A shady backyard doesn't have to be considered a problem area. A shade garden can add interest and color to an uninspired all-green canvas.
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Nearby honeysuckle will act as a shade canopy over the bed. The shade garden will be on the south side of the back yard, near a fence. The design is determined by forming the edge of the bed's perimeter with a garden hose.
Next, the bed's edge is cut. A sharp, flat edit shovel works fine, but Walter prefers a sharp half-moon hoe that easily cuts hard soil with pressure and a rocking motion.
It's important to consider soil improvement prior to planting. Some plants need organic matter, some do fine without it. In this demonstration, the soil sample was good, so the ground didn't require amending. Later, the bed will be finished with hardwood mulch, which will add nutrients and keep the soil from hardening.
This is a full-shade area. Full shade is a term used to describe an area receiving less than five hours of sunlight a day. In the spring, this area will get full sun, but after April -- when the trees have full green foliage -- this area becomes a full shade area.
When planting, the taller plants are positioned at the back of the garden. Because Walter is working in Zone 6, he'll have limited plant choices to work with. He starts at the back and works forward.
Here, Walter shares his choices:
Vibernum and Kerria
Chocolate Veil and Hydrangea
Ferns and Hostas
After all the plants are added -- including some Astilbe for color -- a 3" layer of hardwood mulch surrounds the flowers.