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Small Shade Garden Plans

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Put a small corner spot to work as a stage for shade-loving plants. Colorful foliage plants are the stars in this garden bed, with shade-loving flowers playing a supporting role. The perennials return year after year, but you can create a fresh look by switching out the impatiens and coleus annually.

Small corner shade garden by front entryway.
Small shade garden with shade plants shown just after initial planting.

See the Progression

This small-space shade garden, above, was planted in an afternoon, instantly adding eye appeal to a front entryway. Here, right, the garden is shown when first planted, just 6 weeks earlier.

Plants for shade include cannas, coleus, coralbells, New Guinea impatiens and creeping Jenny.

Foliage Rules

With a range of brightly variegated foliage plants, this garden sizzles all summer long. Plants include perennials (creeping Jenny and coralbells), shade annuals (coleus and New Guinea impatiens) and tender bulbs (cannas and elephant’s ears).

See another corner shade garden plan.

Tropicanna cannas and elephant’s ears.

Big and Bold

Cannas and elephant’s ears both have large leaves that capture attention even from a distance. The variegated leaves of Tropicanna and Tropicanna Gold canna and the jungle-like elephant’s ears make a dramatic backdrop, adding size and presence to the bed. As a bonus, the cannas will produce flowers later in the summer.

Discover other tender bulbs for your garden.

Flowers that grow in shade: Coralbells, New Guinea impatiens and creeping Jenny.

A Boost From Blooms

Shade-loving impatiens and coralbells pack a one-two punch. The hot-pink New Guinea impatiens capture attention from any distance, but the clusters of tiny white coralbell flowers are best viewed up close. And what better place to do that than in a pocket garden near a doorway?

Learn more about shade gardening and see a different planting plan.

Coleus foliage and coralbells flowers.

Coleus

With a wide range of colors and variegated patterns, it’s hard not to find a coleus you like. While it can be used as an accent, with time this foliage plant will grow large enough to serve as a focal point.

See coleus used in a container garden design.

Caladium foliage.

Caladium

Although its shape echoes that of the elephant’s ears, caladium’s variegated leaves are etched with neon colors that simply can’t be ignored. Rather than having it fight it out in the bed with the coleus, the caladium in this garden has its own stage—in a container by the front step.

Grow caladiums from tubers.

Coralbells foliage.

Coralbells

The more-sedate purple and pewter color of the coralbells foliage balances the highly charged coleus planted nearby. As a perennial, it will return every year as a low-cost anchor plant.

See regional garden plans using coralbells and other shade-loving plants.

Hydrangea flowers.

Hydrangea

Bigleaf hydrangea has big color, too. It does best with morning sun, afternoon shade and ample moisture. A higher pH results in pink blooms (shown), while acidic soil brings about blue flowers. Even after they fade in late summer, flowers remain attractive.

See a planting plan for a shady nook featuring hydrangea.

verhead view of small shade garden by front entryway.

Shade Garden Planting Plan

  1. Elephant’s ears (Calocasia esculenta), Zones 8–11 or annual*
  2. Cannas (Tropicanna and Tropicanna Gold), Zones 8–11 or annual*
  3. Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides), annual
  4. Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), Zones 5–9
  5. Burgundy coralbells (Heuchera micrantha), Zones 3–8
  6. Chartreuse coralbells (Heuchera micrantha), Zones 3–8
  7. New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri), annual
  8. Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’), Zones 4–8

 

* Where winters are cold, these tender bulbs can be overwintered in sawdust or peat moss in a cool, dry basement and replanted in spring.

 

Plant a pocket-size garden in an afternoon, enjoy it all summer long. --Lowe’s Creative Ideas

Plant a small corner garden where you can see and enjoy it every day.

 

See more ideas for front yard gardens:

Plant a Front Flower Bed

Plant a Front Flower Border

Front-yard Landscape 4 Ways