, keeping their roots cool.

Newly Planted Shade Garden

Hostas, bugleweed and fern rub shoulders and thrive along a new stone path. A mix of good soil and smart placement make this young shade garden look like it's been there forever.

Throwing Some Shade

By combining hardy ferns, ligularia, variegated Solomon's seal and others, there's no denying that this would be a sweet spot to relax on a hot summer day.

Grow Lettuce

Lettuces need cool temperatures and low-light to thrive, making them a great edible addition to a shade garden. Try growing cut-and-come-again salad mixes in pots at the edges of your garden for a visual treat and easy harvesting access.

Tropical Retreat

This Jamie Durie makeover quickly turned a shady yard into an asset by including lush tropical plants separated by concrete pavers, a floating lounge and daybed. 

Summer Shade Flowers

Some varieties of summer flowers will thrive in partial shade, such as viburnum and flowering tobacco.