Shady area---not much will grow---what can I do?

joannembJuly 19, 2010

I am in the process of deciding what to do with the back part of my yard. As discussed in another thread, I'm considering a hedge of hydrangeas (I'm thinking annabelle at the moment) along the fence which is about 4 ft. high. My dilemma is how to incorporate that hedge into some sort of beds on the side. The problem is that on both sides I have magnolia trees that hang down quite a bit (which I like) and shade the corner so much that grass doesn't even grow there. Right now the left side (see first pic) is a mess of weeds (mostly archangel lamium that must have creeped in from my neighbor's yard.)

I like pachysandra quite a bit (anything associated with old english gardens...boxwood, roses, etc.) and wouldn't mind a patch of it there, but would it look silly---just this huge patch of pachysandra? It's quite large... I think filling it with hosta would be expensive... what other types of low shrubs would grow in that much shade?

Any design ideas? Thanks so much! btw I'm in zone 5b

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I don't think pachysandra looks silly in large patches..quite the opposite! You could do a large bed of it with a nice curvy line and break it up with some shade liking flowering shrubs(rhodos, azaleas?)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 6:22PM
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    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 8:03PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

This thread has a couple of photos of large pachysandra beds (photos 3 and 4), to show you what a whole swath of it looks like:

Rather than make a long hedge of hydrangeas, I'd use various shrubs: seven hydrangeas here, five viburnums farther long the fence, three mountain laurel, then five hydrangeas, etc. Every so often, I'd add a shorter shrub (or one of the same kind) in front of the row along the fence. That way it would look more natural and less like a hedge. YMMV.

I'm not a hosta fan, but I inherited 30+ from the previous owner: a long row running around two sides of the house. I was able to give most of them away, but the three remaining keep having babies.... Anyway, if you want inexpensive hostas, you might try Craigslist, Freecycle, local garden club sales, your County Extension people, the GW Hosta forum, and your local GW forum. Or buy a few, let them set seed, and after two or three years you'll have plenty -- at least, that's been my experience, and I'm not even trying to grow more.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 8:48PM
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I made a quick photoshop, it's not supposed to be any kind of professional design(LOL!) but maybe gives some idea?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 9:21PM
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sleepy33(5b KS)

Hardy ferns. Autumn, Japanese Painted, Christmas, Cinnamon, Lady Fern, Marginal Wood Fern, Tassel Fern- all should be hardy in your zone, and some are evergreen.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 10:18PM
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If going with ferns, I would HIGHLY recommend ostrich ferns. They have the potential to reach 4/5' tall, reproduce themselves copiously, and generally do well in NEOhio. They require a little water in the hottest parts of the day, but nonetheless. They will provide a cool, breezy feeling anywhere.

Pachysandra would look lovely. Nothing wrong with a big patch of pachysandra as long as you keep it in bounds. It will want to take over, but as long as you keep it in the beds you make for it, it can look very nice.

I have found that coral bells do nicely in somewhat dry shade. You could try a few of those in the bed. Some nice variations (lime green, dark red) exist and combined would look great.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 12:15AM
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Wow--temes that is impressive! Very cool to see what the pach. would look like.... I like it! Thanks again everyone for the ideas

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 12:07PM
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If you need more sun, just prune the magnolias up a bit.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 12:26PM
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