There can be a tendency to believe that shade is bad for a garden and that such a garden will be difficult or impossible to develop properly. However, fortunately, this is not the case – while the shade does bring some challenges with it, it will not prevent you from creating your own piece of paradise.
Patios and footpaths
Creating footpaths and patios will be the same as in any other garden, the only difference will be in the choice of materials.
It’s best to use slabs, pavers or whatever you prefer in a bright colour that will help to bring light to the space. Off-white and light grey are ideal colours for stone materials. Similarly, if you decide you’d like a wooden decking, choose a light wood and make sure to use treatment products that won’t darken the material.
Mulching consists of putting gravel, pebbles or plant material on top of the soil surrounding plants. The idea of it is to limit the growth of weeds and to maintain the humidity of the soil.
Just as for the patios and footpaths, you should go for brighter colors in order to reflect light, as well as to highlight your beautiful plants. You can buy pure white gravel, but just be aware that they can get dirty very easily. Perhaps better would be to use the light grey or ivory versions.
While most plants like to feel the sun on their petals for healthy growth, there are many who thrive just as well in more shaded places.
Depending on your garden’s exposure to the sun, you should choose plants that grow well in either full shade or half shade. Also remember that if your shade is caused by trees, the soil below them will often be dry, so don’t take opt for plants that like a good drink!
After taking all of this into consideration, try to choose plants with light-coloured foliage: light green, cream or yellow in colour – avoiding darker colours such as purple.
Use the same idea when it comes to choosing flowers, picking colours that stand out for their clarity, such as white, light pinks, or yellow.
Growing grass in a shady garden can be problematic, especially as this is the ideal breeding ground for moss. So bear in mind that if you really want to have a grass lawn, it will be necessary to get rid of potential moss infestations up to several times a year.
This problem can be reduced by:
- raising the pH of the soil, so that the growing conditions favour the grass and not the moss;
- fertilising the lawn and keeping it fed with the right nutrients;
- increasing drainage of the lawn.
Moss is actually a side-effect of an unhealthy lawn, so if you can make up for the lack of sunlight by improving all other growing conditions for your lawn, you should be able to significantly reduce moss issues.
On the other hand, you could avoid these problems altogether by using artificial turf instead. It may be more expensive, but it requires almost no maintenance, and could be considered a good alternative to a natural lawn.
If your garden is surrounded by walls, one solution could be to paint them in a light (or even a luminous) colour. This can have the effect of reflecting what little light they receive to make your space seem that little bit brighter.
You can use a mirror (or garden ornament with a mirrored surface) to reflect the light and create an additional natural-looking light source for your garden. Just position it in parallel to the sun to direct its rays wherever you desire.
A pond will reflect the sky and all the light that comes from it, thus greatly brightening a previously dreary-looking garden. It works regardless of how deep it is, as it’s essentially acting as a mirror. The only issue you may have is if you have trees directly above it, as the sky must be visible for this little trick to work.