It can be difficult to get plants to grow in shady parts of a lawn, but rather than letting a barren wasteland accent shady areas, local experts have advice for homeowners.
County extension agent Rickey Roberts said homeowners should be selective in choosing plants for shaded areas.
“The hardest questions I get are when people tell me they can’t get anything to grow,” Roberts said. “You have to look at the environment a plant is in and sometimes it’s difficult to tell why things won’t grow because so many things go into it.”
He said shady areas under trees are not always the greatest places to try to grow plants.
“There is a lot of competition with the tree’s root system,” he said. “Trees sap up all the nutrients and it’s hard for another root system to survive. There are some that can survive but you have to really baby them.”
For people who want to grow grass under a tree or in other shady areas, he suggested they try a premium blend of fescue with multiple types of seeds.
“Chances are they all won’t work but several might grow in shady areas,” Roberts said.
Jana Dalke, owner of Serenity Gardens in Hillsboro, said there are a few shrubs, plenty of perennials, some annuals, and other options for shady areas.
Little Henry and Henry’s Garnet Sweetspire are popular shrubs that can do well in areas that get two hours or less of shade, she said. Little Henrys get to be about 2 to three feet tall and wide and Henry’s Garnet Sweetspires usually reach about five to six feet in height and diameter.
“People usually go for the Little Henry’s because they’re smaller shrubs and people don’t always have a lot of space in their lawns,” she said. “But each shrub likes a moist shade along a building a little ways away from trees where they are not competing for water and nutrients.”
A slow-growing, upright-rounded evergreen shrub called shamrock inkberry will take full shade, she said. Inkberry holly shrubs also take full shade.
A perennial flower called Lenten rose typically grows well in partial to full shade, she said.
“They are drought tolerant and bloom early, and can grow under trees,” Dalke said.
With a wide assortment of shapes and sizes of plants and their leaves, ferns are also good choices for shady areas, she said.
“Hostas are easily our most popular,” Dalke said. “There are so many varieties and they grow anywhere as long as they have moisture.”
Begonias, Torenia, Impatiens, Elephant Ears, and Coleus are some annuals that do well in shade, she said.
If people cannot get something to grow, she said many sometimes add a patio with benches, planters with annuals inside, or a bird bath to accent a shady area.