Shade Shrubs for front landscape

mack26November 3, 2009

I live in Virginia and recently purchased a house that I would like to improve on the poor landscaping. I want to focus my effort on the front yard for now since its what is visible and also since I can't afford a whole yard make over. My front yard faces north, and as such doesn't receive a lot of sunlight. There are no large trees in front, just the shade from the house. My question is, what are some good shrubs that don't get more than six foot high that would work well in a shady site like I have. The soil is typical red Virginia clay. I plan on adding compost to it and working it in to improve it, but I don't know that it will drastically change the soil composition.

So far, I have been thinking of yews, barberries, burmald spirea, snowberry, and oakleaf hydrangea. I would like a plant that has good color, flowers, scent, etc. I know that probably no plant meets all of these, but I just don't want a plain, all green hedge in front, I'd like some color and texture variety. Thanks for your help, and I look forward to your suggestions for landscaping my front yard.

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Unless your house is more than 2 stories or you are only referring to foundation plantings, this area should receive some pretty good light, if not direct sunlight. My front entry garden faces north and because of surrounding trees in other areas, is the only portion of my garden than can be considered full sun. Obviously not the portion immediately adjacent to the house but extending out to the property line (only a depth of 20'), this area is in full sun in summer.

The barberries and spiraea would be happier in more sun than shade - I'd move them out as far as possible. Other choices you might want to include are rhododendrons, azaleas, pieris, kalmia, itea, leucothoe, sarcococca (sweet box), clethra, daphne, other hydrangea species, various viburnums, and twig or shrub dogwoods. Some of these may not be hardy for your zone (whatever that is) so check with local garden centers or your extension office for appropriate selections.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 10:23AM
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I second the azaleas and rhododendrons! If I didn't have horses, I'd plant a bunch. They like acid soil, but you can add things to the soil if necessary. They come in many colors and are so pretty when they bloom :)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 5:37PM
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Will Nandina grow in your area? Nandina domestica grows about 6 ft, has bright red berries in late fall thru winter, and turns pretty colors in late winter. Firepower turns some beautiful colors too.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 9:48PM
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