How to Transform a Small Garden Area

4 Materials
1 Day

I've done lots of garden makeovers at our fixer upper home and this is one of my favorites. It's a little shade area that's right off of our patio. It gets hardly any sun, so I had to go with shade plants. Perhaps you have a little area in your yard that could use some makeover help. I hope this inspires you to get it done.

This is what I started with. It wasn't completely hideous like some of my other makeovers, but it had no personality and I knew I could make it better.

I like to start with a clean slate, so the first thing I did was dig all of the plants out. There's a peony that had buds on it, so I decided to leave it for now and relocate it in the fall.

I tossed the weeds and undesirable plants like ostrich fern and relocated some plants to other gardens.

Next, I position the plants where I want them and step back to take a look. Then I rearrange and repeat the process until I have everything just how I want it.

Next comes the digging and planting. I basically dig a hole about twice the size of the root ball on the plant. Add a little Osmocote in the bottom of the hole and mix it it.

Then I simply plant each plant and back fill with soil around the roots, gently tamping the soil down. Easy peasy!

When I have all the plants planted, I add a good layer of shredded wood mulch. Don't skip this step! Mulch helps to keep the weeds down and moisture in the soil, so this will be a low-maintenance garden.

After adding a few touches to give this little shade garden some character, here is the after. I love the way it turned out! If you'd like to see more of this makeover and other garden makeovers, stop by Gingham Gardens and check it out: Small Shade Garden Transformation.

Do you have a little area that could use a makeover? I encourage you to tackle it and make a garden you'll be proud of.

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Joanna - Gingham Gardens

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
  • Arleen
    on Aug 30, 2019

    Yes I want to know how solarlights work in a shade garden. The picture of the lights must just be for effect.

    • Joanna - Gingham Gardens
      on Aug 30, 2019

      Hi Arleen - Apparently, this little garden gets just enough dappled sun for the lights to work. Some last longer than others and honestly I think they help to add some character to the garden during the day too.

  • Joanie
    on Sep 4, 2019

    Kindred spirits may be the answer, the Names may be? Joanna, Joanie and I believe there is a Joan on this site too. Maybe does have something to do with the name. Joanna Gaines is the Queen of decorating? lol. What does your name mean?

  • Nora
    on Aug 31, 2020

    Cute garden redo. Just wondering why you consider ostrich fern undesirable? (They were tossed out with the weeds). Are they invasive in your area?

    • Joanna - Gingham Gardens
      on Sep 1, 2020

      Although lovely, ostrich ferns are very aggressive and not recommended for a small residential garden. If you have a large wooded area, they would be fine there. There are lots of other fern varieties that aren’t aggressive.

Join the conversation

3 of 11 comments
  • Joanna - Gingham Gardens
    on Sep 16, 2019

    Hi A.J. - I don’t have that problem, but there are lots of plant stands that would raise your plants up off the floor. I even saw on on Hometalk a few weeks ago. Do a search for diy plant stands and I bet that will get your creative juices going. Good luck!

  • Dl.5660408
    on Aug 31, 2020

    Love your project. A good portion of both my front and backyards have large shady spaces where nothing seems to grow well except noxious weeds. Your spot looks lovely, especially with your added whimsical little accents. Wish I could grow hosta in my 9b zone

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