Shade Garden Design

Shade garden designs are concepts where a gardener can grow plants and trees in areas that are exposed to sunlight for less than six hours a day, or shady areas in cold, hot, or dry climates.


Typically, most articles, books, and other literature on shade gardening focus on shade loving plants and the various kinds of shade that suits different plants.

Another vital aspect in designing shade gardens, and an important factor that you must also know, is the general climate of the region.

Most plants shade preferences would be altered by the kind of climate in which they are grown.

Among climates, the most common ones are:

Hot and Dry

These are arid kinds of areas with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. In such regions, even full sun loving plants may need some shade to relieve them from the excessive heat. If your house is in such an area, the shade requirements of you plants tend to dramatically increase.

If you have light shade plants, you can move them to full shade regions and so on. If you do not have enough shade in your garden, you must look to add artificial filters and shades to protect your plants.

Try Shade Sails to increase protection from the sun.

Cloudy and Humid

This is typical European or Mediterranean climate. It is characterized by clouds throughout the year. These climates are shady and humid. Due to limited sunlight, you would be looking to move the plants to a shade level lower.

So your full shade plants would survive best in light shade areas and the light shade plants in say a part shade environ. The best part of such climates is that they tend to stay more or less constant.

This means that your plants are exposed to a relatively constant weather year round. This is certainly favourable for the plants and for the gardener. However, the need for sunlight is increased and your shade garden design would revolve around that.


This is an equally challenging climate. Though sunlight and heat concerns may not be as much of a concern, a windy climate is still hostile for garden plants.

High winds have been known to uproot large trees, so delicate shade garden plants are at serious risk in such climates. The primary focus of the gardener is to protect the plants from strong gushes of wind. You can opt for man-made shelters or fencing, or something like hedging that can lessen the impact of wind.

If you want to do it naturally, you can look to create a buffer zone of some strong and tall standing trees that can be a wind break against the strength of strong winds.

Cold and Snowy

These areas are as bad as the dry arid regions. With snow covering everything there is nothing much you can do with your garden. However, if it does snow, it is good to let the snow stay on the plants as it acts like a kind of insulation against the cold, a bit like a blanket.

Ironic as it may seem, this snow can help protect plants from harsh winter temperatures and winds so that they can survive and grow back in spring. If you have potted plants, it is a good idea to move them to some place warmer like the garage for the winter.

You must be aware of your climate and/or regional and local weather conditions when choosing your plants and designing your garden.

Shade Garden Design Books

Designing a Perennial Garden

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