If you have a small patch of garden in the middle of the city, the chances are that it will be overlooked by a building, fence or perhaps your neighbours’ trees. Shaded gardens are one of the more common features in our compact city dwellings.
Shaded garden design can provide many visual and practical challenges to the garden designer, they can also offer an opportunity to create a wonderful, visually stimulating oasis of calm and tranquillity.
For many a shaded garden can be seen as a problem.
Firstly, because as a rule you can’t grow some of the brighter flower varieties such as roses, tulips or salvias in shady conditions and for many people a garden must have colour to count.
Whilst a lack of light can be a problem for plants which come from hotter or more tropical climates, but there are many gorgeous plants which have adapted to the conditions found in shade.
Secondly, a shaded garden can suggest one which is cooler and perhaps not somewhere you would choose to sit. However it can provide a welcome retreat from our hotter summer weather.
Although you can’t always do anything about a garden space being in the shade, you can design gardens to make the most of a shaded location and even embrace the qualities and opportunities of a shaded spot. A shady garden does not have to be a bland and colourless area. With good planting and use of hard landscaping you can have a kaleidoscope of colour in the shadiest of garden spaces.
The shaded basement garden we designed for our clients in Hampstead proves you can have a glorious space even in a basement area.
Opportunities when designing shaded gardens, beds and borders:
Shaded garden design of limited ligth spaces offers the chance to successfully grow plants which thrive in woodland and cooler climates. Ferns, hellebores, hydrangeas, heuchera and a whole host of other wonderful leafy and flowering plants will thrive in the cooler, shadier garden.
Here are some of the challenges and solutions to shaded garden design:
Shaded gardens often come hand in hand with being small. If this is the case, try not to clutter your garden or make it too distracting. A very successful way of handling small and shaded is to play on a theme; for example ferns and hostas come in a multitude of sizes, colours and styles and can create a tapestry that captivates the eye.
Make planting areas moveable; pots and planters are a great way to grow plants that need some light throughout the year. If the sun falls on different areas of your garden over the year then you may want to plant tulips, roses or other sun light loving varieties in pots so that they can be repositioned to catch the light.
Use light reflecting materials such as polished paving stone, glass, mirrors and chrome metals to bounce light around the garden.
Include plants with shiny, light reflecting leaves, such as Fatsia japonica, to lighten the garden. Similarly, shade loving plants with white flowers, such as hellebores, Aquilegia or anemone will lighten dark and shady areas.
Use lighting to brighten up the shade on darker days and into the evening. We added an outdoor lighting scheme to the shaded basement garden we designed for our Hampstead clients.
If the space allows you may want to consider adding a fire pit or out door cooking area which will add warmth and brightness on the cooler darker evenings.
Shaded Garden Design in Hampstead Case Study
The challenges of this small, shaded basement courtyard:
The garden was shaded due to tall walls surrounding a small space.
The garden was on two different levels, the drop to the basement kitchen required a solution for a safe and attractive passage up and down between the levels.
The dark paving tiles made the space feel smaller plus they lacked grip and were slippery when wet.
The uninterrupted white walls made the garden feel a little stark rather than light.
The clients didn’t have much time for gardening so needed a fairly low maintenance garden.
The Shaded Basement Garden design solutions:
Solutions to make this shaded garden a space to enjoy:
With such a small space every inch needed to be made to work. We designed beds around the boundaries which allowed us to plant taller, standard trees to draw the eye up but not encroach into the middle of the space. This also helped to break up the expanse of walling.
We planted a minimalistic palette of shade loving species which gave maximum impact without making the space seem to ‘busy’ or cluttered.
The plants and materials were chosen for to be low maintenance and easy care.
We introduced new paving which was much paler in colour and had a non-slip finish. The new paving allowed more light to bounce around the space and the non-slip finish made moving between the two levels safer.
Do you have shaded garden, courtyard or basement that needs a redesign?
Contact Hampstead Garden Designs and take the ﬁrst step into your beautiful new garden.