Using Summer Garden Shade To Your Advantage

By Tonya Barnett | June 28, 2020
by Tonya Barnett
June 28, 2020

Finding the space for a garden can be quite frustrating. Whether you live in an apartment or a small city lot, there are bound to be numerous obstacles when it comes time to plant. The most common among these is the struggle between sun or shade. While many garden favorites will require full sun, finding balance between light conditions can be an extensive process of trial and error. Fortunately, savvy growers can learn to use gardens with diverse light intensity to their advantage.

Using Summer Garden Shade to Keep Plants Cool

Each summer, a small portion of my garden is filled with heat-loving annual flowers. These plants enjoy locations which receive full sun all day long. Depending on the type of plant, only the hardiest of blooms can withstand the intense summer heat. Celosia, sunflowers, tithonia, and zinnias are mainstays in these flower beds, as they thrive in these conditions. However, full sun is normally a commodity in my yard. But it wasn’t always like this.

As a beginning gardener, I was continually disappointed by the lack of planting space with full sun exposure. Towering over my garden were several large maple trees. These covered the majority of my growing space in a blanket of shade throughout most of the afternoon. This caused many of my sun-loving plants to not bloom as well as they should.

Over the years, I continued to add new plants to the garden, in desperate search for those which would perform well in a space that was partially shaded. It wasn’t until I began growing more delicate and heat sensitive plants that I learned what an asset my shade truly was.

As many southern gardeners know, the heat of midsummer can be quite unforgiving for both plants and gardeners. Under normal conditions, plants like dahlias and hydrangeas would begin to wilt and shrivel in the afternoon sun. Planting in shady areas of my garden, however, allowed for cooler direct sun in the early morning and late in the evenings. The sun intensity and heat during the hottest parts of the afternoons were no longer an issue – no more wilting or shriveling plants. The shadier conditions allowed me to grow healthy, beautiful (heat sensitive) flowers without any additional care.

Not only did this shade keep plants cool, but the shady afternoons made the growing space an enjoyable area me too, a great place to relax and unwind after a stressful day at work. As it would turn out, those large shade trees would prove to be a valuable asset to my garden.

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