Not Enough Sun in Your Yard? Try These Plants that Thrive in the Shade

Bleeding heart plant in bloom, with pink heart-shaped flower

Are you considering adding some plants to your landscape, but you're not sure they will survive because the area is mostly covered in shade? You may have already tried some options that just didn’t work. Well, don’t give up hope of having a ‘green thumb’. Instead, consider using foliage, flowering plants, or ground cover that can thrive in shaded areas.  

We have some shady landscaping ideas (we mean that in a good way) to share that could improve your chance of success.  These three categories of plants, flowers, and ground cover will grow successfully even if they don’t get much sun: 

Shady Front Yard Landscaping Ideas 

Shady Plants 

Consider using shade friendly foliage. These plants will not only grow in full shade, but they also display a beautiful leafy appearance that works well to fill in empty spaces in and around your existing landscaping. 

  • Hostas - Perfect for gardens that are shaded and have moist soil. You can find Hostas in a variety of sizes, starting with sizes as small as 4 inches to as big as 6 feet long. Some examples of these would be Sum and Substance, and Mouse Ears. 
  • Ferns - Ferns thrive in environments where light shade is present. They come in an array of lacy forms and grow outward to form a beautiful ground cover over time. Two types of ferns to try are Autumn and Japanese Painted ferns. 
  • Coralbells – Display airy flower spikes on wiry stems atop low-growing, foliage. Some types feature dark purple leaves that make for stunning ground covers against a green background. The tiny flower spikes don’t distract from the plants around them, which makes them a great option for the frontlines of your garden or landscaping.  
  • Caladium – These plants sport leaves that grow in heart shape designs. This plant can be a little temperamental, so it is important to read its label to make sure it doesn’t require a lot of sun. Some examples of these are fittingly named Heart to Heart, Blushing Bride, and White Christmas. 
  • Japanese Forest Grass – A slender stem plant with bright yellow leaves that is ideal for brightening partly-shaded or dark-colored gardens. Also makes for a great accent beside water gardens or at the base of an arbor posts. An excellent Asian-garden plant.  

Related Topic: Is Your Landscaping Getting Enough Water?

Sun Shy Flowers  

If you are looking for a more colorful appearance, these flowering plants that grow in shade are a good choice. These types of plants can add a pop of color to a dark, shaded area of your property. 

  • Foam Flower - The foamflower is a native wildflower that displays a variety of foamy white to pinkish flowers that grow on long, thin stems. Some examples of these are Oakleaf, Brandywine, and Running Tapestry. 
  • Primrose – Available in stunning hues of blue, pink, red, yellow, and orange. They prefer rich, well-draining soil, regular water, and partial sun to deep shade, making them perfect for your shaded garden.  
  • Hellebore – These flowers have a long bloom time and display beautiful cup-shaped flowers and evergreen foliage. They're available in an array of colors ranging from pure white, to dark pink, to even black. These plants prefer rich, well-draining soil and tolerate varying light conditions. 
  • Astilbe – These fluffy flowers need shade to bloom and come in many shades including pale pink, creamy white, and hot pink. Some varieties of this species to try are Younique Carmine and Rise and Shine. 
  • Bleeding Heart – Named for its beloved heart-shaped flowers. This perennial loves the shade and produces a spectacular array of tall wands with dangling blossoms. 

Consider Ground Cover  

Ground cover is a great option for filling in areas of your landscaping that would normally be bare of foliage. These low-lying plants cover the surface of the ground and range for basic greenery to colorful arrangements. Most ground cover only grows a couple of inches tall and can form a dense cover that also helps protect soil from erosion. 

  • Sweet Woodruff – This aesthetically pleasing low, spreading groundcover grows well in rich and moist soil.  
  • Bunchberry – A unique ground cover plant that displays green foliage, white flowers, and tiny red fruits. 
  • Goldenstar – Display beautiful bright, yellow-gold flowers (thus the name), which bloom from Spring to Autumn. 
  • Trailing Periwinkle – Grows quickly to form a dense ground cover that features stunning blue, lavender, white, or purple flowers.  
  • Japanese Pachysandra – This ground cover thrives in partial to full shade and prefers well-drained, fertile soil. 

Professional Landscaping Assistance 

From shady front yard landscaping ideas to shady side yard landscaping ideas, knowing how to landscape a yard that gets a lot of shade can be the difference between landscaping the thrives and landscaping that dies.  

Whether your yards gets full sun, some sun, or very little sun, your local landscaping pros at The Grounds Guys can come up with a plan that will help your property look its absolute best all year long. And if you want to know how to grow grass in a shady yard, we can help you with that too! Contact us today to get started