Shrubs for north side of house?

Ginny McLean_Petite_GardenMay 9, 2009

I would like to start planning the very blah north side of my house. Years ago my mom grew a few shrubs there that eventually got destroyed by the dogs (they were in their pen). Nothing has been planted there since, not even grass. I would like to put some shrubs in and maybe some shade plants like hostas, coral bells, columbine ect. It gets no sun next to the house and pretty much little or no sun even out about 10 feet due to tree shade. I have a couple of dogwood babies, Cornus sericea "Cardinal" and a Cornus alba "Ivory Halo". Any ideas for shrubs would be greatly appreciated.


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I have no suggestions for shrubs. I don't know of any but Dogwood that grows well in your zone and the shade. I am in your zone and have a north facing front too and I have a couple of cedars there but I have a bit more sun than you. If you want to push your zone though you might try yews.

I do have a couple of suggestions for flowers though. Try Creeping Jennie moneywort-Aurora. It has yellow foliage and yellow long lasting flowers. Another one I have is Lamium--it's fast growing and I cut pieces out of it every year to keep it under control. Mine has white leaves and purple flowers.

I will be keeping an eye on this post to see what others suggest--I may end up with a new plant or two too.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2009 at 9:37PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I'm interested in this as well because my daughter just purchased a house with a well-shaded front yard. I noticed today that she has some variegated goutweed along the foundation on one side of the front door, but i'm interested in planting something else for her that is pretty much care free as she "doesn't do gardening" (she says!). At first i thought about peonies, but i think there's too much shade for them. Lamium and Creeping Jenny are good suggestions as well. I don't have Creeping Jenny, but all my lamiums are great and very pretty.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 10:37PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

Peonies need lots of sun to mature and bloom so probably not a good idea.

I just found a book I bought a couple of years ago. It is called "Alberta Yards and Gardens - What to Grow". According to this book Dogwood, Cotoneaster, Currant, Hydrangea and Mockorange are tolerant of shade. I have not had a Mockorange or a Hydrangea but both are worth a try. And both bloom for a while anyway.


    Bookmark   May 10, 2009 at 11:40PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Coincidentally, i just bought a hydrangea and a mockorange - but she's not getting them! LOL

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 8:10AM
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Lily of the Valley and ferns will do well and some of the ferns can get taller. Hydrangea does well in shade. We have nanking cherry on the NE corner of our house that does very nicely although it does get about 3hrs of sun.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 11:34AM
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Honalee There are several shrubs that would work in shady areas. Some you may want to try are
: Burning bush - will tolerate shade with moisture and will need a good snow cover or protection from winter winds
: Viburnums- European Cranberry( V. opulus "Nanum" grows 2-3 ft. but no fall colour
-Snowball ( V.opulus" Snowball" great white flowers , plant 2-3 together for impact.
-"Wentworth" super fall colour
: Euonymus tolerates sun to heavy shade(semi hardy) needs winter protection and avoid placing in areas with winter drying winds ( I've had Emerald Gaiety & Gold Prince for several years now)
:Amur Maple ( Acer Ginnala) will tolerate parial shade
: Ninebark-"tilden Parks" only one suitable as a ground cover 15-20" ht & 2-4' wide good dk. green thick foliage
: Snowberry( Symphoricarpos albus) great white berries
: Sumac
Hope these give you some ideas- I'd consider putting in some spring flowers or perrenials-Bleeding heart ,Solomans seal, Goat's Beard Trilliums Hellebores etc

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 1:28PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

I had a bleeding heart over there but it wasn't too happy. I moved it to an East exposure and it took off.
I do have a couple of ninebarks and a burning bush in other places in the yard. I think Mom had a Cotoneaster and a Currant on that north side.

As for perennials, no Lily of the Valley! Very poisonious to dogs! But I would love to put some ferns in there. Eventually, I would lke to put a pond in on that side. So much to do first. Thought I would start planning and start with the shrubs.

Lots of good ideas. Thanks guys.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 3:08PM
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Please no lily of the valley. It spreads by rhysomes under the soil. Is invasive and hard to get rid of. Unless you have a place wher you can let it run rampant I would forget about it.

It took me 4 years to eradicate it from my flower bed.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 7:42PM
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Pudge 2b

On the north side of an older home near me used to be the most beautiful cedars. The yard had shade from trees, as well, and these small cedars looked good all the time, winter & summer, and didn't seem to be bothered that they maybe saw the sun for an hour at 5 a.m. and another hour at 8 p.m. in the summer. Additionally, the house was empty for a few years and so there was no supplemental watering, care, pruning, etc - they thrived and looked beautiful. I often thought a planting of a brightly coloured hosta in front of those cedars, or a mass planting of variegated goutweed (I know, I know, but it really is a superb plant in certain situations) would have looked stunning. The smaller cedars, a group of 3 of them, were like a small global. There was also a Brandon and another unknown larger one.

At another house near me on the north side quite close to the foundation is a dwarf Alberta spruce, planted haphazardly by an inexperienced gardener grass growing right up to the trunk, knocked weekly by the lawnmower, and when it's not shaded by the house, it's shaded by a large Manitoba Maple tree. It's thriving. Go figure.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 7:56PM
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Ginny McLean_Petite_Garden

I agree that goutweed has it's place and at least it is not thistle! I have, on that side of the house, a huge white spruce (at least 45 years old), a manitoba maple about 40 years old and an elm about the same age. When they leaf out there is pretty much no sun to speak of. And then of course this sets up my next challenge. What to grow under that huge spruce tree. Rocks, I guess? Goutweed?


    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 1:40AM
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Grow lamium under that spruce tree. I have some under cedars and some under a maple and it thrives there

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 8:07AM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I have several plants in an area under a couple of spruces and a cedar - a fernleaf bleeding heart, ligularia, tradescantia, for a few.

Lily of the Valley has not been invasive for me. I put it in an area where i wanted it to spread and it hasn't. It's been there for over ten years and just starting to spread a bit. The area is pretty deeply shaded, on a slight slope down to a creek. I put some goutweed there last summer. I may be sorry. :>

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 8:54PM
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