garden in the shade

7 Tips for Planting Under Trees in Dry Shade

In Buyers Guide by Jamie

Having a dry shade in your front or back yard can be a huge help in keeping it cool in the summer. It gives you extra protection from the sun while giving you some fresh, cool air. Plus, if you plant under them, it’s aesthetically good, too. I wanted to put together this list of 7 tips for planting under trees dry shade to help all gardeners!

Anyways, why do we talk about dry shades in summer when it is still springtime?

Now is the best time to start planting under the under trees. If you choose the right plants, you can start growing them now and they will bloom beautifully over the summer. However, doing so won’t be easy.

Planting under a dry shade can have different challenges. For one, planting under a tree, in general, pose a threat to its roots and barks that’s already been on the ground for years. Another challenge, especially on the dry shade, is that the shade does not only block the sunlight, but it also decreases any rainfall on the plants.

The good thing is this does not go unresolved. There are a lot of ways that you can plant and grow some beautiful landscape under a dry shade. Rest your worries because we have these incredible tips for you so you can have that beautiful shade over the summer.

What is Dry Shade?

Before we get to the tips, let us first discuss what exactly is a dry shade.

Dry shade is the area (or shade) found under a canopy of a huge, deciduous or leaf-shedding trees. It is called ‘dry’ since the area often lacks moisture partly due to the maturity of the tree.

Dry shades can be a great feature over the summer. Most people create a bit of a sanctuary in their backyards under these shades. It could be a nice spot for a playhouse, a swing, or a reading bench. But it would be more lovely to add beauty to your home by planting a variety of plants under the shade.


7 Tips for Planting Under Trees in Dry Shade

As we mentioned, planting under a tree could be pretty much challenging. So, we give you these tips so you can ease your way in planting a beautiful landscape underneath the tree.

1. Meet tree’s needs first.

In planting under the tree, you must check the condition of the tree first. Ask yourself: which direction is it growing? Are there any pests eating up the leaves? Can the soil hold more plants? Is the soil moist enough? How much sun is it getting?

These are a few questions that will answer to what your tree needs. It is important to meet the tree’s needs first since they are the primary and most important part of this process.

If you think that the tree is healthy enough – most especially its soil – then you can proceed with your planting ideas.

2. Be careful in digging.

Always be careful when you dig around to accommodate your new plants. Being reckless about it might kill your tree in the process.

Make sure to not hit or damage any tree roots or barks. Most roots grow in the shallows and are very sensitive. If you hit a root as you dig, just leave it as it is. Never cut a root especially those that are already 2 inches in diameter. Doing so can cause bacteria to come in roots and damage the tree in the long run.

3. Dig individual holes.

Planting under a dry shade is a lot of hard work. You can’t be lazy and just dig one huge hole to plant everything in. Dig individual holes instead.

While it might be very tasking to think about, but digging individual holes minimizes any root disturbances. It also allows you to plot your plants carefully and properly in place.

Try to start small when choosing plants. Look for liner plants are those with small root balls so that you won’t find the need to dig deep. Hence, lessening the chance of damaging the tree’s roots.

4. Grow plants that are known to grow in shade.

This is one tip you should consider most. Like we mentioned earlier, planting under a tree can be challenging because of so many different factors. One of which is sunlight.

Choose plants that can grow well even under the shade. You can go for Azaleas and Rhododendrons or Hydrangeas and Japonicas. They don’t only grow under dry conditions, but they are perfect for most seasons, too.

5. Plant during early spring.

You may want to take advantage of the perfect weather during spring if you’d love some beautiful buds in the summer.

You can include planting some flowering buds so they would be ready to bloom throughout the summer.

6. Consider a variety of plants.

Don’t just plant one kind. Consider having a variety but just a few. Do not bombard your dry shade with too much variety because it can pose different problems, too. These plants may have different needs and may not be compatible with each other.

You can choose to grow at least 3 different varieties just to add some color and style as they grow. Then grow as many seedlings of these 3 varieties all over the dry shade.

Vary your plants and add those with bold colors or of different textures. This can add beauty to your dry shade and would surely catch some attention.

7. Don’t add soil or fertilizer.

During the first year, do not add a thick layer of soil above your newly planted seedlings. Since it may lead the plants’ root growth upwards instead of downwards deep into the soil. We all know they need to go that way because that’s where most of the soil’s nutrients are. Plus, roots growing upward can cause more damage to the grown of the plant.

Don’t use fertilizer during the first year, either. Let your plants grow naturally under the conditions of the soil rather than ‘feeding’ it with organic fertilizer.

You can rake the leaves that fall on the bed and set them aside and make compost. You can then use this organic fertilizer the following year.

8. Mind the water.

Keeping your soil moist and your plants hydrated can be challenging in the beginning. So, try to provide supplemental water during the first year and just as needed in the next years to come.


Best annuals for dry shade?

Best perennials for dry shade?

Best ferns for dry shade?

  • Polystichum setiferum ‘Herrenhausen’
  • Polypodium vulgare ‘Bifidomultifidum’
  • Dryopteris filix-mas ‘Linearis Polydactyla’
  • Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Cristatum’
  • Dryopteris filix-mas ‘Parsley’

Other Dry Shade Planting Tips

Planting under a tree can bring in more freshness and beauty in your yard. It adds colors and textures that would make your shade look like an old boring one.

If you have a bigger yard or a full garden, you can extend planting these along the pathway or make it appear like a carpet. Better yet, if you have another tree across it, make these plants seem like a bridge from one dry shade to another. You can have one tree where you plant all these beautiful shrubs and flowers while you can have another tree to relax on.

Get your planting project going and enjoy its fruits in the end.