Shaded areas in the landscape can be a challenge, especially if the shade is caused by immovable features like a house or hillside. In this case, you must plan your landscape design to work with the shade.

1. Hidden Grotto

One place in the yard where shade is usually appreciated is on patios and other seating areas. Creating a little seating grotto in a shady spot adds a touch of romance to any yard. In small areas, a cozy bench for two surrounded by layers of ferns and shade-loving foliage plants creates a nice place for a little tête-à-tête. A larger space may be the perfect location to add a patio or a larger conversation area for casual group gatherings. 

2. Simple Zen 

There is no reason why there must be a bunch of plants in a shaded spot. If the shade is heavy enough to make growing too challenging, a zen garden provides a nice alternative. Go the traditional route with a sand or fine gravel bed dotted with some peaceful statuary and interesting boulders. You can leave it as is or provide rakes to create meditative designs in the sand. If this sounds too formal, then simply riff on the aesthetics of the zen garden and instead create a rock garden that borrows statuary and design elements from tradition, but doesn't require the hands-on raking. 

3. Water Features

Ponds and water features often benefit from being in a shadier area, as algae and other pond scum problems aren't as severe when there is less sun exposure. That makes that shadowy area in your yard the perfect place to put in the water feature of your dreams. For example, you can surround a small pond and waterfall feature with shade-loving ferns and hostas, or put in a beautiful fountain with seating areas encircling it. 

4. Shade Garden

If you prefer the natural beauty of plants, there are plenty of options available that will thrive in the shade. The key is to layer the plants by growing a combination of lush ground covers, low-profile plants and sub-shrubs, and taller shrubs. This creates more depth in a shaded area, making it look more lush and fuller. Low lady ferns intermixed with the bright but dainty blooms of bleeding hearts and begonias can be quite striking, especially when growing against a backdrop of taller bee balm plants. There are plenty of plants that thrive in shade, so there are options for any design preference. 

Contact a landscape design service if you need more help developing a shaded part of your yard.