Ideas for shrubs for a dry shady spot please

PoddingtonPPoddingtonP Posts: 196

I have an area down the side of my drive which is shaded by next doors very large sycamore trees. The border still gets some sun, as the trees are to the north of them, and especially in spring when the leaves aren't out yet. I've planted it with a number of shrubs, but nothing seems to be thriving as it is so dry from the sycamores, and also suffers from honeydew/sooty mould from aphids on the sycamores. 

So my question is- any ideas for tough shrubs or perennials that will be happy here - part shade, dry, and aphid infested?!?! 

I am planing on planting a load of spring bulbs, and also hoping to plant shrubs that would fill out, but as everything is suffering, nothing is really taking off, so perhaps some ideas for ground cover too until the shrubs get established. (Am thinking alchemilla mollis and some hardy geraniums so far). 



  • yarrow2yarrow2 Posts: 732

    PoddingtonP - neighbour and I are having her elm felled very shortly as it's canopy causes darkness in both gardens - but worse for me, the roots from the tree are under my garden stretching about 15-20 foot counting the hairy subsidiary roots.  This is why I have a 20ft area where all my shrubs consistently die off - caused by shade, by the tree sucking up the moisture - but mostly because the roots turned out to be fairly shallow under my soil - from a foot deep onwards.  The roots were also working their way upwards over the years coming to almost the surface.  So my shrubs which were thriving 4 years ago gradually got weaker, were never lush, growth was stunted, and they shrivelled up.  For some stupid reason - I had never noticed the roots of the tree gradually working their way up nearer the surface of the soil as the years passed.

    Our tree surgeon is felling the tree as it has become host to repetitions of scale, swarms of flies and all kinds of nasty beasties and our gardens are damp and dark due to the tree canopy - as well as the drip on the plants below from the canopy.  However, because we live in town flats with limited entrance to the back gardens, a root remover and grinder cannot be brought in to the area - so we are being left with a stump and the roots in situ.  So this is a problem for me - being stuck with those roots underground.  (Yes, I've thought about digging down and attacking them with my saw - but don't have the energy.).  So I am stuck with the fact that nothing will grow there longer than something very shallowly rooted - so I am currently working out what to do with this area to make it both productive and attractive.  Sorry to go off topic a little.  But I think you should have a dig down in your area...or hammer a pointed pole down in different places - and see if you have root obstruction which may be causing problems for your shrubs at the roots.

    I dug out a Pieris Forest Flame Yesterday - took an hour simply because it transpired the elm tree roots had grown larger around the roots of the Pieris and literally crushed the Pieris roots in between its own roots.   It hadn't occurred to me that this might be what was killing off my shrubs slowly over only 4 years.


    My situation here may of course be totally irrelevant to yours as you say the sycamores are north of your planted area so they are maybe some distance away whereby roots would not be a problem at all.

  • PoddingtonPPoddingtonP Posts: 196

    Thanks Verdun. A useful list to look at. The other issue is rabbits - a few you have mentioned I already have in my garden and have been munched by the rabbits (tiarella, liriope and brunneras). But one of the few things that has done well in the shady spot is an acer, and there are so many pretty ones so I may well get another different one.

    Sarcococca is a good call too. 



  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 3,970

    There is a whole host of shrubs that will do in a dry and shady area although I think you may have to keep them watered for the first year. Hypericum, leycesteria, skimmia, kerria, aucuba, euonymus, santolina and berberis. I think they all may survive a rabbit attack.

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • PoddingtonPPoddingtonP Posts: 196

    Thanks hogweed. I like the look of leycesteria. And I have a kerria growing through our beech hedge so might have a go at moving a clump of it this autumn. Hadn't thought of that, thank you! 


  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,091

    Choisya sounds an unlikely suggestion but I find it does well in dry shade.

  • PoddingtonPPoddingtonP Posts: 196

    Perhaps that's what I need verdun. If it put it in the shadiest, dryest spot that nothing else will grow in? Can you keep it under control by hard pruning though? 

  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 3,970

    My leycesteria has been very well behaved. Grows to about 6-7 feet with me.

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
Sign In or Register to comment.