Shade Garden with Ferns and Hostas

Shade Garden with Ferns and Hostas

Shade Garden with Ferns and Hostas: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a beautiful shade garden with ferns and hostas can be a rewarding and enjoyable project. Not only will it add a touch of elegance to your outdoor space, but it will also provide a cool and tranquil retreat during the hot summer months. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of designing and creating your own shade garden, complete with step-by-step instructions, a list of required materials, and inspiring images to help you visualize the end result.

Step 1: Planning and Design

Before you start digging and planting, it’s important to have a clear plan in mind for your shade garden. Take some time to assess the area where you want to create your garden and consider the following factors:

  • Amount of shade: Determine how much shade the area receives throughout the day. This will help you choose the right plants that thrive in shade.
  • Soil type: Check the soil type in your garden. Ferns and hostas prefer moist, well-draining soil.
  • Space availability: Measure the available space and consider the size and growth habits of the plants you want to include in your garden.

Once you have a clear understanding of these factors, you can start designing your shade garden. Sketch out a rough plan, keeping in mind the height, texture, and color of the plants you want to incorporate. Aim for a balanced and harmonious arrangement that will create a visually appealing space.

Step 2: Gathering Materials

Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to gather the necessary materials for your shade garden project. Here’s a list of items you will need:

  • Garden gloves
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Compost or organic matter
  • Ferns (varieties such as Lady Fern, Japanese Painted Fern, or Ostrich Fern)
  • Hostas (varieties such as Blue Angel, Frances Williams, or Sum and Substance)
  • Mulch
  • Garden hose or watering can

Make sure to choose healthy and well-established ferns and hostas from a reputable nursery or garden center. This will ensure that your plants have a strong start and will thrive in your shade garden.

Step 3: Preparing the Soil

Before planting your ferns and hostas, it’s important to prepare the soil to provide the best growing conditions for your plants. Follow these steps:

  1. Remove any existing weeds or grass from the area where you plan to create your shade garden.
  2. Use a shovel to loosen the soil and remove any rocks or debris.
  3. Add compost or organic matter to improve the soil’s fertility and drainage. Mix it thoroughly with the existing soil.

By preparing the soil properly, you will create a healthy and nutrient-rich environment for your ferns and hostas to thrive.

Step 4: Planting the Ferns and Hostas

Now it’s time to bring your shade garden to life by planting the ferns and hostas. Follow these steps:

  1. Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball of your fern or hosta.
  2. Place the plant in the hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil.
  3. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the plant.
  4. Repeat this process for each fern and hosta, spacing them according to your design plan.

Water the newly planted ferns and hostas thoroughly to help them establish their roots. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, throughout the growing season.

Step 5: Mulching and Maintenance

After planting your ferns and hostas, it’s important to mulch the area to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and provide insulation for the roots. Follow these steps:

  1. Spread a layer of mulch around the base of each plant, taking care not to cover the crown.
  2. Leave a small gap between the mulch and the stem of the plant to prevent rot.
  3. Water the mulch thoroughly to help it settle and provide a protective layer for the soil.

Throughout the growing season, make sure to monitor the moisture levels in your shade garden and water as needed. Remove any weeds that may appear, being careful not to disturb the roots of your ferns and hostas.

Step 6: Enjoying Your Shade Garden

With proper care and maintenance, your shade garden with ferns and hostas will flourish and provide a serene and beautiful retreat in your outdoor space. Take the time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

As your ferns and hostas grow, they will create a lush and vibrant display of foliage, adding texture and color to your shade garden. The contrasting shapes and sizes of the plants will create visual interest, while the cool and calming atmosphere will provide a welcome respite from the heat.

Remember to periodically trim any dead or damaged fronds from your ferns and divide your hostas as needed to maintain their health and vigor. With proper care, your shade garden will continue to thrive and bring you joy for years to come.


Creating a shade garden with ferns and hostas is a wonderful DIY project that allows you to transform a shady area into a tranquil oasis. By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this guide, you can confidently design, plant, and maintain your own shade garden. Remember to plan carefully, gather the necessary materials, prepare the soil, plant your ferns and hostas, mulch the area, and provide ongoing maintenance. With time and patience, you will be rewarded with a stunning shade garden that will be the envy of your neighbors. So roll up your sleeves, put on your gardening gloves, and let’s get started on this exciting and fulfilling project!