Shade Garden Ideas

hostas in shade
hostas in shade

Trial and error are how most gardening experts use their shade garden ideas. There is no exact science to it, but vegetable gardens can grow in shady spots. A rule of thumb exists, though, that determines what vegetable is more effective at growing in said spots. Experts have concluded that a little shade is fine if gardeners grow for the buds, stems, and leaves. On the other hand, plants that are grown for the fruit and root needs full sun.

Gardening in a shady location needs more attention than normal ones. You need to determine the quality of shade, level of the plant’s fertility, temperature, soil type and how much the plants get moisture. All these factors affect the success or failure of your venture.


The sun is a major component for vegetables and plants to bear fruit. No vegetable garden can survive without sunlight. And having limited access to it means limited results. That’s why having shaded gardens can be quite disappointing. You don’t get the most out of your garden. However, it’s not the end of the world. You can still work with what you have by learning what are the different types of shade conducive to vegetable growth.

dappled shade
dappled shade with surrounding bright light
Dappled Shade – these are shadows cast by nearby trees and branches. The garden will have a shadow over it, but the surroundings are still bright. A quick remedy to this is by trimming low-hanging branches to let in more sunlight.


partial shade
partial shade is caused by sun movement
Partial Shade – unlike dappled shade, this shade is cast by buildings, which covers your garden with dark shade for most of the day. It also varies from time to time – one day you’ll have six sunny hours and then equivalent hours of shade the next. The shade also keeps you guessing at times since what it shades varies from season to season.

Growing a garden in these conditions might be discouraging. Yields will not be as high compared to gardens with bright or dappled shade. However, there is still hope. You can plant shade-tolerant vegetables and make the most out of an unfortunate situation.


Some plants can thrive in shady gardens. Quality produce can be harvested even if they only have 3-4 hours of sunlight. Here are some of the best of them.

The following plants only need 3-4 hours of sunlight a day.

1. Culinary herbs

garlic chives
garlic chives is one of many shade tolerant plants
Herbs, such as golden marjoram, lemon balm, mint, parsley, cilantro, garlic chives, and oregano perform well in a shaded garden.

2. Root Vegetables

Radishes survive in partial shade
Potatoes, beets, carrots, and radishes perform decently in partial shade. However, these vegetables’ growth heavily relies on the amount of sunlight. The more light they are exposed to, the quicker you achieve a full crop. Expect that these vegetables will take longer to mature than average vegetables.


3. Mesclun

mesclun is a salad mix
Mesclun is arguably the best crop for shady gardens. This crop handles dappled shade very well and only needs two hours of sun a day to grow. In 4 weeks, you’ll be able to harvest its leaves. You can also get two to three harvests in one plant.

Please watch this 1:14 minute video for 7 excellent tips to shade gardening

Related How To article: How to Choose Vegetables for a Shade Garden

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