To design a perennial shade garden, draw a blueprint for each garden plot on the property, mix humus and sand into the soil, and plant the perennials in the desired location. After planting, place a layer of mulch around the base of the plants.
The first step in designing a shade garden is to create a garden plan that includes each garden plot, the types of plants desired for the plots and the location of walkways and other features, such as water fountains. After mapping the garden plots and plants, work humus and builder's sand into the soil, or place a 3-inch layer of humus around tree roots to provide nutrients for the garden and improve drainage. If necessary, install an irrigation system.
Check the amount of sun each plot in the garden receives at various times during the day to determine where to plant specific perennials. For instance, hostas grow well in dense shade, whereas some flowers grow best in partial shade. Plant shrubs and larger plants first, followed smaller perennials and flower bulbs. Allow each plant plenty of space to grow, and apply mulch around the base of each plant to reduce the amount of time needed for maintenance. Plant perennial gardens during spring or autumn to ensure adequate rainfall.