Planning Landscape for Shady Areas

You'll have it made in the shade with these plants

Garden of coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides) and wax begonias (Begoniaceae) at Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon, USA
Danita Delimont / Getty Images

To plant successfully in shady areas, you need a landscape plan tailored accordingly. You need to follow a shade landscape plan and make your plant selections fit the environmental conditions in your planting bed. Planning before planting is the hallmark of effective landscape design.

Choosing the Right Plants

Plant failure in landscaping is often due to a plant's being situated somewhere in the yard where it doesn't belong. We fall in love with a plant at the nursery and buy it, without thinking in terms of the plant's sunlight requirements -- and whether or not we can meet those requirements in our yards. After bringing the plant home, we plant it where there's space available, rather than in a spot conducive to the plant's health.

Don't try to force a square peg into a round hole: select shade-tolerant plants for shady areas!

Sample Plant Selection and Layout

Plants should be "layered," with the tallest being placed up against the backdrop of a fence or border, furthest from the viewer's eye; while the shortest plants should be closest to the viewer, with the mid-sized plants in between. Here is an example of shade-tolerant plants listed row by row: