Suggestions for Shade Shrubs

sandysoil_2008(6 MA)February 17, 2012

I've moved and there is no garden except for hydroseeded lawn. I'd like to have suggestions for shrubs that do well in the shade. They would be at the bottom of the yard under deciduous trees creating shade in the summer. I'm planing on putting a rhododendron in the right hand corner. The yard is now surrounded by a four foot black chain link fence. I'd like the shrubs to be about 4 to 6 feet tall. I'm south of Boston and the property backs up to wetlands. Thanks for any help.

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oath5(z6b/7a MD)

leuchothoe is a very underutilized native shrub with fragrant flowers. "Girard's Rainbow' is beautiful. They aren't terribly tall either. They LOOK much more exotic than they are. I'm in love with them.

You can also plant Illicium floridanum 'Pink Frost' and Illicium parviflorum 'Florida Sunshine' both native moisture lovers that are evergreen and hit the height you want. Could try the species Illicium parviflorum too.

It depends on what you are looking for style wise. There are dwarf oakleaf hydrangea , azaleas and other wonderful stuff you can play with.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 11:25PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

Get a copy of George Schenk's book, The Complete Shade Gardener. There are more recent hybrids and selections - cross reference with Michael Dirr for updates - of many of the things he recommends, but there's never been a better book about shade gardening in general with many, many shrub ideas.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 5:32AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

what direction is the pic facing???

simply stating that there is shade.. is not enough ... as what plants.. can tolerate what level of shade is what limits or expands your list of potential plants ...

what i suggest is on a sunny weekend.. you set a timer for one hour.. and gaze out there all day long... and see if it is truly all shade.. or if it waxes and wanes over the day ... [taking into account what trees might not have leaves on them right now]

next.. i think you need to start by defining what you want to do.. are you interested in putting a 6 foot bed out along the property line.. and creating a true garden... with the shrubs as a backbone.. or are you just thinking about putting some bushes in the grass ...

it is a false dream.. on some level.. to just make a list of plants.. and run to the bigboxstore and stick them in the ground ...

btw .. are you suggesting that you now have fence similar to the neighbor???

and what are the large trees behind.. i think i see pine ... what else ... it might matter .. if root competition is fierce ....

i think delineating a goal.. is a better place to start.. rather than just a simple list ...

not that i like making assignments .. but if whaas pops in.. he might be able to post some of his drawings to show how he defined his goals .... [and i suggest this, only because i have seen his drawings other places on GW]

good luck


    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 9:14AM
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sandysoil_2008(6 MA)

Thanks for the responses.

Oath5, your suggestions are great - shade and moisture lovers and evergreen!

Mainegrower, I'll look for that book.

Ken, the view is looking directly south. Right now because there are no leaves on the trees, there is some sun in that area. I don't know what type of trees they are - a few pines but mostly deciduous. I'll identify them when they put out leaves. Yes, the fence does match the neighbor's.

There will be perennial beds along the fence in front of the shrubs but I wanted to concentrate on the shrubs since they need to go in first. I've already finished wintersowing my perennials.

I will also be putting in sun-loving shrubs closer to the house where they will get sun year round and more perennial beds as well as a veggie patch. This is going to be a busy year but I love to garden so no problem!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 12:31PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

on second look ...

with what you have there already.. from nature.. i am wondering why you want to infringe on your small yard.. with shrubs inside the fence???

think long and hard.. about working with what is there.. ITS FREE ... lol ... its a natural .. gorgeous background for whatever you dream about in front of it ...

and do understand.. that most shrubs ... that get to 6 feet.. really dont magically stop at 6 feet.. and will continue in height.. unless you practice REJUVENATION PRUNING on an annual basis .. once they get to height ...

i have seen rural homesteads with 20 foot tall by 40 foot wide lilacs ... because no one has tamed them over the decades ... and a lot of rhodies also have that potential ... [i swear you mentioned lilac.. but i must have dreamed that part]

you have a created a box.. you seem to be in it.. and all i am trying to do.. is make you look outside your box.. should you wish to stay inside it.. that is fine with me... just playing devils advocate and offering alternatives ...

good luck


    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 1:39PM
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sandysoil_2008(6 MA)

Ken, thanks for the feedback. Yes, it looks nice and woodsy in the summer but not so much in the winter. I'm adding a photo that I took today. The reason that I want shrubs inside the fence is to 1) hide the chain link fence so the garden will seem to blend into the woods, 2) create some winter interest, and 3) to help with creating wide beds to cut down on lawn. I'm not a fan of lawn! The yard is bigger than it looks. There's quite a bit of area to the left and a bit to the right.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 4:56PM
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sandysoil_2008(6 MA)

So here's what I have done. I planted two Rhododendron Roseums, an Oakleaf hydrangea 'Little Honey', a Pieris Japonica 'Valley Rose', two Pieris Japonica 'Scarlett O'Hara', a leucothoe 'Girard's Rainbow', and a Mountain Laurel 'Sarah'. I left enough room to allow the shrubs to grow to mature size. Right now, I'm planting hostas, foxglove and astilbes in the area in front of the shrubs. When that's done, I'll cover any grass left within that area with newspaper and mulch.

Any comments or suggestions would be welcome

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Round up and mulch >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> newspaper and mulch

I ended up nearly starting over on a long bed I used newspaper and mulch on last year. 3-4 applications of round up this spring before it was ready for a layer of mulch. This is after newspaper and mulch last year nearly immediately failed to keep the various grasses out. Johnson grass (which I have eradicated from the surrounding area) was first to poke holes in the wet newspaper and the bermuda was quick to follow.

That's all I've got for ya! I think your place is gonna look GREAT when the shrubs/perennials get established.

Don't forget to visit us with update pics once you get it all put in :)


    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 4:59PM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

Great start! Can't wait to see it with the hosta, etc. Just be sure to water-hosta and especially astilbe are water hogs!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 7:56PM
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I'll be curious to see how that Little Honey does- I ordered one earlier this year then upon reading how much protection it needed I made an emergency phone call and canceled it.
They don't have a reputation as a very thrifty plant.

And you might as well make the entire perimeter a bed- you know you want to and will do it eventually anyway. That mowing and weedeating around every little plant is going to get tedious. I'd scatter some conifers around for year round bones and some understory trees for more structure. Then in the coming years you can add perennials and bulbs and have a dandy garden.
Fun times !

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 2:35PM
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What a lovely area! What would look great would be a 4' tall stone wall instead of that chain link fence.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 2:47PM
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What a gorgeous backdrop you have for your garden! I hope to see pictures as your garden matures.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 1:43PM
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sandysoil_2008(6 MA)

Thanks for the comments.

John, I've had success using newspaper in my veggie plot but this is the first time I've used newspaper on sod. I found a source on Freecycle for used rabbit litter with lots of bunny poop in it so I'm using that on top of the newspaper. It's not as attractive as mulch but better for the soil.

Cyn427, this area backs up to wetlands so it shouldn't need too much supplemental watering.

Cearbhaill, so far Little Honey is doing well. Not sure what problems you're concerned about. I've already started with the perimeter bed and have planted some conifers. I planted a peach tree and a dogwood in the center of the yard to create more shade area. The perennials are already going in.

Plantingman, I agree - I'd love a stone wall but expense is a major factor. Also, the chain link is a better obstacle to keep the coyotes out and away from my little dog.

Almondstriations, Thank you - I'll post more photos later.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 10:50AM
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