Carol P
Carol P
  • Hometalker
  • Fort Scott, KS
Asked on Jul 18, 2013

I have an east garden spot that is very dry and mostly shade.

Carol PGretchenApril E
+27

Answered

I am about ready to let it just go and let the vinca take over. Everything I plant dies. Jonquils do well in the early spring and that is about it. Wild garlic likes it and I let it go to form those curly tops. Any ideas? It is a rectangle shape about 20 x6ft. This picture was taken in the late spring and the violets are dead and so is the new gardenia bush.
i have an east garden spot that is very dry and mostly shade, gardening
30 answers
  • Kathleen Brady
    on Jul 18, 2013

    I would pant lots of ferns and Hasta then a bird bath or a fountain . plant the hasta around the boarder then ferns threw out the center . Water will not be to hot for birds in the shade. Once it fills in nice Put a Bird feeder Near by if you have problem with deer eating hasta then look at my post on home made deer repellent . You can transplant Gardenia to another place maybe by the doors to your home so everyone can smell them as they enter.

  • Carol P
    on Jul 18, 2013

    That sounds very pretty. I have had a hosta on the far left corner and it died. I guess I just have to keep it watered all the time. This is in Kansas. I didn't know you could plant ferns outside. I like the idea of the bird bath. Probably a soaker hose would work best for keeping the cracks away and my time used wisely. Thanks for your suggestion. Yes, deer are a big problem. This property is in the country and surrounded by open fields and some wooded areas.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jul 19, 2013

    Dry shade is about the most challenging combination a gardener encounters, Carol. Epimedium is one plant that does well in those conditions, and is pretty deer resistant. Deer also usually avoid ferns, but you'll need to find one that doesn't mind it dry. Try the evergreen Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides. As long as it's light shade, or you get some sun, you might also try fragrant sumac, Rhus aromatica 'Gro-Low'.

  • Sandra A
    on Jul 19, 2013

    I live in CT. I very seldom ever water. My tiger lilies do well anywhere I put them. Daisies also do very well and come up every year. Hosta's are great but need some water. Try some catus type plants

  • John J
    on Jul 20, 2013

    How about adding a terracotta pot and pebbles to go along with the Hostas, Ferns and even small grasses or bamboo tolerant of Full shade. Then You could fill in with what is classed as 'Pretties' = Flowers of the season retained in their pots but the pot planted into a gap between the other plants should look wonderful AYR. ;D I agree also that using a soaker piping in/around plants will boost the life of the plants, but cover it bark covering to aid the water retention in the border - trees are very thirsty too. Hope this helps.

  • John J
    on Jul 20, 2013

    Oh you have Deer problems too get plants that the Deers don't like e.g. Foxgloves pretty and shade tolerant too! :D

  • Patty S
    on Jul 20, 2013

    There are 100's of Japanese maples that you could plant that are shade lovers. Some grow low to the ground almost as a ground cover. Some are mound types such as the Crimson Queen and it is a beautiful shade of dark red and is a lace leaf. Some are variegated and some are bright green and some yellow. Create a beautiful array of texture and color. Japanese maples do not like wet feet, and some are only shade loving. Check them out on the web. I am what you might call a "maple maniac" but once you purchase and plant one, then you'll want two, then the passion begins. :)

  • Wilma Fendrick
    on Jul 20, 2013

    I would add to the above suggestions to mulch. This will help keep the soil cool and conserve what water you add and what you get during rains. It will also keep weeds down. I add mulch at a depth of 4 to 6 inches. As the mulch depletes it will improve the quality of your soil making your plants healthy an happy. I usually mulch every 2 years. If you add some type of edging around the bed that would help keep the grass from creeping into your bed. Hope this helps. Happy gardening!

  • Luella Eirsdottir
    on Jul 20, 2013

    I planted under a tree this year...my landlords do all the mowing and the limbs, windchimes, bird feeders, etc are always in their way. I weeded a big circle around the tree and cultivated the soil as deeply as possible. It was really dry, but lots of plants do well without a lot of water, especially after they get established. I love woodland violets (yes, I know it's an invasive weed) and Bishop's Weed, so I planted them and added a fern and a daylily. I plan to mulch all my beds with woodchips...my landlords have a firewood business and the local nursery has been taking lots of their woodchips, so I asked for some. I have had to do some watering, but the plants are now taking off, so I only water on hot days. The picture is from just after I planted.

