An oak tree creates considerable shade in a yard.

Large Shady Yard Ideas

by Amie Taylor

A large shady yard can be a lovely place of respite for you and your kids on a hot summer day and a cozy gathering place for family and friends in the evening. However, a shady yard can also present problems when it comes to landscaping and lawn maintenance. Grass can be hard to grow in yards with too much shade, and many plants require lots of sunlight to thrive. Still, shady yards provide ample opportunity for beauty and convenience in your landscape.

1. Ground Covers

Since even shade-tolerant turf grass can be difficult to grow in shady areas, many people opt to plant ground covers to fill in bare patches in dimly lit yards. Ground covers typically spread quickly, allowing them to cover even large areas. Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia), U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 9, grows well in full to partial shade and blooms with pink or white flowers in May. Baby tears (Soleirolia soleirolii), USDA zones 9 to 11, cover the ground in small, rounded leaves that grow no taller than 6 inches high and flourish in shaded areas. Always check the potential for ground cover plants to become invasive in your area before planting.

2. Outdoor Seating

Large, shady yards provide plenty of room to create decks, verandas and patios without having to install an awning to block the sun. Since the shade trees do the work of an awning, installing wood decks or cement or stone patios and verandas suddenly becomes simpler. Decks, verandas and patios provide ample seating space for entertaining friends and family and are perfect areas for storing grills, displaying fire pits and installing fountains. Place a wrought-iron bench under a mature oak, or hang a hammock between two sturdy trees where you can rest in the shade. Install a path made of stepping stones that winds through outlying foliage for a pleasant, peaceful place to stroll.

3. Perennials

While it may be difficult to grow some types of annual plants and flowers in shaded areas, numerous perennials will spring to life year after year in a shady area. Hostas (Hosta spp.) such as Hosta "Undulata Variegata" and Hosta "Patriot" are both suited for USDA zones 3 to 8 and thrive in partial to full sun. Camellias (Camellia spp.) such as Camellia japonica and Camellia rosiflora, both hardy in USDA zones 7 to 9, produce showy flowers and prefer to exist in shady areas. Ensure that you include a suitable number of plants to keep them from fading into the background in a large yard.

4. Trimming Trees

Instead of working with the shade in your large yard, you may want to increase the sunlight that the trees allow in. The best way to do this is to trim the branches of existing trees. While it is possible to trim small, young trees yourself by cutting some of the smallest branches off at the trunk, it's always best to hire a professional to trim older, established trees. Dead, damaged branches and weakened limbs make trimming large trees dangerous for the inexperienced. When you're fortunate enough to have a large yard, you can trim trees to create sunny areas without losing the benefit of shaded spots as well.

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