Changing Attitudes About Shade Gardens
As neighborhoods in North Texas mature, areas that previously enjoyed sun and sun-loving plants experience shade most of the day from tall trees that block the sunlight. Alternatively, your landscape may be shaded by walls or fixed structures. Rather than fight a battle to keep turf grass growing in shade, consider these areas a great opportunity to create an area filled with shade-tolerant plants.
Shade plants do not have to be boring. There are shade-tolerant plants that flower and offer highly variable textures and colors. The secret to success is soil preparation and plant selection. If you wonder how shady your area is, Larry Hodgsod in Making the Most of Shade (Rodale Press, 2005) suggests the following test:
“Plant a petunia in the area in the spring. If the petunia puts on many flowers, you have a sunny location. If the plant does fairly well with a few flowers, you have partial shade. If the plant lives but you have no blooms at all, your area is full shade.”
It is important to know how shady the area into which you want to add plants is because selecting the wrong plants will frustrate you and waste money. Most nursery plants have tags that indicate the amount of sun needed for healthy growth either in the description or with a fully colored sun icon (full sun), half gray (partial shade) or all gray (complete shade).