Small gardening in Michigan's Thumb

Asked March 11, 2018, 4:04 PM EDT

What good options are there for a shaded, fecund garden about 15 square feet? There is a garage, house, and tall spruces blocking most light, but in the afternoons there is partial sun and direct sun in some areas.

The photo shows afternoon sun. The downspout can't be moved. For shaded area, I need some ideas about what to replace Creeping Charlie and the other weeds.

My goal is to replace the lawn and make it more of a viewing garden without the need to mow, just weed as needed.

St. Clair County Michigan

1 Response


If the soil is moist/wet consider plants for damp or wet sites like ferns, snakeroot and rogersia. Other plants that can be used are red-osier dogwood or red-berried elderberry. When planting new perennials be sure to water them during dry times in the first and second seasons, while they are establishing their roots.

Arrange the tallest plants towards the back so they don’t block the light, and your view, of the plants in front. Use a small sculpture, bird feeder, or rocks to give some interest and variety. Choose a low grower to fill in gaps such as lamium or liriope. A few annuals planted each spring in the front can add spots of long lasting color, such as New Guinea Impatiens or Torenia or colorful-leaved coleus.

Use hardiness zone 5 or lower perennial plants to give them the best chance to survive our cold winters. If you haven’t had a soil test in this area, consider getting one so you will know if the soil is lacking nutrients or organic matter. Check your library for books on shade gardens or search the internet for pictures and garden layout ideas.

Here are some references for you-

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