How to Make Your Trees Look Great

How to use foliage plants to highlight your trees and grove while making a diverse, low-maintenance and visually interesting garden display isn’t an art.

When you hear the term ‘foliage plants’, many tend to think of house plants used to decorate your home. However, the term extends to the tree grove and garden as well. Foliage plants may be used as an artistic device to create a fascinating mixture of color, height and texture that makes a stroll in the garden a true delight while at the same time framing your trees.

When you use foliage plants to add visual interest, you’ll also realize the benefit of reduced maintenance. Instead of a huge expanse of lovely, well-manicured lawn, punctuated by a tree or shrub here and there – which can become quite a chore to maintain, with all that mowing. A garden consisting of a number of foliage plants, used as ground cover, spots of color and drifts of plants in various heights, with leaves ranging from variegated, plump leaves to tall, wispy grasses and robustly bushy flowering shrubs lets you can see that you can have quite a welcome retreat within the space of the averaged-size home lot. It will also tend to keep undesireable weeds and vines from crawling up your trees.

Scotch broom provides a sturdy, low-maintenance barrier in place of a less elegant looking fence. These foliage plants have the bonus of giving you a lovely shot of bright yellow flowers during the spring months, with smoothly textured leaves.

Many plants with variegated leaves are well suited to shady areas of the garden and under trees, bringing a splash of color to those darker areas and grove shade. Some examples include coleus, begonias, cyclamen and hosta.

The texture of the leaves of garden plants is an important element in achieving the diversity that makes for an interesting garden and grove. A stand of day lilies, with their graceful, strappy leaves contrasts nicely with a border of St. John’s Wort, a ground cover with its matte, rounded leaves which requires little maintenance and beautiful yellow flowers in the spring season.

The rustle of the leaves of ornamental grasses provides a soothing, peaceful sound and feel, as well as several distinct colorations, ranging from a straw-like beige to deep rusts and combinations of striking colors.

Ground covers such as creeping thyme and Irish Moss are great additions between paving stones or bordering pathways. Ask your arborist and nursery staff for recommendations on ground covers suited to your growing zone. There are a number of ground covers which support foot traffic and are terrifically low-maintenance. Ground covers have the added advantage of suppressing the growth of weeds, providing nutrients for your trees, and serving as mulches to retain valuable water.

One easy and fun way to begin a search for foliage plants for your garden is to conduct a Google image search. There are literally millions of photos of foliage plants! Surely you’ll find a few dozen which might find a home in your garden and grove of trees!

Under Tree Flowering Shade Plants

Create a masterpiece in your shady garden spot: flowering shade plants make a delightful spot in summer’s heat!

Many gardeners bemoan that shady part of the garden due to tree branches and leaves, believing that nothing will really thrive in such a sunless environment. This is a myth. There are literally thousands of flowering shade plants you can use to brighten up any shady corner, creating a lovely summer retreat where you can kick back with a book and a tall glass of lemonade, enjoying both the restful moments and the spectacular view. Let’s see how this might be accomplished without trimming your trees.

Using flowering shade plants to create your masterpiece garden may take more than one season, especially when planting perennials and plants that bloom at different seasons. However, the effort will be well worth your time. After all, you probably haven’t been making the best use of the areas under tree shade now is your chance to make that spot ready for House & Gardens!

You’ll want to map out your area, measuring as closely as possible, noting pathways, tree drip lines and the like. Decide what types of plants you want there and give some consideration to color schemes. Next, give Google a whirl with an image inquiry on flowering shade plants. This is a quick way for you to determine flower shapes, plant heights, flowering seasons and colors that suit you while factoring in what tree growth will happen with over hanging limbs. Remember that different plants may require an acid or alkaline soil. Many do enjoy a more acid environment, as is found in woodland, shaded areas and especially under pine trees. Copy images of those you find pleasing, or just jot down a few notes on each plant, growth habit, flower color and whether it is an annual or perennial.

Many shade gardens benefit from plantings of various heights and seasonality, resulting in a more diverse landscape. Remember, too, that bulbs may be effectively integrated such that when a spring or fall-blooming bulb is spent, another of your shade flowering plants is ready to fill the gap.

Before making your purchases, check with your local nursery to be sure your choices are hardy to your growing region. Below, we’ve identified some lovely shade bloomers to get your imagination going. A few of our recommendations are not actually flowering shade plants, but have foliage that is so colorful in every season, they provide that color you’re looking for under your existing stand of trees.

For late winter and early spring color, Helleborus, also known as Christmas Rose, provides a lovely deer proof ground cover for tree shaded areas. Azaleas and Rhododendrons are spectacular early to mid-spring blooming shrubs, most commonly found in white and a variety of pink shades, with large, glossy leaves that really make a statement. Consider dogwood trees for a romantic springtime touch, under-planted with early winter-blooming crocus. Hyacinths make a beautiful, early flowering border or equally eye-catching potted display. Lilac is found in both lilac and white flowering, shrubbing plants that make a nice backdrop for shorter plants that flower later in the season, such as anemones, bellflowers, wind flowers, impatiens and lobelia. For spring to summer color, Clematis comes in white, blues and purples. Grow this garden lovely as a vining shrub. Hypericum, with its star-shaped yellow flowers and low-growing mounding habit, blooms from spring throughout the summer and is useful as a border or on slightly sloping areas with modest tree shade, a true star among the choices. The large-leaved, tall Cimicifuga is a deciduous perennial with showy white flowers in blooming in mid to late summer. Shade flowering plants which may be grown as hanging, potted plants include the begonias, fuchsia, Swedish ivy and cyclamen, perfect for a shady porch or entry area. Happily, all of these are perennial. The Swedish ivy, brought in as a houseplant when the days become shorter, can extend its flowering period into mid-winter even after most of your tree leaves have fallen! The popular wishbone flower is a good container or hanging plant which attracts hummingbirds as an added bonus.

It’s easy to see that there’s no shortage of plants you can use under the shade of your trees! Create that oasis of tree shade you’ve been yearning for. Be sure to make space for that lounge chair. All you need do is then, enjoy!