Tips for Gardeners Planting (and Living!) in Low-Sun Areas

Tips for Gardeners Planting (and Living!) in Low-Sun Areas

This feature was brought to you by The Home Depot.

During my back patio makeover kickstart last weekend (click here for the pictures), I encountered a major setback in the planning process: a lack of products suitable for our patio area, which is both a morning-sun-only area – it’s on the east side of our house, and quite shaded – and, well, we live in Oregon (shade, anyone?).

I obviously knew that our garden is in a low-sun area, but I wish I’d done a little more homework before heading to Home Depot’s garden shop, as you really have to be careful about your choices. Here are some practical, hindsight is 20-20, tips for gardeners who are planting in a low-sun area.

low sun garden area

Plants are Picky

No matter how many of the plants that I loved, if they required lots of sun, I knew better than to waste my money – and you should know the same! Be sure to read the instructions, as flowering plants and shrubs are well-marked. My tip is to go in with a hitlist of plants that you know you’ll like and work for the space; if you’re heading for low-sun territory, a few options:

  • Go for Pretty in Pink! If you want a pop of color in that shady spot, two plants that will do well are bleeding hearts and fushias – both of which have vibrant pinks and purples. You don’t have to go without color in the shade.
  • How about some veggies? Root vegetables and leafy vegetables do well in shady areas, with the bonus of having fresh cooking ingredients for your kitchen. (Though if your vegetable patch is too shady, you’ll end up with undersized veggies. Not the worst problem in the world, but…
  • Do the bamboo. While you have to be careful not to let it run wild, bamboo adds a somewhat of a luxe feel to any outdoor space; it’s also hardy and will holdup in all weather conditions.
  • Add a touch of grace with a Japanese maple. If your flowering skills are just maxed out, how about a Japanese maple? It’s one of the most graceful trees you can plant, and it won’t get too large, perfect for smaller spaces. Make sure to keep it well watered!

low sun greenery

Planning Tips

Ok, so now that you’ve got loads of ideas for what to plant, what’s the plan? I encourage you think ahead about your space. A couple of more thoughts that have come to mind during our patio planning (and breaking our budget):

  • Furniture: It’s not just about having pretty things to look at, it’s also about a comfortable space to relax and enjoy in. Be sure to budget for furniture – I didn’t factor this in originally, and having scale back plans, since the budget is too tight, is no fun.
  • Lighting: If you’ve got a low sun outdoor space, you’ll need to think about lighting as well. I’m not so much a fan of tiki torches, but candles aren’t quite enough for our space – still trying to come up with some fresh ideas.

Do you have a gorgeous, low-sun outdoor space? We’d love to see it – please share it on our Facebook wall so our community can see your hard work!


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Tips for Gardeners Planting (and Living!) in Low-Sun Areas

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is the founder and creator of Plum Deluxe. He authors our award-winning weekly email newsletter, The Blend and curates our popular organic tea of the month club.

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