The Q&A Archives: Shrubs In Shady Soil

Question: I live on a very wooded (hardwoods) lot, on a tidal river. The lot is very shaded, and usually very damp. The previous owners tried no less than 5 times to dig up and completely reseed the grass, and could get nothing to grow.

This past weekend, I pulled out all the shrubbery - or at least what was left of it - across the front fo the house. It seems to me that there was simply not enough sun to keep them alive. They were all yellow, spindly and clearly dying.

As my loved one believes it necessary for shrubs to conceal the foundation on the front of the house, I am now charged with finding something to plant there - preferably something that will GROW and not die - which brings me to my question:

What type of evergreen shrubbery will survive in such an environment...

Thank you in advance for your assistance and this wonderful service...


Answer: A shady garden can be a delight, especially when planted with a variety of plants. Some shrubs to consider:
Indiancurrant coralberry (Symphoricarpos), compact cranberry viburnum (Viburnum opulus 'Compactum'), diervilla, Hydrangea macrophylla, boxwood, Euonymus fortunei (wintercreeper), Abelia, aronia, fothergilla and bayberry.

Don't forget groundcovers such as creeping myrtle, pachysandra and the various forms of English ivy.

Since this sounds like a large project, you might enjoy one of the classic books on
shade gardening, "The Complete Shade Gardener" by
George Schenk ISBN 0-395-36564-3 as well as a basic
book on gardening such as "Gardening for Dummies" by
Michael MacCaskey ISBN 1-56884-644-4.

There is a new catalog available devoted entirely to shade plants -- Shady Oaks Nursery,
PO Box 708, Waseca, MN, 56093-0708, ph#
800/504-8006 (catalog -- $4). Their photos will give you a
good idea of how to design your plantings. Enjoy!

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