Shady areas can cause a lot of confusion for new gardeners. Can anything grow in shade? What plants will thrive in a shady area? Rest assured, there are plenty of beautiful plants that thrive in partial or full shade. This article shows a design piece I created for a shady area at the side of a house using raised beds.

Most gardens will have an area that is either in partial or full shade, especially given the proximity of buildings and neighbours. The suburbs are prime candidates for shady awkward gardens, as extensions and outbuildings are developed, the light sources can be broken up and shadows then cast. Don’t despair though, there are a whole series of plants that thrive in the shade and can brighten up that awkward dark area. I’ve written specifically about plants for shade here but this article in on a design challenge I was set to brighten up a dark shaded area near a clients garage.

Raised Beds for Shade

The client had a shaded section of the back garden which backed onto the drive and contained the garage. The area was a tarmac courtyard with little to no green interest other than a privet hedge. The client wanted to add height and interest to this area when looking out of the conservatory that adjoined it. They also wanted low maintenance with some movement and had specified a preference for lots of greenery to brighten up the otherwise dark unloved area of the drive. Garden Ninjas initial idea was why not used raised beds to brighten up this shady spot!

Shade raised beds before and after 1

Shady Solution

Using shade-loving plants and raised custom-built planters Garden Ninja gave the area a purpose and some excitement. There was a careful mix of herbaceous perennials such as Hostas as grasses to extend the season of interest. Pulmonaria was used for texture and some climbing plants used to scramble up the fence and increase greenery. The raised beds were handmade to the specific size of the driveway plot. They were then fitted, filled and planted within a day meaning the client left for work then came back and all the work was done!

Ferns make excellent shade loving plants

Utilising autumnal flowering clematis growing up the fence will keep some colour during the later part of the year. The Grasses and Hostas will tolerate shade whilst also providing variegated colours and movement in the breeze. The raised beds will warm up quickly in spring and require minimal attention throughout the year. Raised beds are an excellent choice where soil is poor or the space, such as flags or tarmac wont allow. There’s a full guide on making raised beds that I recently published to help those wanting to build their own raised beds.

Garden Ninja creating raised beds out of reclaimed teak decking boards

If you have a shady area why not consider some of the plant choices above or see in detail how I dealt with shade in my Garden SOS makeover here? Happy Gardening!

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Plants used for "Shade raised beds"

Plants for Shade
  • Hosta undulata
  • Dianella caerulea ‘Little Jess’
  • Festuca glauca
  • Micanthus zebrinus
  • Clematis armandii
  • Briza media (Snakehead grass)
  • Polystichum setiferum 'Herrenhausen'

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