Beat the Heat: How to Create Shade Garden in Your Backyard

Beat the Heat: How to Create Shade Garden in Your Backyard

The heat can be stifling in summer months, but there are a few clever ways to create natural shade in your backyard without the need for expensive structures. 

So when Kelowna’s temperature starts to climb, keep cool with these budget-friendly tips for creating a shade garden. 

In this article, you’ll learn:

How To Choose The Right Location For Your Shade Garden

Selecting an optimal location is the foundation of a thriving shade garden. Look for areas with partial sunlight, where dappled rays of light filter through the canopy of surrounding trees. 

While shade-loving plants thrive in these conditions, it’s essential to avoid excessively shady spots that may encourage the growth of mould and mildew. A well-balanced level of sunlight ensures that your plants and garden flourish.

Creating A Natural Shade

When creating a shade garden, utilizing trees as a source of shade is a wise and natural approach. Planting small plants or bushes strategically around the base of mature trees will further enhance your shade garden.

The climate in Kelowna offers a range of possibilities, but it’s essential to choose trees well-suited for your specific garden conditions. Opt for trees that fit well within your garden’s available space, to avoid them becoming too large and shading out other plants as they mature.

If you’re not blessed with a number of large trees, don’t fret—there is still plenty of ways to create natural shade in your backyard. Planting tall shrubs and hedges can help provide shade for other plants or seating areas in the garden. Consider growing larger shrubs such as:

  • Mahonia
  • Boxwood
  • Ligustrum

What Plants Thrive In Shade Gardens?

A section of a shade garden with hostas, ferns and heucheras.

Once you’ve chosen the location for your shade garden, the next important step is selecting the right plants. 

While it’s tempting to include your personal favourites, the key to a successful shade garden is picking plants that thrive in low-light conditions. With Kelowna’s climate, there are some ideal options worth exploring.

1. Hostas and Ferns

For a delightful touch of greenery, hostas and ferns are excellent choices. Their lush foliage creates an enchanting backdrop for your shade garden. 

2. Impatiens and Coleus

To add vibrant colours to the landscape, consider impatiens and coleus, which will introduce striking hues amidst the greenery.

Consider the amount of shade the area receives to ensure that the plant’s light requirements align with the garden’s conditions. Also, take into account the size of the plants and the colour scheme to create a harmonious atmosphere.

How to Prepare the Soil

Prepare a well-nurtured soil with the following to form the backbone of a thriving shade garden. 

1. Compost and Organic Matter

Amend the soil with generous amounts of compost and organic matter to provide your plants with the nutrients they need to flourish. Not only does this fortify the soil structure, but it also enhances water retention. 

2. Sand For Drainage

Additionally, sand can help improve drainage, striking a balance between dampness and dryness in your garden.

TIP: Rocks do not only serve as focal points in your shade garden but they also help retain moisture in the soil.

How to Maintain Your Shade Garden

An area of a shade garden in a lawn with short trees like magnolias and willow.

While shade gardens are generally low-maintenance, there are still essential practices to uphold to keep them flourishing.

1. Watering Schedule

Watering your plants regularly, especially during hot weather, ensures their overall health. Adequate hydration supports their growth and resilience in the shade’s cooler environment.

2. Mulching

Mulching around your plants accomplishes two vital tasks: retaining moisture to sustain your plants and suppressing weeds, which minimizes the need for constant upkeep.

3. Plant Growth Patterns

Though plants in shade gardens may not grow as rapidly as those in full-sun gardens, be mindful that certain shade-loving plants have a propensity to thrive and grow quickly. Staying attentive to their growth patterns will help you maintain a balanced and beautiful shade garden.

TIP: Water features can help to increase the humidity in a shade garden. They also add a visual interest to the garden and naturally reflect light and make the garden more interesting.

The versatility of shade gardens makes them an ideal choice for all climates, including the semi-arid climate of the Okanagan Valley. These green sanctuaries offer a welcome respite during hot and dry summers, providing a cool and soothing escape from the scorching sun.

With thoughtful planning and careful preparation, your shade garden can become a perfect addition to your outdoor space.
If you’re in need of more advice in growing your shade garden or just need a few more tree and plant suggestions, Kel Lake Garden Centre is the perfect place to be! We are now open for the season so we’re up to assist you with any garden-related queries. Just send us a message or stop by our shop today!

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