Shrubs and trees in dry and shady spot

This is a classic location in gardens: a corner where the sun never gets to and that neighbouring trees protect from rain. There are plenty of solutions to this problem

Shrubs and trees in dry and shady spot

From the easiest to the more difficult
Garnish the base of a Horse Chestnut tree or a plane tree can be done several ways as the base of these trees is bare. You can create a raised flowering bed (15cm), filled with compost or earth and plant directly the right varieties. But for more difficult shady areas, like for conifers' bases or against a house, where the ground is drier, it is the right choice of plants which is essential. The lack of water is more annoying than the lack of light: if you have the possibility of installing an automatic watering system, start with this option. If not explore the range of suitable plants!

The most resistant
Amongst the most drought-resistant plants, try the Euphorbia Amygdaloides, especially the Purpurea variety), the Helleborus, Euonymus, Loropetalum, Daphneas, the polypodium vulgare (one of the rarest Fern which withstand drought), Mahonias or the Kerria Japonica… The particularity of dry shade-loving plants is that many exhale a sweet fragrance to make themselves noticed by nectar-gathering insects and for our nose's pleasure. Osmanthus, Lily of the Valley, Fragrant Honeysuckle (winter honeysuckle) to name but a few are well suited to the lack of light and water.

Shrubs and trees in dry and shady spot
The Loropetalum Chinense Rubrum, ideal for a dry shade area.
Shrubs and trees in dry and shady spot
The winter honeysuckle's fragrance is similar to the Lily of the valley's fragrance.
Shrubs and trees in dry and shady spot
Le Polypodium vulgare slowly forms a carpet. It is a reliable plant.

And what about Roses?
Generally Roses do not like prolonged shade and drought even if when well-established, Roses do withstand drought. A few varieties react better than others such as English Roses, in particular 'Lichfield Angel' or 'Wisley'. It is always the low growing Roses (non-climbers) and lightly coloured varieties. Think about installing a watering system to encourage a Rose which grows in a dry, shady spot, to establish itself and blossom. But in a totally shaded area (which never gets any sun) you won't get a lot of flowers. Try a Potentilla (Shrubby Cinquefoil) which has small yellow flowers reminiscent of eglantine's flowers.

Shrubs and trees in dry and shady spot
Dig a rather deep hole to encourage the roots to go deeper into coolness.

The right technic
Planting must be well prepared to succeed. Turn the soil over on 30cm if you can reach this depth. Wet the soil the day before to be able to work it more easily. Make sure you do not damage the big roots of the surrounding trees. The smallest are not sensitive. Enrich the bottom of the hole with potting compost. As for quantities, it's good to know that the plants will not develop as much as in optimal conditions but they will require a lot more space so as not to suffer from the light's competition from neighbouring plants. Therefore do not plant too densely.

Shrubs and trees in dry and shady spot
Some compost or some mulch to nourish and keep clean, that's all!

The upkeep, arms crossed or nearly
In dry shade, gardening tasks are really reduced. Remove the weeds, after a good thunderstorm when is soil is looser. Above all, add compost or a layer of potting compost on the surface in winter. Mulch the soil with a layer of matter which helps retaining moisture while not preventing it to get to the roots. In that type of location it is better to use pine bark rather than a lawn's green waste. In dry weather, green waste forms a kind of carapace which prevents rainwater from going through it. A good, regular hoeing on the soil's surface, in between the plants is just as good as mulch!

M. Jean-Michel GROULT
Pépinières PLANFOR
1950 Route de Cère
Tel : (020).7660.0178
Fax : 0033 558 064 854