Plants That Thrive in the Shade: Planting a Shade Garden

Planting a Shade Garden

Many a gardener was taught that the majority of plants love and require sunshine, but what do you plant in your yard in shady areas? People love to seek some cool shade on a warm summer day. Like people, there are a variety of plants that thrive in the shade.

There are three types of shaded areas: partial shade, dappled shade and blocked shade. Partial shade is when an area only receives about half a day’s worth of sunlight, usually 3-4 hours in the morning. Dappled shade is light shade that reaches the ground when it’s filtered through the trees. Blocked shade is when an area is completely blocked by a fence, building, or other object.

The most common types of plants that work well in a shade garden are shrubs and perennials. Keep in mind that there are many different types and categories of plants that will work in a shaded area of your yard, we are just going over a few options. See your local nursery or contact a landscape designer for other suggestions.

Shrubs for your shade garden:


  • 2 tone green, waxy leaves
  • Broadleaved evergreen-stays green all year
  • Prone to frost damage when over-watered in the fall
  • Height: 2-5’ Spread: 2-4’
  • Medium water use

Planting A Shade Garden


  • Broadleaved evergreen
  • Wide variety of leaf shapes and colors
  • Some can be sheared into hedges
  • Height: 2-5’ Spread: 4-6’
  • Medium water use

Planting a Shade Garden


  • Broadleaved evergreen
  • Dark green leaves with bright colored berries and flowers
  • Spiny leaves-take caution
  • Height: 2-6’ Spread: 2-6’
  • Medium water use

Planting A Shade Garden


  • Shade loving plant
  • Loses leaves in the winter
  • Topped with huge showy clusters of white/green flowers
  • Height: 2-3’ Spread: 2-3’
  • Medium water use

Planting A Shade Garden


  • Broadleaved evergreen-emerald-green foliage
  • Requires protection from winter winds/not ideal for high altitude
  • Bright green growth in spring and orange-red berries in fall
  • Height: 4-15’ Spread: 5-8’
  • Medium water use

Planting a Shade Garden

Perennials that thrive in shade:

Sweet Woodruff

  • Fragrant white flowers
  • Ideal for areas under trees or along walk ways
  • Star shaped leaves
  • Height: 6-12” Spread: 18-24”
  • Low water use

Planting a Shade Garden

Bleeding Heart

  • Blooms late spring to early summer
  • Deer and rabbit resistant
  • Height: 24-36” Spread: 24-30”
  • Medium water use

Planting a shade garden


  • Multi-colored leaves
  • Smaller in size
  • Does well in full shade or sun
  • Height: 12-24” Spread: 12”
  • Medium water use

planting a shade garden


  • Invasive ground cover
  • Evergreen, glossy, oval leaves
  • Ideal for dappled areas of shade
  • Height: 4-6” Spread: 24-48”
  • Low water use

planting a shade garden

Almost every yard and garden has a shaded or partially shaded area and with the proper research and enough effort, you can have a beautiful variety of plants that will thrive. For more information on how Timberline Landscaping can assist you with your landscape, view our Residential Landscape Design and Construction page or contact us.