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What are some popular small shade garden designs?

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Popular shade garden designs include small gardens planted along a pathway, around a large tree, or in varying heights against a foundation to add visual interest. You can design a small shade garden along a pathway by using terra cotta tiles as a walkway. Line the path with masses of shade-loving and low-growing plants such as coleus or hosta.

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The tone of the terra cotta blends well with the colorful leaves of coleus and draws the eye forward. It also provides a secondary burst of color that adds visual appeal.

You can also plant a small shade garden in a circular design around the base of a tree. Integrate shade-loving plants with ground cover for interest and texture. Design a garden in a small spot to break up a larger lawn by planting a variety of tall and short shade-loving plants in a mass of mixed foliage, textures and colors. Use plants such as a big-leaf umbrella as a backdrop for smaller plants such as coral bells. You can also use this plan against the foundation of a house to break up its hard, straight lines.

Another popular shade garden plan is to use flowering shrubs such as azaleas and rhododendrons for height and as a background for smaller, low-lying plants. You can choose flowering plants in different colors or create a single mass of color for dramatic impact.

Sites such as BHG.com, or Better Homes and Gardens, feature a variety of shade garden plans that include a beginner garden, a foundation garden planted along a wall, a soft-color shade garden and a cold-climate shade garden. Each plan features an illustration with specific plants. You can download and print each plan and take it with you to a local nursery that can help you to plan your garden.

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