Dry Shade Gardens
Landscaping and gardening pose many challenges, and one of the most difficult is dealing with dry shade. These areas typically result from large shade trees that out-compete smaller plants for water and nutrients, or overhanging eaves that cast shadows over the ground. Unfortunately, few plants thrive in dry shade, but there are ways to improve the situation.
One option is to irrigate the area or trim back the tree to allow more sunlight to reach the ground, or both. Alternatively, you can choose plants that are adapted to these conditions. Grass is generally not suitable for dry shade, and replacing it with mulch or groundcover is often a more practical and cost-effective solution. Adding a 4-inch layer of mulch can help retain moisture in the soil, and deep watering of plants will allow the water to penetrate the mulch and be less susceptible to evaporation.
There are many plants that are well-suited to dry shade, including groundcovers such as liriope, yellow archangel, ajuga, pachysandra, and vinca vinor. Perennials like hostas, lungworts, columbines, and hellebores, as well as shrubs such as boxwoods, yews, viburnums, Oregan grape hollies, and Japanese kerrias, can also thrive in these conditions. Japanese maples can work as small trees, but they require regular watering during droughts. This is not an exhaustive list, and there are other plants that can do well in dry shade.