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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have one corner of our yard that is just a scraggly mess..
its DEEP shade..
A large oak tree above, and two large Maples just over the fence, all conspire to allow no sunlight to hit the ground all summer.

I would like to convert the corner into a shade garden..

I planted two Oak Leaf Hydrangeas last Spring, that im hoping will grow 6' tall to block out the view of the road,
and now I would like to maybe plant ferns all along the fence line, and fill-in the middle with some kind of groundcover..

Pictures!



that wooden framework is the beginning of my wife's large swingset! I built it last fall..
It might look like grass all through there, but its mostly "Creeping Charlie"..a noxious weed..
grass doesnt grow there..(that big dirt pile will be cleared out this spring)




A slightly different angle, from a few days ago:





the goal is to prettify the corner, and to block the view of the road in the background..(you can see the red car on the road in the background)
Im considering maybe more hydrangeas *behind* the fence (our property line is actually 3-feet beyond the fence) so it is possible to plant
things on the other side of the fence..but I want the ferns and groundcover for "our" side of the fence..

I dont know anything about Ferns..
could anyone recommend any nice bushy, full ferns?
up to 4' tall is fine (and would be good!)
Must like shade though..

For groundcover in front of the ferns, I will probably go with myrtle/periwinkle (Vinca minor)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/512518375/
Anyone have any Fern suggestions?
Zone 6, Western NY.

thanks!
Scot
 

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Scot,
I'm afraid I'm not much help either. Other than knowing my Dad's house in Olean has a huge ferns growing along the north side of the house in between houses. I also know that they would spread slowly each year and we mowed them down in the fall or early spring to take care of the oak and maple leaves that ahd been blown in over the fall and winter. Not sure what type they were but they only grew about waist high. Definetly Shade loving and needed the right moisture content too. The neighbors across the street asked for and I gave them a few plants that didn't do very well were they choose to plant them. Still on teh north side of teh house but out front where they recieved more sun and mroe weather. They were pretty protected in between the houses where we had them. If I had a spot for them where I am now I'd go grab a few before my father sells the house.

Chas
 

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Scot

I prefer the ornamental ferns like the oriental varieties but they do not grow as high as the common native ferns. The common ferns and really all ferns produce fronds in spring and as the year goes by they slowly die back ... In fall ferns lose their green very early. Early in fall means to me around or slightly before first frost which where I am is shortly after Labour Day. Spring by comparison comes when the ground thaws, traditionally in mid to late April. Average last frost is May 24.

Before discussing shade ground covers, a comment on watering. Much of my railroad is built in full shade. I established the first gardens in 2006 and two summers (2006 and 2007) taught me that the trees which block the sun also block the rain. If you get a torrential downpour then of course everything is soaked but the regular frequent lighter rains give nothing. I finally built a sprinkler system in spring 2008 pumping water from the river on my property.

Groundcovers for cool shady areas are a problem ... there are not many. I am in the bottom of USDA zone 4 (and we get lots of winters that give some zone 3 cold temps. I have found the following to be useful in full shade:

1) lamium ... a family of groundcovers most of which do well in cool climates ... a number of varieties are small leaved and very well behaved ... they spread at a modest rate and are quite robust ... they will not keep grasses in check if you have any but very few grasses will grow in shade

2) vinca (periwinkle) ... a fine leaved very low slow spreading vine like plant that also behaves well ... it definitely needs moisture or its rate of growth will be glacial

3) euphorbia marginata (snow on the mountain) .. a variegated leaved plant that has average sized leaves and grows to a height of about 12 -15 inches ... it is incredibly invasive in dappled shade but less so in full shade ... it also tends like the ferns, to brown early in the fall and die back

4) ajuga reptans (bugleweed) ... a hated and invasive plant pests in warmer climates, it is reasonably well behaved in the short cool growing season of zone 4A ... keep it in full shade and you will not have any problems ... it is a low growing but average leaf sized plant with interesting colour varieties

5) convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) ... an invasive and very difficult to control member of the lily family ... deep shade and drought to wet conditions are not a problem for this tough plant ... it also produces an aromatic scent ... it grows about 18 inches with some rather large leaves ... but it too tends to die back in early fall ... some folks may like it but it is not my favourite

Other than ground covers, in deep shade I really like hostas and astilbes as hardy leafy intersting plants and of course, for annuals, it is hard to beat coleus and begonias to add colours to the green monochromatic shade garden.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Scot, I second what Dougald said about the lack of water beneath trees. Particularly maple trees. I have had success with small-leaved 'houseplant' ivies; birdsfoot and glacier ivies have done well for me, and are not as invasive as their English Ivy parents. Being cultivars of English Ivy (Hedera helix), they are quite hardy here in zone 6. Glacier ivy has green-and-white variegated leaves, so it shows up well in shade. And the stuff is easy to propagate, too; just peg it down at a leaf node and it roots itself!!
SandyR
 

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Scot,

I found that the best ground cover for deep shade is moss. The following photo shows my old layout in Virginia. All the moss is native. I collected it from the surrounding area and placed on my layout. It spreads by itself and only requires a little watering. It can also tolerate a lot of water. I loved it. Too bad my new layout is in full sun.



Doc
 

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May I respectfully suggest the lower branches of your Oak be removed? Preferably anything at or below the height of the swing’s top. Actually, I’d remove anything less than ten feet from the ground. The tree won’t suffer from the loss and your head will appreciate it. This will permit a bit more sun (without allowing TOO[/i] much) and allow a wider range of plants.

You mentioned that three feet past the fence is yours. Why not put up some simple lath screens and plant Clematis? They tolerate shade and will provide the colour of blooms. When the plants are dormant, the screens will still do their job of improving your view and privacy. They even come in low cost, low maintenance, vinyl.
 

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Studeclunker,
I too have thought long and hard on putting up a lattice screen like that but I'm afraid that where I want it I'll need to overbuild which for me is OK but potentially in Scot's situation he may really have to over engineer it and get all sorts of permits to do so. This is Western NY, the land of over regulation. Some of the issue would stem from constant winds that we get thru the winter. I'd be building/planting mine specifically to reduce some of the winds and where I need it see's LOTS of wind. Mine will definetly get built eventually. As for Scot he'll have to decide for himself?

Chas
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Posted By studeclunker on 03/23/2009 11:31 PM
May I respectfully suggest the lower branches of your Oak be removed? Preferably anything at or below the height of the swing’s top. Actually, I’d remove anything less than ten feet from the ground. The tree won’t suffer from the loss and your head will appreciate it. This will permit a bit more sun (without allowing TOO[/i] much) and allow a wider range of plants.





Stude,
good idea..but I really dont think it would make any difference in the amount of light..
I have already removed the lowest branches, that were in the way while walking..now all the branches
are above "head level"...but its a BIG tree..I dont think removing branches up to 10 feet off the ground would make
any difference at all in the amount of light reaching the ground..

I have been reading more about ferns..and they probably wont be ideal for my location afterall..
most ferns prefer "dappled shade"..not "deep shade"..
I could make the soil good for them..but I would probably need to install a soaker hose right under the mulch layer,
otherwise it would be too dry..(I was considering doing that for the hydrangeas anyway, until they get larger and well established)

I will probably still try a few ferns anyway! just to see how they do..if they dont like the area, I will move them somewhere else..
(maybe over in the corner of the future garden railroad! :)

Scot
 
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