Shade Gardens: Getting Started

A shady yard can be a huge asset during the dog days of summer. Shade provides a much-needed escape from sweltering sunlight and helps keep outdoor spaces cool so that you, your family, and your four-legged friends can relax and enjoy the season more comfortably. But, for gardeners and landscapers, shade has often been an enemy to flowers and shrubs. Popular garden plants like rose, marigold, and daisy just can’t thrive in shady climates. However, that doesn’t mean that sunless parts of your yard have to become boring dead spots. Building a shade garden is easy, fun, and can add interest and beauty to even the most sun-starved yards. There are shade-loving plants to fit almost anyone’s taste and budget. Here are some starting points to get you planting:

A shade garden doesn’t have to lack color and flare. There are many annuals that thrive in shady climates and produce bright, beautiful blooms. Pansies, forget-me-nots, and begonias are easy favorites considering their vibrancy and fortitude.


A number of perennials also thrive in shade: Azalea, primrose, foxglove, and the calla lilly are all colorful, long-lasting choices that will add beauty to your yard year-round.


If you’re going for more of a green, woodsy look, consider planting some shade-loving foliage. Wild ginger, English ivy, and wintercreeper have no problem living in the shade and are great additions to a flower-heavy garden. They can also adorn the shaded sides of houses for a particularly rustic look.

English Ivy

Shrubs can help fill-out a shade garden as well. Boxwood, hydrangea, mountain laurel, and rhododendron are just a few options to consider. These shrubs are hardy, durable, and produce colorful blooms of their own. Think about making a shade-tolerant shrub the centerpiece of your garden and then lining the outer edges with flowers. No one will ever accuse the shady parts of your yard of being dull again!

Mountain Laurel

For a longer list of shade-tolerant plants, check out: this link. Ultimately, shade gardens are just as customizable, flexible, and beautiful as traditional gardens. There are hundreds of options, arrangements, and combinations you can try. If any of you are working on a shade garden, we would love to hear about the creative designs you’ve come up with! Leave a comment and let us know what Roanoke Landscapes can do to help you with your gardening and landscaping needs!


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