Creating a shadow garden with shrubs – you have to pay attention to that

A shadow garden can be designed romantically. Before it is applied, the lighting conditions must be observed and the ground well prepared.

Heather and wood stump
© PhotoSG –

A shady garden can sometimes become a curse for the hobby gardener. He doesn’t have to. Because if it is also less advantageous for vegetable growing, it can always be a blessing as a romantically designed shadow garden. Flowering shrubs and shadows do not contradict each other. Even under trees, forest shrubs such as ferns, anemones, elfin flowers or golden strawberries thrive.

Groundcovers are recommended for a fully shaded area. Evergreen or ivy are ideal for this and are easy to care for. There are also light moments in a shadow garden.

Especially in the interplay of light and shadow, many flowering shrubs unfold their full beauty.

Before you create a shadow garden, observe how the lighting conditions change over the course of the day on the intended area. These will help you to make the right choice of perennials.

Shady areas do not enjoy the sun more than two to three hours a day. In half-shade, it’s four to five hours.

1A good plan …

© toa555 –

Creating a shadow garden from your gut feeling is so easy, it can end up chaotic. Therefore it is advisable to work out a concept and make a sketch. This should include:

  1. Stock of trees and shrubs and adjoining buildings
  2. Results of your observation of lighting conditions.
  3. Course of future paths in the shadow garden. Stepping stones can also be used instead of paths
  4. Sketch where which perennials should be planted, with details of the flowering time.
  5. You list the selection of the planned perennials separately. This will help you with your shopping.

2Good soil…

© hikrcn –

Under the trees there are a number of shallow roots. Their roots compete with the smaller shrubs for space, water and nutrients. Groundcovers and ferns have proven themselves under these conditions. However, the soil must be well prepared before planting.

➯ Planting under trees

  1. Thoroughly remove weeds from the ground below the tree. Be careful with this. Do not damage the roots of the tree with a spade.
  2. Large gaps between the roots can be loosened. You mark these with small bars.
  3. Now apply about 15 centimetres of compost over the entire surface of the soil. The compost is distributed in such a way that approximately 20 centimeters remain free around the tree trunk.
  4. Before planting, place the perennials in water for 5 to 10 minutes. The root balls are thus well moistened. This promotes the growth of the perennials.
  5. Water your young shrubs thoroughly and cover the shrub bed with a 5 cm thick layer of bark mulch.

➯ In the half shade set

  1. Thoroughly remove weeds from the soil.
  2. The soil is treated with compost soil
  3. As planned, the paths are laid out for the shadow garden or the stepping stones are laid out.
  4. Plant the shadow garden according to the planting plan you have worked out. Before you do this, water the root balls of the shrubs for about 10 minutes.
  5. Finally, the perennial beds are covered with a 5 cm layer of bark mulch.

3Make a good choice …

When selecting the perennials, you should make sure that the leaf shapes, structures and colours bring a well-thought-out, natural and varied balance to your shade garden. You can find a selection of popular perennials for shady areas in our article Schattenstauden: beliebte Pflanzen vorgestellt.

Further suggestions can be found in this video:


Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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