Garden Advice

15 Plants for Shady Areas in Your Garden

Do you have a shady garden? Does your little paradise require special attention when it comes to planting the right varieties and organising your flowery display in areas with more shade? All types of green life need different things from Mother Nature in order to survive.

And if you learn to listen to your garden’s needs, you will be rewarded in the end. In this article, the Fantastic Services team will share with you a list of plants for shady areas. 

Table of Contents

So if you:

  • wish to make your own shade garden,
  • want to learn about the different types of plants for shade gardens,
  • need some useful tips on how to incorporate various shade garden ideas into your landscape design,

Then keep reading! You’ve come to the right place! 

How does shade affect your garden?

Many people think that their outdoor plants will suffer if situated in an area with restricted exposure to sunlight. Shade affects your garden and your plants but this is not necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of flowers, bushes, trees, and types of grass that are accustomed to growing in shade conditions and will flourish beautifully with proper care. 

To learn how to make use of the shade, make a map of your garden before you start planting. This will take a full day. Check your garden every hour or two and draw where the light falls during different hours of the day. This will help you a lot when choosing plants that will be suitable for your garden.

Plants for shady areas in your garden

Having a shady garden brings out a lot of opportunities for planting design. But did you know that there are different types of shade? Each type has its own set of traits and opportunities for different plant life. Keep reading to find out what plants to grow in different shady areas.

Plants for full shade

This area gets no sunlight or up to 2 hours of sunlight per day. It’s the most restrictive type of shade when it comes to planting. It’s usually due to a dense evergreen tree, a dark corner, some overgrown shrubberies or an overhanging building. Full shade leads to lower sugar production in plants and reduced growth and flowering. 

Still, this is only applicable to plants which are not accustomed to those conditions and there are plenty of them that can grow without a problem.

Wood spurge

Mark Heighes/

Golden Shield Fern

Popa Ioana Mirela/

Wood millet


Dry shade plants

Dry shade occurs when there is a tree with large leaves and shallow roots. The leaves prevent direct sunlight from reaching the soil and shelter it from the rain. The ground receives less moisture and the shallow root system of the tree sucks up whatever little water there is. It could also happen at the foot of walls where foundations draw water from the soil. If the walls face away from the direction of the wind, little to no rain reaches the ground. 

This soil needs plenty of different organic matter like leaf-mould or garden compost to increase moisture absorption and retention properties. You can also add some mulch around the base of the plants when the soil is damp. Here are the plants that would benefit the most from dry shade:

Garden Lady’s mantle


Common bleeding-heart

Pavla Kafka/

Perforate St.John’s wort


Japanese quince

Ekaterina V. Borisova/

Common foxglove


Plants for damp shade

You can find these shady spots in woodland regions or in gardens near water. Most of the time, it’s a natural water source. Damp shade provides far better conditions for planting various low-maintenance plant species than dry shade. The soil in those places is very often clay. Dig in lots of organic matter like well-rotted manure or compost. If you have a heavy clay soil type, mix some sand in to improve drainage. Mulch is also a must every year around springtime. Here are a few examples of plants for damp shade:


Nick Pecker/



Wild pansy


Partial shade plants

As the sun travels around the Earth, it lights up different areas in your garden, from three to six hours a day in midsummer. This means that your plants will get some good sunlight for a couple of hours a day and rest comfortably in the shade after that. Plenty of flowers and shrubs thrive in these conditions.

Japanese anemone


Siberian Iris Robert


Goat’s beard Algirdas




How to care for a shade garden

Below you will find some useful tips on how to bring out the best features of those shady areas and how to play with light and colours.

  • Incorporate plants with different leaf textures. This is as important as planting bright-coloured flowers. Different textures create interest and will effortlessly attract the eye to the once invisible, shady garden area. Ferns and hostas are perfect for this as they have an amazing texture contrast.
  • Choose the correct type of lawn. Depending on the type of shade, different turf seed varieties will be suitable to create a thriving and “happy” lawn area.
  • Use colours. Understand the strength of different colours and learn to combine them. Dark colours get even darker in the shade and the bright ones become even brighter. The human eye perceives colours differently, depending on how well they are lit. We tend to see more details of items and fixtures when in shade, so choose plant varieties that stand out when planted in low-light areas. Contrasting darks with lights creates visual excitement.
  • Take care of your soil. Trees and shrubs have feeder roots, which can compete with those of smaller plants, using up their nutrients. Make sure to use an organic, balanced fertilizer so that the soil fertility stays intact.
  • Don’t forget to mulch! The best way to do it is to add three to six inches of organic mulch. It will enrich the soil over time, by providing it with the right nutrients, by helping you retain soil moisture, and by preventing weeds from growing.
  • Add a water feature. A small pond, a fountain or even a ceramic pot filled with water. The flowing stream will add a relaxing note to the atmosphere and the still water will attract butterflies, dragonflies, and birds in your garden.

In a desperate need of professional garden maintenance?

Arranging your garden takes a lot of time and effort. So, if you would like to make your life easier and just enjoy the results without all the digging, planting and turfing, you can always book one of the Fantastic professional gardening teams to help you out.

They will do all the hard work and could even supply you with the plant varieties of your choice, upon request. This way, you won’t have to worry about where to buy everything from or wonder whether the plants are right for your specific garden.

Having garden trouble?

Fantastic Services is here for you!

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  • Even a shady garden can be home to lots of beautiful eye-catching plants;
  • There is full, partial, dry, and damp shade. Understanding the types of shade is critical to creating a flourishing garden;
  • Investing in shade-loving plants does not exclude the need for garden care. You still have to improve the soil and organise your landscape effectively.


How shady are your gardens? Which are your favourite plants for shady areas you would like to have in your garden? Let us know in the comments and share your garden shade-related problems, so we can shed some light on their solutions!

Header image source: Shutterstock / Jamie Hooper

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