When planning a shady garden, consider the size, shape and amount of sunlight coming into the area, then choose brightly colored plants that thrive in shade to fill in the space. Establish the proper soil and mulch content before planting. Bring in interesting non-plant elements to round out the overall look of the garden.
Begin by planning the size and shape of the garden. Draw a diagram and determine what time and how much sunlight is in the area. Label where plants and elements will go in the diagram before starting. Next, research the best plants for the type of sun the garden receives and select plants to match. Hostas, ferns, moss, hydrangeas and many other plants do well in shade.
When designing, plan to have shrubs and ground-covers, in addition to flowers, for a layered effect. Be sure to bring in different textures as well. Pick plants that will shine in the shade, such as forestgrass and gold-leaf.
Many plants flower well in the shade and add a pop of color, including heuchera, fuchsias, coleus and aster. It can be helpful to choose a color scheme in order to avoid overwhelming the garden. If you want the garden to have color year-round, remember that different plants flower in different seasons.
Before planting, be sure to see to the garden's soil and mulching needs. The DIY Network suggests using organically rich soil with a layer of leaf litter, then using pine needles and composted leaves as mulch. Using non-plant elements, such as stepping stones, a hidden bench, or interesting sculptures, will add to your garden. Other options include placing a mulch path or a bubbling water feature.