North-facing yards are tricky to landscape because they get so much shade throughout the year. If the yard is small, a good part of it may be in the shadow of the house for most of the day. It is important to make the shade a key factor in planning the garden. Consider the sun requirements of the plants when purchasing them as well as how well they thrive in your local USDA growing zone. North-facing yards can receive a lot of wind, so choose hardy plants.
Use grass that is appropriate for shady conditions, such as tall fescue. Grass that needs plenty of sun will become weak and start to die in the shade, especially during the winter months.
Plant trees and shrubs that are short so they don't block the sun. Small hedges and deciduous trees work well. The sun will shine through deciduous trees in the winter. Choose varieties that are resistant to strong winds. Many north-facing locations get a lot of wind from the northwest.
Grow perennial and annual shade-loving flowers, including columbine, coral bells, bleeding hearts and hostas. Periwinkle and lily-of-the valley are shade-loving ground-cover options.
Choose structures that don't block the sun. This isn't the type of garden for large trellises, gazebos or sun-blocking statues. Use benches, small statues or picnic tables instead. Make a tranquil sitting area that can be enjoyed in the summer months when the south-facing yard is too hot.
- Utah State University; Landscaping for the New Frontier; Susan Meyer, et al.
- University of Nebraska-Lincolon Extension; Landscapes for Shade; Ann Streich; 1997
- Colorado State University Extension; Sustainable Landscaping; J. Bousselot; April 2005
- URI Greenshare: Shade Gardens
- Alabama Cooperative Extension; Turfgrass; Tony Glover
- Colorado State University; Perennial Shade Gardening; Dick Christensen; Aug. 2007
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