Help with shade and trees

wolfy528(7)August 17, 2012

I have posted a picture, hopefully it comes through. I have an area under the trees I am trying to landscape and looking for opinions. In my area most everything is red clay. I have pine bark as my mulch. I am just not happy with how it looks.

Also plants are struggling this year in this area. Maybe it has been the lack of rain but I feel it is something else going on. I have lost 2 hosta already.

I have 2 other areas in my yard just like this one. With trees and shade only more shady than this one. I want to grow something other than lip rope and hosta's, any suggestions?

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another area

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 9:03PM
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last one

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 9:04PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I think you just need to keep adding more variety to provide some blooms or different foliage, as well as to explore whether different plants will survive better in those areas. Plants that come to mind include ferns, columbine, foxglove, Jacob's Ladder, Sweet Woodruff, Heuchera, azaleas, wild geranium. I'm running out of ideas off the top of my head. You could winter sow a bunch of things very inexpensively. Good luck.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 10:11PM
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I think it looks pretty and well maintained the way it is, but I understand your desire to fill it in a bit more. I'm not in your zone so any ideas I have would not be worth much.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 11:56PM
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I'm in zone 8 in Oregon. We get little to no rain in summer, so by August the garden under my trees starts to suffer. You can find plant lists for dry shade, but since those are deciduous trees, I'd start with hellebores in as many colors as you can find. They look good year round until right before bloom, when you need to cut off last years' ratty foliage. They flower mid to late winter and the flowers last through spring.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 2:55PM
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A nicely placed Rhododendren or azalea or even perhaps a hydrangea(thinking Oakleaf) also may dress up the area and fill in a considerable amount of space leaving minimal area to worry about for mulch and fill in plants. Just a thought off the top of my head. this would also however depend on the type of trees and therefore root compatition from such.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 10:38PM
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I have several azalea's planted there for the past 3 years. They have not grown much and you barely see them unless they are in bloom. I tried a hydrangea but had to move it. These are oak trees and I believe the roots are making it difficult for the plants I have planted. I planted ferns and like everything else they are alive but barely growing. Maybe I am just impatient and in a few more years things will start to grow. Day lily did horrible on the borders even variegated monkey grass failed to thrive. I had to really amend the hosta to keep it going. There is not really soil underneath just tangled up roots and wood chips. I have used compost, peat etc.. around each plant. It is dry and well draining - maybe too well or because the oaks hog the water. Even grass struggles under these oak trees. My sun garden is so pretty and thriving and makes these areas look ill by comparison. I can keep things alive under these trees (except hydrangea) but they grow very little.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:16AM
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Some plants that do well for me in FULL shade,
Salomon's Seal, Cardinal Flower, Foam Flower, lots of ferns. And they are all growing under the drip line of large oak trees.......... - AL

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 1:13PM
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railroadrabbit(7b - Atlanta)

You need more mulch. You will also need to water most plants to get them established, and keep watering if the top 3 inches of soil is dry. A large oak will remove more than 400 gallons of water per day from the ground.

I have a water oak (covers a 75' wide circle). I had a nurseryman tell me nothing would grow under a water oak in this area (near Stone Mountain, GA) because of the tree's shallow roots and water use. All of the grass under the drip line died as the tree grew.

I contacted a tree surgeon and asked for wood chip mulch, which was free including delivery. After a couple of years the wood chips will begin to turn into black compost if you pile at least 6 inches deep. The wood chips will use nitrogen as they decay, so you may need to supplement with fertilizer if the chips are too near plants.

I threw several handfuls of nandina berries under the tree one spring. The nandinas sprouted and established well under the tree. They grow more slowly than in the sun, but they are producing berries. I remove the berries before they become ripe, because birds carry the seeds everywhere and nandinas are becoming invasive in the wild and will choke out native plants. I break off the canes that grow taller than 2'.

Autumn Fern has grown well under my oak for several years. Last fall I planted other ferns that survived the summer: Christmas Fern, Maidenhair Fern, Royal Fern, Tassel Fern, Southern Lady Fern.

August Lily (Hosta Plantaginea) has 5-inch fragrant blooms in August and showy green leaves.

Huchera (Coral Bells) also grow well. Cultivars are available with leaves of various colors of green and purple.

Dicentra Eximia - Fringed Bleeding Heart keeps its leaves all year and flowers through the summer.

Gold-Dust Plant (Aucuba japonica) is an evergreen shrub happiest in partial to full shade, but will eventually grow to about 7' high unless pruned. (These are easy to root from cuttings.)

Coleus and Impatiens will tolerate the shade, but need moisture. The old-fashioned impatiens (Impatiens Balsamina)will flower all summer and re-seed themselves.

The Georgia Native Plant Society has an annual plant sale in April with native plants that are naturally adapted to Zone 7. See their website for other options.

Here is a link that might be useful: Click here for Georgia Native Plant Society

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 6:07AM
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A couple of others to think about are Fatsia...which are evergreen and very tropical looking, but will scorch in the sunlight..and will need water to get through a GA summer...and Pieris japonica, which have a few varieties to choose from...are evergreen, with both attractive foliage and spectacular blooms. Aside from that, I will echo that autumn ferns, Gold dust aucuba, and impatiens all add alot of great texture and color. Good luck

    Bookmark   February 20, 2013 at 10:16AM
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