Many people associate shaded spots in the home landscape with moist soil conditions, making them good choices for cultivating lush, serene spaces filled with hosta and ferns. However, not all shady spots are the same, and gardeners typically agree that dry shade provides one of the most challenging situations of all. Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks for landscaping in dry, shaded spaces.
Take a Cue From Nature
One of the best things you can do when struggling with landscaping in a patch of dry shade is to look at how nature behaves in the same situation. Locate dry shade in your immediate area, see what's growing under it, and seek similar plants. For instance, contrary to popular opinion, certain types of ferns grow quite well in dry shade. Once you get a general idea of what type of plants might work in your particular space, schedule a meeting with your local landscaping maintenance service to ask for advice and opinions.
Minimize Runoff With Hardscaping
A natural stone retaining wall or even just large stones strategically placed to create a rustic terraced effect will slow down natural runoff, providing it with the opportunity to sink into the soil instead. This approach works best on patches of land that are already slightly sloped. As an added bonus, the stone will bring an element of natural beauty to the picture. This will not only help with retaining natural precipitation, but it will also make it possible for you to get more from your own irrigation efforts.
Amend the Soil With Organic Material
Organic matter is essential for healthy soils. Not only does organic matter provide nutrients to the root zones of plants, but it also helps promote water infiltration and improves the soil's capacity to retain moisture. Working mushroom compost into the soil is a good way to provide organic matter. You can also use livestock manure or peat moss. Keep in mind that the top six inches of the soil are where the majority of the plant root system is, so concentrate on this area.
Plant Shade-Tolerant Lawn Grass
Zoysia and St. Augustine are two examples of turf grass that can grow in dry, low-light areas. You'll need to keep the area fairly well irrigated until the roots become established, and add fertilizer on a regular basis. Prior to planting the seed, work plenty of organic material into the soil. Contact your local landscaping maintenance professional for more information on gardening in dry shade and other landscaping challenges.