I have a large number of oak trees on the one side of our house where the grass won't grow because the trees suck up all the water. We live on a corner and this faces one of the roads and of course looks terrible. The previous owner told us he tried planting grass multiple times and it constantly died. We just moved here in Oct and I really don't want to go thru planting over and over again just to watch things die. We have 10 acres and plenty of grass so I don't really need grass here, just something that will grow but not take over too much and spread into the areas that are grass. I'm in SC with red clay. Any suggestions?
Wow another SCarolinian. The are lots of shady ground covers you can use. Also you could use ivy but you have to watch it that it doesn't get away. I am a gardner so I see a beutiful shade garden, but thats just me. Talk to someone at a local nursery. Take this picture with you. Most are very helpful. Good luck.
Hi - My favorite choice by far - hosta - the first pic is under a large pine, and the second under a linden - hundreds of varieties, and low maintenance. Check out the Hosta thread for lots of ideas. - Dax
Hi Aiken, I would love to do a shade garden here...but the oaks take all the water so would need stuff that basically wouldn't care about being ignored water wise. Dax, those pictures are gorgeous! I had a huge hosta come up unexpectedly in my dog yard this spring and am very pleasantly surprised that my little boys lifting their legs all over it hasn't killed it. No clue what kind it is, but it's nice looking. I'm not familiar with caladium at all and would have to look it up. Your bed looks very managable but that's just planted, right? Those will get as huge as my dog yard hosta, right? (ignore the rest of the picture...it's the dog yard and a mass of weeds and a project for another year...I'm only taking on what I can manage this year and planning what I can tackle in the next 12 to 18 months for now). When they are full grown, do they completely cover everything or do you still see spacing between them? My only hesitation on them is with the amount of critters around here, I rather not give them some place to hide that close to the house/garage. It's also a very weird area in that I have grass growing perfectly right outside the trees, just not within the circle of the trees...which of course isn't a circle to be exact. I'll see if I can get another shot to describe what I'm babbling about. We talked about putting an arbor or birdbath or garden seat with plants around it in this area...but again, I'm back to the oaks hogging the water.
I gotta feed the horses...will be back later and really appreciating this...this is exactly what I need!
Hi - I'm back - to answer some of your questions - the bed you are seeing has many different sized hosta in it. There are gigantic, very large, large ----- down to mini, so you can get what you want and still manage the growth with little hassle. Here's another pic from this year - as you can see, the back completely overlap, while the small front ones are still individally distinguishable. - I do transplant and change them around, but that's just what I like to do.
I've sent another pic of caladium too. They are annual here, but you can dig them up and over winter them (I'm too lazy for that). They are planted when the temp of the ground is 60 - 65 degrees. They do like moisture to grow as large as possible, so you would probably need to water.
Yes, hosta do provide a place to hide for small critters. I have a dog and he loves to forage through them (he's short and can go under many of them) and he keeps the animals at a healthy distance from the house. So I can't help you there.
Another companion to hosta are various types of deadnettles. They come in all variations of colors in greens through whites, and can live with almost no water at all and look great!
And finally, I've sent a pic of a sculpture and vase of violas in the hosta bed under the linden.
A few raised beds could broaden your choices for shade plants. I agree with Jaws, I like the vinca minor suggestion. I have some in my shade garden growing under my azaleas and it's real pretty. And as Jaws said, it's evergreen and looks good all year. It's easy to keep it from escaping simply by keeping it mowed.
I'm liking the idea of a few beds and really like how your paths look Becki. I'm going to show these pictures to my DH and walk off the area to get a feel for exactly how large the ugly part is that we need to do something with and see if I can visualize some paths too...
besides, if we put in a few raised beds this summer, I have a place I can dump manure/bedding/leaves this fall/winter (we have horses) then plant come next spring! That may just be the thing to convince DH :-)
btw, I LOVE those dead nettles! I have to look into those! The caladium does nothing for me and hostas I can pretty much take or leave but I don't think I've looked at them enough. I'm sure there is such a huge variety that I haven't ever seen that I would like. They would really need to be the small variety tho as this area is right outside our dog yard and carport and I really don't want critters any more than we have already.