    , This is a Styrax and has just dropped lots of it s flowers I planted woodland violets and bishop s weed around it
  • Carole curtis
    on Jul 20, 2013

    one of th reasons everything is dying is because of the trees. They are taking all the moisture for themselves. I suggest expanding the area by 1-2 feet out and digging in some really good soil additives and mulch to improve the soil and then planting some hosts (there are abundant colors and patterns in Hostas) and perhaps some ferns. You might try watering the area a bit more also. I also had some wooly thyme planted under my Japenese maples that did very well and iris also does well, but is seasonal.

  • Glenna Kennedy
    on Jul 20, 2013

    I agree big time with Carole. My first impression is the trees are killing the plants (what kind are they btw?) Also I am in total agreement about additives...I would dig this up maybe even put a border of some kind around it an fill it with all new soil, some cow manure for a fertilizer, some compost and after I was done planting, lots of mulch on top to hold the moisture. Hostas are lovely, I grow astilbe and they love the shade, coral bells only need a bit of sun and they come in beautiful purple colored leaves as well as green. The birdbath idea is great Im a big fan of huge rocks spaced here and there through out a garden, and there are even some grasses that love the shade. of course extra watering is needed but there are wonderful soaker hoses out now that dont spray water all over, just in the garden itself. If the garden is close to a structure then perhaps a rain barrel with a soaker hose attached so it will basically water itself.

  • Carol P
    on Jul 20, 2013

    I moved the gardenia plant that is all but dead to another spot. It probably won't make it, but there was still some green on it and thought I had nothing to lose. I don't want to make the garden any bigger as I have several other areas that are landscaped and need attention. I like the idea of a ground cover and a bird bath and be done with it. Will no doubt have to wait till next spring to find available Epimedium. I have some vinca in there and it seems to be the only thing that thrives.

  • Kathy Roach
    on Jul 20, 2013

    try some different kinds of sedum they like dry areas and they don't mind the shade. should be able to find them at greenhouses and online.

  • Carol P
    on Jul 20, 2013

    I did plant a sprout of a sedium that seems to be staying alive. It is a yellow green color. I think it is too late in the season to start any new plants. The Christmas fern might be interesting along with some epimedium. One of the trees is a Walnut and there is another large walnut tree to the north of this area. That could be my problem.

  • Patti Biggar
    on Jul 21, 2013

    I have dry shade too in areas. What really helps is having wood chips around your plants to help keep the moisture in. There are so many varieties of hostas, with different colored foliage, that I think that is still a good choice. I also use Ajuga (Carpet Bugle) as a ground cover which also helps keep moisture in and weeds out. They have a beautiful blue flower in the spring, and will grow in some shade. It looks like you get some sun there, so they will flower well. I am in MN so cannot enjoy some of the varieties of plants you have down there. So I am not familiar enough with other choices you would have. But again, I stress the wood chips or some sort of mulch. Good luck!

  • April E
    on Jul 21, 2013

    I have a few questions before I can answer yours properly 1- how do you water the area?(ie; soaker hose, hand, sprinkler, water can) 2- how often do you water? 3- how long do you water for? these may seem like silly questions but in my over 25 years in the nursery business they are the most valuable for finding out why a person cannot keep plants alive in a area. some secondary questions are do you fertilize if so how and how often? what kind of trees are your shade? and do you use soil amendments if so what kind? if I know the answers to these questions I can help you with good information so you do not continue to spend money "trying" things

  • Gretchen
    on Jul 21, 2013

    Deer love hosta and day lillies - so I would steer clear. After you amend the soil with lots of compost and manure and figure out a watering system for the days/weeks you don't have rain, then use 3 " of mulch (as someone else suggested). The trees will suck a lot of moisture but it is possible to plant around them. Don't let the mulch build up around the trunks of the trees though. How about some nice flowering shrubs? Azalea (possible deer issue but I use bird netting to cover mine in the winter), kerria, pieris, hypericum calycinum are some deer resistant possibilities! You could plant fern if you can water the area and the same goes for astilbe (likes it moist) and heuchera - they are worth the effort!

  • Carol P
    on Jul 21, 2013

    i AM WATERING WITH MILK JUGS AT THIS TIME. i DO HAVE A SOAKER HOSE (oops) that I could use. I think I need to just start over and get the ground mixed with good nutrients. When dry it is hard as a rock and large cracks. I think I mentioned two walnut trees and another tree I am not sure what it is. One of the walnut trees is large and not in the picture. It is just behind me when taking the picture. I have never fertilized. It seems the deer don't bother my hosta. I have LED yard lights and seems those keep them at bay.

