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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Making Shade Work for You

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Joyce Friels

Local Gardening


Your front yard is full of bright sunshine and your sun-loving plants are blooming and happy!  This makes for good curb appeal; however, you spend most of your leisure time in the back yard, which is very shady.  Shade is a relaxing place and nice to have when grilling and entertaining family and friends.  But, you would like it to be a more welcoming place to entertain or to just relax with family.  Let’s see how to make shade work for you.

Walk out into your backyard early one morning.  Do you see any sun shining anywhere in the yard?  Is it partially shady, completely shady, or dappled (sun shining through the leaves and branches of the trees lighting up some of the ground?)  Do this in the middle of the day and again in late afternoon.  Make note of how much sun is showing, what time of day it is, where the sun is landing and how long does it shine in those areas.  Are these areas: in the middle of yard, along the side of house, close to the patio, or near the trees? This will change with the time of day.  Another point to consider, what area would have the best view when relaxing or entertaining. All this information is important in determining where you could place the focal point.

Is there enough sunlight to support shade tolerant plants to give you some col-or?  There are several native plants that will bloom in sun or shade, giving you some color to your shady landscape.  Check out the local nurseries to see what plants are available to give you the effect you want. Don’t forget green and white leaved plants, like liriope (lilyturf), hosta (variegated), asparagus fern, and Aztec grass.  For color, you can choose: bugleweed, lamium, caladiums, begonias, shrimp plant, New Guinea Im-patiens, and periwinkle (vinca minor).  Perhaps some native plants that will bring but-terflies and hummingbirds is an option.  Shade tolerant native plants that will provide color are: Texas Betony, Turk’s Cap, Pigeonberry, Cedar Sage, Salvia coccinea, Ma-jestic Sage or Ruellia (dwarf Mexican Petunia). These varieties will bring in the butter-flies and hummingbirds!

Another question, do the trees lose their leaves in the fall?  If so, consider plant-ing some spring blooming bulbs such as daffodils.  They will bloom early spring and give you some happy color.  September would be a chance to plant the fall blooming plants to carry the landscape through the winter: Mums, snapdragons, pansies, or cyc-lamens.

After careful planning and some manual labor, the most fun is selecting the new plants for your shady backyard.   Having the right plants will transform your backyard from gloomy to a place that is inviting.  You will look forward to entertaining friends and fam-ily anytime!


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