NatureLover...you have azaleas in your shade garden? Why did I think they need sun?
Oh, another possible issue I just thought of besides the shade and no water...in the fall, we get about 3 feet deep pile of leaves in this area from all the trees so DH needs to be able to go thru with his cyclone rake (imagine big vacuum cleaner attached to tractor that mulches). He's kind of neurotic about leaves on the ground. Also, you can't really tell from the pictures, but the ground is completely covered with acorns which I guess can be toxic to some plants?
If you want azaleas and you put them in raised beds the oak leaves etc. will not bother them. Oak leaves are acidy when they break down (obviosly it will also be acidy under the oak trees) and azaleas like acid soil. Most azaleas prefer no more than morning sun--too much sun will burn them. And they are soooo pretty growing under trees. LOL, if hubby's fall leaf cleaning is a problem, look into getting diciduous azaleas so he won't vacuum the leaves off the evergreen variety. With raised beds, you can create some beautiful gardens under those oak trees. There are lots of flowers that prefer shade too so you aren't limited to just foliage plants. And you could do them like I'm doing my butterfly garden--a little at a time as time and money permit. I finally have just enough flowers that I'm attracting several types of butterflies!
Hi, NatureLover - I'm just beginning to attempt to grow azaleas and rhododendrons, and would love to see any pics you may have. I think they are beautiful, but haven't had any experience with them - so all advice is welcome!
And Devildogs, I'm sending along another type of dead nettle for a pic.
And also, another section of paths in the shade -
And finally, are you ever lucky! I have one large oak, and their leaves are the best natural mulch grown. I vacuum and mulch all the leaves and then spread them over all the beds for the winter, after the first freeze. In the spring, when I uncover the beds, my DH vacuums them up, (which further mulches them) and puts them on a compost pile. They become compost very quickly! I know it may sound like alot of work but since your DH is like mine, and must clean them up anyway, you may want to take advantage! I haven't had to add additional organics to my beds for two years now, and the soil is luscious!
First, here's "Chequers." Green and white - taken yesterday.
Photography is one of my hobbies so I have a gazillion pictures in my office. Will have to get time to sort through and see if I can find those azalea pics I took just this last spring when they were in bloom. But azaleas are pretty easy. I mix lots of peat in the planting hole since they love acid soil and then I keep them moderately moist (not too wet). Also, make sure when you plant them that you leave the top part of the root ball an inch or so above the line of your planting hole as they need air for their roots. If you plant to deep, they will likely die. Also, mulch is good but don't put it right up to the stem of the plant and don't pile it on too heavy--just enough to keep the soil moist. Of course, they do like dappled shade or either plant on an eastern exposure so they don't get too much sun. Some folks don't like them because they only bloom for 2 to 3 weeks in the spring but are they ever pretty for that period of time (I think they look good even when they aren't in bloom and most of them are evergreen). I don't prune mine as I like shrubs to have a natural look and most of the varieties they sell now don't get real big. I did have one of the old fashioned ones that gets real big but I planted it a little too far down toward my creek and the deer ate it so bad this last winter that it just couldn't recover. Hope this helps. BTW, your beds are pretty. I also have some walkways in some of my beds--it was such a good way to use up the leftover paver bricks we bought to do our front porch. They are also nice because the dogs will use them instead of walking through my gardens, lol.
Exactly re: the dogs and paths, and people too. It's amazing how they just follow the path, even when there is grass right next to it. And thanks for the azalea tips. I've got some great dappled shade, and will amend the soil with peat and check on their depth and mulch - will send pics when I have any of the overall bed. I like the natural look also, especially in the area I'm planting. - Dax
Here's a picture of my neighbor's azealeas. Two very unusual types, but awesome in the spring. We had a hard freeze here in north Alabama on Easter weekend and the blooming time was cut short, but they are evergreens, so they still look good.