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Shade Garden Plans by Region

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Don’t let a little shade stop you from planting a handsome landscape. Here are five regional plans for Pacific, South, North, Mountain and Desert landscapes. Each garden plan is small enough to plant in a day. Remember that these shade plants will have more colorful foliage and more numerous flowers with a few hours of sunlight, preferably in the morning when the light is less intense.

North, South, Mountain, Desert and Pacific Coast regional garden plans for a shade garden near a house
Shade plants for pacific coast region including Japanese maple, creeping Jenny, Japanese laurel, wintercreeper, sweet flag, coralbells, Lenten rose, lady fern


This is a garden of contrasts, made up almost entirely of foliage plants. The maroon Japanese maple and burgundy coralbells contrast effectively against other plants. Even the greens have differences, ranging from chartreuse creeping Jenny to variegated sweet flag.

Plant list:

  1. Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), Zones 5–8
  2. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia), Zones 4–8
  3. Japanese laurel (Aucuba japonica), Zones 6–10
  4. Wintercreeper (Euonymous fortunei), Zones 5–9
  5. Sweet flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’), Zones 5–11
  6. Coralbells (Heuchera spp.), Zones 4–8
  7. Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis), Zones 4–8
  8. Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Zones 4–9
shade garden plan for north region featuring Japanese maple, male fern, pachysandra, hosta, New Guinea impatiens, Virginia sweetspire


Japanese maple is a focal point in this garden, joined by traditional shade companions such as hostas, pachysandra and impatiens. Vibrant orange New Guinea impatiens look all the more splendid against the blue hostas. Virginia sweetspire boasts white flower panicles in early summer followed by burgundy foliage in fall.

Plant list:

  1. Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) Zones 5–8
  2. Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas), Zones 4–8
  3. Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis), Zones 4–8
  4. Hosta (Hosta spp.), Zones 3–9
  5. New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri), annual
  6. Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica), Zones 5–9
shade garden plan for south region featuring Japanese maple, mahonia, hosta, New Guinea impatiens, coleus, oakleaf hydrangea, boxwood


A palette of green and white ensures a clean, crisp garden design that will keep its classic good looks all season long. Rounded shapes predominate, but there’s enough variation in color and texture to create a pleasing mosaic. The maple and hydrangea will add further contrast in fall when they turn color.

Plant list:

  1. Japanese maple (Acer palmatum), Zones 5–8
  2. Creeping mahonia (Mahonia repens), Zones 5–8
  3. Hosta (Hosta spp.), Zones 3–9
  4. New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri), annual
  5. Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), annual
  6. Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), Zones 5–9
  7. Boxwood (Buxus microphylla), Zones 6–9
shade garden plan for southwest desert region featuring Texas mountain laurel, foxtail fern, whirling butterflies, twin-flowered agave, hearts and flowers, Mexican honeysuckle


The plants in this plan provide a variety of shapes, textures and colors—particularly pink and orange. Although they’ll thrive on the north side of a home in the low desert areas of the Southwest, they can also take some direct sunlight as shadow patterns change throughout the season.

Plant list:

  1. Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora), Zones 7–11
  2. Foxtail fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myers’), annual
  3. Whirling butterflies (Gaura lindheimeri), Zones 6–9
  4. Twin-flowered agave (Agave geminiflora), Zones 9–11
  5. Hearts and flowers (Aptenia cordifolia), Zones 8–10
  6. Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera), annual
shade garden plan for mountain region featuring Oregon grapeholly, Japanese holly, alpine columbine, astilbe, hosta, coralbells, Siberian bugloss


Astilbes and Siberian bugloss are floral favorites, providing a burst of color in late spring. Variegated hostas and burgundy coralbells ensure season-long interest with their foliage. Oregon grapeholly has yellow flowers in early spring followed by ornamental blue-black fruit in late summer.

Plant list:

  1. Oregon grapeholly (Mahonia aquifolium), Zones 6–9
  2. Japanese holly (Ilex crenata ‘Compacta’), Zones 5–7
  3. Alpine columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Zones 3–8
  4. Astilbe (Astilbe x arendsii), Zones 3–8
  5. Hosta (Hosta spp.), Zones 3–8
  6. Coralbells (Heuchera micrantha), Zones 3–8
  7. Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla), Zones 3–7
Embrace low-light conditions and plant a beautiful garden you can enjoy all season. --Lowe’s Creative Ideas

These regional garden plans for shady conditions are well suited to a front entryway as shown, but they can also work in the backyard or by a garage door.

Explore more ideas for gardening in the shade: