Lawn Plants for Shady Sites 877

Shade can spell trouble for lawns and gardens. Lack of sun can keep many plants from ever reaching their full potential. If you have a spot under a tree, beside a fence or on the shady side of your house where nothing seems to grow, consider these perfect lawn plants for shady sites.


Many shrubs tend to be shade tolerant rather than shade loving, and they will grow well in a location with partial or dappled shade, or a spot that is sunny in the morning and shaded in the afternoon. Shrubs to consider for a shady site include:

  • Boxwood
  • Gardenia
  • Holly
  • Mountain laurel
  • Azalea
  • Rhododendron
  • Hydrangea
  • Winter jasmine

Vines and Groundcovers

Quite a few vines and groundcovers are well adapted to shade since these plants often grow in shady woodland locations in their native environments. Vines and groundcovers offer a good alternative to turf grass in low-traffic areas where dense shade makes it tough for grass to survive. Be careful about planting non-native vines, however, because some of them can grow rampant and be difficult to get rid of.

  • Wintercreeper
  • Wild ginger
  • Sweet box
  • Periwinkle
  • Cross vine
  • American wisteria
  • Boston ivy
  • Virginia creeper
  • Honeysuckle


A wide variety of perennials can thrive in shade, though some may not blossom quite as vigorously as they would in sun. Perennials come back year after year, making them ideal for adding a little color and texture along the sides of your house and other dark corners of your lawn.

  • Violet
  • Primrose
  • Cardinal flower
  • Ferns
  • Golden sedge
  • Lily of the valley
  • Bleeding heart
  • Foxglove
  • Mist flower


Annuals—plants that only live for a single season—usually need at least 6 hours of sunlight every day to flower well. Some of them will tolerate light or partial shade, but they still need at least some sun for flowering. Shade-tolerant options include:

  • Begonia
  • Forget-me-not
  • Pansy
  • Wishbone flower
  • Caladium


Many early-blooming bulbs can grow in shade in springtime, and the shade from a nearby tree can actually help them survive well into summer. Dappled shade is best for most varieties:

  • Calla lily
  • Summer hyacinth
  • Daffodils
  • Autumn crocus
  • Poppy anemone


Vegetable gardening is an often-overlooked option for shady areas, perhaps because most vegetable grow best in full sun. Still, quite a few edible plants can survive and even thrive in the shade:

  • Greens (lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, endive)
  • Herbs (mint, parsley, chervil, coriander)
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
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