  • Gretchen
    on Jul 22, 2013

    I didn't realize you had walnut trees, sorry. Take a look at this link. Walnut trees are a special circumstance. Have you considered using pots and containers in this area? http://grovelandscaping.com/archive/what-will-grow-under-my-walnut-tree-2/

  • Carol P
    on Jul 22, 2013

    Well Gretchen now I know why my gardenia bush crooked so fast. My jonquils do fine. Thanks for the link. I didn't know that. Container planting might be the answer along with the vinca that does well. We have lived here over 45 years and I have spent a bunch trying different plants. Now maybe I can figure this out. Thanks.

  • Glenna Kennedy
    on Jul 22, 2013

    Yes as soon as you said walnut trees I went uh oh...they are a problem. So according to that link a built up garden lined with plastic may be your answer. That way the roots wont come in contact with the toxic stuff from the trees. This might sound really off the wall for you and I don't know how much you like eccentric things in your gardens but Ive seen pictures on hometalk of various sizes of old tires painted in beautiful colors, with plants growing in them. One even had been made into a water feature. you could line the inside of the tires with any type of plastic, paint them colors that you like and plant anything that likes shade. The tires add a new feature.

  • Carol P
    on Jul 22, 2013

    I have seen that too Glenna and maybe a little too whimsical for the east side of the front of my house. I do have an old tin shed though, that I store the mower in and I painted a white picket fence across the side that faces the road and a green door and a window that was there and I put a flower box under it with fake flowers. The tire idea would look cute in that area. No walnut trees there though...ha ha. Distant pic of the shed attached...in the forefront that pot now has sweet potato vine in it and is on top of that stump. This is another dry shallow dirt area with rock issues. I might make the rock border another layer higher. The green plants I put in there are from one large plant. Starts with an L and has purple stalk like flowers soon. They do well around my walnut trees.

  • Glenna Kennedy
    on Jul 23, 2013

    Love the shed! I too like some whimsical ideas but don't like to go overboard. Those look like Iris planted in that garden, which are wonderful spring flowers but dont leave you any color after they have bloomed. I'm still leaning towards building up that other garden after laying down some plastic. Might be your only hope at growing plants. Good Luck!

  • Glenna Kennedy
    on Jul 23, 2013

    oops starts with an 'l' would it be Liatris?

  • Carol P
    on Jul 23, 2013

    @Glenna Kennedy it is Liriope or Monkey Grass. I have the dark green in this area and then in another spot the lighter yellow and green mixed with the dark green. It has purple stalks of flowers coming up now in the more mature plants. Yes those are gorgeous huge purple and white iris that have spread like crazy. Again the shallow dirt helps them alot.

  • April E
    on Jul 23, 2013

    @ Carol P here is a link for plant that are tolerant of the juglone that walnuts produce and since you have tried some of those there and still are having issues I do not believe it is a trre issue but a watering issue if you are watering that area with jugs there is no way (unless you spend hours) you can get the area properly watered pull out your soaker hose and turn it on for about 2 hours 2 times a week unless you get a good inch or more of rain I have seen this issue hundreds of times in the course of my career where it is hard to get something to grow in a area and if the way of watering is changes and add in a little fertilization occasionally after watering the "bad" area becomes beautiful and it is also the thing that usually cost the least amount of money. the issue most people have is 1- way to many old wives tails on how to water are floating around and 2 its hard to belive such a small change can make such a big difference good luck and I hope your garden grows beautifully

  • Carol P
    on Jul 24, 2013

    @April E thanks for the link. Good info for Walnut trees. I think I will find someone to till this up in the fall and add some manure and maybe some gypsen .

  • Gretchen
    on Jul 24, 2013

    Where I live now (have lived all over the country but never seen this before), people make a garden shape under trees and cover it deeply with mulch. I guess they figure not much can compete with the trees anyway. It looks interesting - I call them "mulch gardens." (However, I tilled mine when I moved in and made a real gareden with no problems). You could try that and maybe make some hypertufa pots and plant beautiful containers to go on top of the mulch.

  • Carol P
    on Aug 18, 2013

    Due to the Walnut tree close by, the gardenia bush about crocked within a month...I dug it up and moved it. Now I have new green leaves forming on it. Got rid of all the dead and I think it might make it. I about threw it away. I did have landscape timbers around the sides and back,but took them out for less trimming. There is a brick border to the front or right side as you look at the picture.

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