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Creating a Shade Garden Environment
Creating a shade garden environment seems like a pretty simple task. All you need is a partial or fully shaded area, right!? Well, yes, ...and no. Yes... your wooded back yard has the first requirement... shade or filtered light. No.... your backyard may not have all of the environmental characteristics that shade loving plants need to thrive and grow to their fullest.
Lets' explore what you need to create the ideal conditions for your plants........
Lighting: There are varying degrees of shade. There's heavy shade, partial shade, medium shade, and everything in between. Most homeowners will select plants that fit the lighting conditions of their yard. Some of us, however, will work it the other way. For example, if you really want to grow a plant that needs partial shade, and your yard is heavily shaded, you may have to do a little thinning of the woods. Light can be added by cutting branches or trees, or by removing or thinning a tree or shrub. Conversely, you can add shade by planting a tree or tall shrub. It usually takes time to add shade. Unless you want (and are able) to change the lighting conditions, select plants for the lighting conditions of your yard.
Soil condition: In general, shade loving plants prefer a more alkaline soil than sun loving plants. Soil preferences are rich, humus type soil, high in organic matter. Often, the soil around your home has little organic matter. Or, it may consist primarily of sand, clay or even sub-soil. Add plenty of organic matter.
Moisture: Many shade plants come from an environment that provides moist soil all, or most, of the time. Drainage conditions vary. Many plants in this environment will be quite tolerant of plant mildews and fungus diseases. Others will be very susceptible to these plant diseases. Moisture on the leaves can promote molds and fungus disease. We recommend watering at ground level, or use a soaker hoses.
Air Circulation: In wooded areas, air circulation is often low or absent. This promotes plant disease. Conversely, high winds can cause damage to delicate woodlands plants. Depending upon the plants you have selected, a wind break may be needed.
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