What can be planted in an urban shade garden?

gwtamaraJanuary 1, 2013

Posted by Jackie Fox: I have a townhouse with a back yard that is shaded by taller homes and a large oak tree. During the summer months the small yard receives very little direct sun. I live in northern New Jersey.

Kirk Johnson: Aren't Summers in your area hot? A splashing fountain would make it even more inviting. Ferns and foliage plants would make it seem cool and peaceful.

Lisa Kuhlen: Sounds like my garden. Be prepared for very little in the way of blooming things. I have lots of lovely greens, but few blossoms. Here's our plant list: In the sunniest areas, echinacea, valerian, some herbs (like chives), self-heal (nice plant, but DON'T let it go to seed). Astilbe, great lobelia, variegated hostas. In the deeper shade, bleeding heart, golden wood poppy, green hostas, sweet woodruff, sweet violets, english ivy, ferns (cinnamon, shaggy shield, christmas, leatherwood).

kathie hayden: I have full shade and I keep trying everything but what always works best is the hostas,coleus,

begonias, IMPATIENS (its nice that something with bright colors works!) Astilbe works too.

barbara: There's a nice book put out by Brooklyn Botanic Garden Record, "Gardening in the Shade". It contains lists of shrubs, vines, annuals, perennials, bulbs, moss, ground covers, etc.

d. scott: I recommend "The Natural Shade Garden" by Ken Druse. He includes several landscaping designs for shade gardens including the one behind his N.Y.C.townhome.

ruth anne: Check out 'Fine Gardening Magazine's' book called "Garden Rooms". also "Garden Design Ideas" and "Great Gardens". They have designs such as you describe that are to die for!! I think a spot such as yours would have so much potential as the oft desired "secret garden"!!

Shade Garden under High Deck

Posted by Mary Ellen Mulhern - 6: I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania and have a high deck off the first floor. Weeds grow under the deck so I assume plants would grow as well.

It is definitely a shady area and the soil seems dry. In the fall I planted hosta around the outside perimeter. What types of plants can I grow under this deck, which is fairly large? What about ferns?

Bill Hoppe (DC area Z7): If the bottom of the "header" and the joists that hold up the decking planks is at least 8 feet above the elevation of the space under the deck, and if that space is directly accessible from the basement via a regular door or a sliding glass door assembly, why not use the space for more practical purposes? I would hate to see it go to waste. You could pave part of it, surround that with plantings that tie in with the rest of your garden, and leave a 4' wide opening for a walk/path that leads out to the garden and, voila, you have a nice seating area!

Dressing up the posts that hold up the deck with some lattice work against which you can grow all kinds of vines (like clematis), would add a nice touch.

Sue Vanderhoff - 5: I also have a high deck. I have used lattice on the 3 sides. One piece is...

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