Brightening up shade

Discussion in 'Garden Design and Plant Suggestions' started by Fossil, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. Fossil

    Fossil Active Member 10 Years

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    There is a huge fir tree in the middle of my back yard, and three very large cedar trees in the front, so we get practically no sun at all except on the south side of the house. What can I plant in the shade that will give some colour? I would like suggestions for spring bulbs and also perennials, bearing in mind that most of the planting area is directly under these trees; so it is very dry, covered with needles most of the time, and has a large squirrel population!

    I am also on a pretty tight budget so anything reasonably priced would be appreciated!
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Put down bark mulch, water those areas occasionally during summer and wait to see what comes up on its own. Made into a seed bed like this with moist mulch instead of dry soil numerous bird-sown shrubs in particular are likely to come up - berrying kinds like holly, Oregon grape and cotoneaster. This is much cheaper and easier than trying to purchase and establish potted stock in dry rooty ground beneath conifers. Pull out the ones you don't want and leave the ones you do.
     
  3. Fossil

    Fossil Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks for the reply Ron - much appreciated. But being the dummy that I am, I should have specified plants other than berries, which are the only colour I have at the moment. There are lots of Mountain Ash and Holly and another type of berry I can't identify, but they only begin to colour in August and by winter the birds have eaten most of them. I was sort of hoping there might be some kind of ground cover with flowers or other colour plant for the spring & summer months?
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Tough situation impossible to indicate specific results for without viewing details in person. Even then nobody can guarantee a particular result. Bare areas under low-branching conifers occur because it is so hard for most things to grow there. Limbing them way up - at least 30' - improves conditions for underplanting but may mar appearance of trees so treated if not already old and tall enough that they might have started to grow thin at the bottom on their own. Even then this is primarily a result of shading by adjacent trees under forest conditions, with the same species often retaining branches to the ground indefinitely when isolated and receiving full light.

    Limbed up trees also pelt the ground beneath with water droplets unless there is a layer of smaller trees and shrubs beneath. And to get yours pruned up you would have to undertake the expense and effort involved.

    You could get a feel for what might be possible by walking or driving around your community and looking at what others nearby have done with similar spots.
     

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