|Issue #368 - June 28, 2012|
Planting a Shade Garden
If your yard doesn't get the necessary sunlight to grow a regular garden, don't worry - many plants thrive under shady conditions and can quickly transform your landscape into a lush garden oasis. Plus, because shade gardens require less maintenance than sunny ones, you'll have more time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Choosing Your Site
The first step in establishing a shade garden is deciding where to place it. Do you want an intimate setting in the corner of your yard or would you like it featured along a walkway? Before selecting a site you should keep in mind the many elements that will affect your shade garden, including soil quality, drainage, existing structures, and trees or hedges that may battle your new plants for water and nutrients.
Types of Shade
Light is critical to the health of any plant and even shade garden plants will generally require at least some type of sunlight during the day (usually in the morning). Shady spots can be divided into five different levels of shade:
If your property is wooded, your soil is probably rich in organic matter created by tree trunks and fallen leaves or branches. However, areas under trees can have lifeless soil, particularly if the soil is root infested or the ground is covered with pine needles.
To improve the soil, add two parts humus (compost, leaf mold, or peat moss) to one part sand and one part clay soil. Thoroughly work the mixture into the soil with a sharp spade. The humus will make the soil light and porous, the coarse sand helps to ensure good drainage, and the clay will provide necessary nutrients.
Since this is a shade garden, be sure to choose plants that love the shade and pay attention to the kind of shade the plants prefer. Some plants will do well in light shade, while others thrive in partial or full shade, so check the plant tag, our online catalog, or ask one of your garden professionals for help.
Since a limited number of shade plants flower, the focus should be on foliage. Instead of blooms, you should plan your garden around contrasting foliage and textures. If one of your goals is to brighten up the space, look for plants with variegated foliage.
Due to the wide variety of colors, forms and textures, perennials are a popular choice for shady areas. While Ferns and Hostas remain the kings of the perennial shade garden, many varieties of Astilbe will provide brilliant blooms and thrive in the shade.
When everything is in place, fill in the bare spots with colorful shade-loving annuals such as impatiens, begonias, and coleus.
By following these simple steps, you'll have a beautiful new garden that you can enjoy all season long while lounging in the summer shade!
The Value of Curb Appeal
Landscaping adds real value to your home by improving "curb appeal" - that important first impression that visitors (and maybe potential buyers) take away with them.
According to the Gallup Organization, landscaping can add 7 to 15 percent to a home's value.
You can also consider new landscaping a home improvement. Money Magazine says that landscaping can bring a recovery value of 100 to 200 percent at selling time.
In addition to a financial windfall, properly designed landscaping can also provide practical low cost solutions for a number of site problems. Plants prevent erosion, block the wind, provide shade, reduce noise and increase privacy.
A landscape's value, where real estate prices are concerned, is directly related to size and permanence. A mature tree can have an appraised value of $1,000 - $10,000 according to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers.
Trees add the most value followed by flowering shrubs. A good strategy is to plant a combination of trees, shrubs, and perennials. As trees and shrubs mature, remove the perennials. Be judicial in your plant placement though and consider how large your trees and shrubs will be in 10 years.
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