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Suitable Trees and Shrubs for Backyard Facing North East

Hi there all you green pros, newbie here! I am moving into a new little house in the city and I am keen to grow a green sanctuary in my small backyard. I am researching plants and trees that I could plant in areas that will rarely if ever see the sun, but some sites say that an Allegheny Serviceberry needs heavy shade while others say it needs full sun, for example. I feel a bit out of my depth tbh so your expertise or recommended links would be much appreciated!


  • CloggieCloggie Posts: 1,455
    You sound like you might be in America sap?  Whenever I'm faced with a shady spot I like to use Fatsia Japonica or Mahonia as a tall plant; Hostas or euonymus or Astrantia or gorgeous maples as medium plants and you can select from London Pride,  Bugle and other more adventurous beauties for ground cover.  I'm UK though so these might not suit your climate.

    i think the thing to do is to try.  The only reason I can name these plants is because I've tried them in the past.  It can be overwhelming but it's also exciting.  Keep us updated with your garden as it unfolds, it's nice to see new projects.
  • Hiya Cloggie, I'm based in UK too so your suggestions are really helpful, thank you! I'll check those gems out for sure. Very excited to bring my garden to life : )
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,199
    What sort of size is the space, and is it damp or dry in your area? Do you want shrubs, perennials or a mix? Trees? What is the soil like?
    That will help with suggestions.  :)
    Some plants are quite adaptable, but some will need a moister soil, and some won't. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • sap202LiiCR2Xrsap202LiiCR2Xr Posts: 4
    edited June 2022
    Heya Fairygirl, thanks for your reply. It's a small yard that faces northeast and is overshadowed by the house so never sees the sun so I guess it can get a bit cold and damp. I intend to redesign the space to accommodate plant beds, shrubs, borders, some trees to hide the massive brick wall opposite, etc. Will most likely change the floor too. Photo attached for a better idea if that helps : ) 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,199
    The ground will be poor, so it's worth spending as much on the prep of your borders as you would on the plants. Lots of organic matter will be needed.  :)
    As it's shady, shrubs like Viburnum will be fine, and so will Potentillas and Spireas. The white ones are particularly good for that sort of aspect. Some viburnums are evergreen too. Sambucus are generally fine with some shade as well - some have dark foliage but there's a very good bright yellowy green one - Sutherland's Gold which would be ideal for brightening the area. Anything with yellowy/creamy variegated foliage is ideal because it's brighter. Lots of Euonymus fortunei varieties will suit. Fatsia japonica likes shade and will give you an evergreen, large leafed specimen plant. 
    Loads of perennials will also be fine - for a bit of height there's  Polemonium and Dicentra [it has a new name - Lamprocapnos] Polygonatum, Japanese anemones and Acteas [those like damper soil] and for lower level - Hostas, hardy Geraniums, Primulas, Hellebores, Ferns, and many spring bulbs like Snowdrops and Crocus, Muscari and Fritillaries.
    The nursery  will give you some ideas too.
    Climbers might be better for the walls rather than trees, or you may find it very enclosed and even more shady. Many clematis are more than happy in shade. You can take a look at the specialist sites to get ideas - Taylors, Thorncroft and Hawthornes.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,245
    My advice is look at similar shady yards (or photos of) with a style and appearance that appeals to you. Then look at what has been planted there. We can throw you loads of suggestions but it needs to be tied in to the 'look' you want to achieve. 
  • Thank you very much Fairygirl and Loxley for your helpful responses. I have a much better idea of the right kind of plants now so that's the most daunting part over with. Can't wait to get stuck in and post some before n after pics 🌸🏡🌿 Cheers again everyone 😇
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,195
    @sap202LiiCR2Xr I'd think twice about replacing the tiles, it will take an enormous amount of effort and you would have to factor in the cost of disposing them as well as a replacement surface, lawn would not do well in a shady setting. I would be inclined to gravel over most of it and just dig up the patches where you want to plant things.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
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