I recently had my house built last year. I have an area approx 3' wide by 30' that faces north in a very shady area in the back of my house.. I would like to fill it with plants, not trees. What plants would you suggest?
Assume this is the narrow strip of space running along the back of the house.
Although it may be in full shade year round, because the space is not deep (only 3 feet) it will get a lot of reflected bright light, unless you have trees blocking sun also. Thus, you have more plant selection options that if you were dealing with, for instance, the middle of a forest.
You can probably plant most shrubs, perennials or groundcovers that call for part shade. Native plants are an excellent idea. Plant an assortment for the best health. Some shrub possibilities are: summersweet, hollies, azaleas (native azaleas are highly fragrant!), rhododendrons, black haw viburnum, mountain laurel (great flowers.)
At ground level, there are several ferns that do well in shade. Avoid painted fern, which can become invasive. Allegheny pachysandra, phlox stolonifera, chelone (turtlehead) lobelia, Virginia bluebells, wood poppy, Canadian ginger, tiarella and May apple are all great plants.
Also, avoid English ivy, a terrible plague of a plant.
If you have a question about a specific plant, don't hesitate to get back to us.