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Landscape solutions for shady areas around your home

Our Latest Shady Landscape Solution for a Muddy Nook


Installed shade plants in the corner of this home owner's stairs

Problem: This shady nook where the hose bib lives was a mud pit and constantly filled with leaves. Plus, it only receives an hour of sunlight in the early morning. The owner tried planting woodland sedges and annual flowers, but they’d rip the plants apart every time they pulled their hose out. They wanted a low-maintenance attractive solution.

Solution: MowCow came to the rescue with a river rock installation for mud-free walking. We suggested a hose reel installation to reduce damage to plants. Additionally, we added Christmas ferns and hostas for height and variety. These plants thrive in the shade and can withstand leaf damage. To contrast the plants, we included yellow creeping Jenny—a ground cover that can spread—but here, it is limited by the surrounding asphalt.

The result: The nook is now low-maintenance and functional thanks to reliable, thriving perennial plants. They show up year after year, uptaking the excess water. Bonus: a small violet has popped up in the corner. This space requires little upkeep and is perfect for relaxing in nature.

Check out this year’s spring bloom in the nook – almost no maintenance is required! They will trim away remnants of last year’s ferns and keep the pot watered, leaving the space to do its own thing.


Check out this year's spring bloom in the nook - no maintenance required! We trimmed the ferns and kept the pot watered, leaving the space to do its own thing.


Landscape solutions for shady areas around your home

Planting vibrant flora can be the perfect solution when creating an inviting, warm atmosphere in your backyard or garden. However, depending on how shady certain parts of the yard are or your area’s climate and soil conditions, you may need to know what plants to choose. You run the risk of quickly dying plants, or worse: invasive plants that take over your garden, killing off the rest of your precious shrubbery. Check out our tips to help make any shaded corner of the yard bloom with color!

Native shade plants that thrive in Burke, Virginia


When it comes to native shade plants that will thrive in our area, there are plenty of options. I’m your happy and knowledgeable neighborVirginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica). Photo: Chris Evans, University of Illinois, if you seek expert advice on what to plant. One excellent option is the wild ginger, a low-growing plant that will add a bit of folksy charm to your garden with its heart-shaped leaves and reddish-brown flowers. Another native plant that will thrive in the shade is the Virginia bluebell, which blooms in the spring with various blue and purple hues.

Lastly, let us tell you about the Northern Maidenhair Fern. This native beauty can add a touch of practical elegance to any shaded garden. With its striking black stalks and fan-shaped fronds, this fern will not go unnoticed. And the best part? It thrives in limited sunlight! Growing it is not only a practical option but also an easy one. With the right ideas, you can make this fern a charming addition to your backyard paradise. So, if you’re looking for a striking ornamental plant native to Fairfax and easy to grow, the Northern Maidenhair Fern is the way to go.


What happens if you install non-native invasive plants?

As a lawn and landscape company that provides sustainable and eco-friendly solutions, we strongly advise against installing invasive plants in our area (Burke, Fairfax). Invasive plants are not native to the area and have a detrimental environmental effect. They grow aggressively and outcompete native vegetation, disrupting the natural ecosystem and causing harm to local wildlife. In addition, invasive plants are challenging to control and require extensive management efforts that often involve harmful chemicals.

The Japanese honeysuckle is an example of an invasive plant species you should not install in our area. This fast-growing vine can quickly spread and smother nearby plants and trees, inhibiting their growth. Japanese honeysuckle also attracts non-native insects that can contribute to the decline of native pollinators. Moreover, Japanese honeysuckle is known to harbor and spread plant diseases that can damage the health of surrounding vegetation. Watch Dr. Cindy Smith explain the issues Japanese honeysuckle can bring to your property.

Another invasive plant to avoid in Burke is the multiflora rose. This thorny shrub forms dense thickets and crowds out native plants, reducing biodiversity. The sharp thorns can also deter wildlife that would otherwise use the area as a habitat. Multiflora rose is difficult to remove once established and can spread quickly through root sprouts, creating a persistent problem for years. 

Finally, we urge homeowners to refrain from installing the invasive Oriental bittersweet. While we often use this attractive vine in floral arrangements for its vibrant orange berries, it can quickly become a nuisance in the landscape. Oriental bittersweet can grow up to 60 feet long and strangle surrounding plants and trees. Furthermore, birds that consume the berries can spread this invasive plant to new areas, exacerbating the problem. Watch this video on how weeds spread to your landscape garden beds. The extensive root system of Oriental bittersweet can also damage underground utilities, threatening the safety of your property. 

Installing invasive plants in Burke, Virginia can significantly negatively impact the environment. We recommend selecting native plants adapted to the local conditions and supporting the local ecosystem. Not only will this benefit local wildlife, but it will also create a beautiful and sustainable landscape you can enjoy with friends and family.


The benefits of using native shade plants for your landscape

We cannot stress enough the benefits of using native shade plants in your outdoor areas. These plants are not only beautiful, but they are incredibly functional. By using native shade plants, you can reduce maintenance and water costs while still enjoying a beautiful and natural-looking landscape. Plus, these plants are adapted to the local climate and soil, which means they will thrive with little effort on your part. And let’s not forget about their environmental impact – native shade plants help to support local wildlife and promote biodiversity. So go ahead and add a touch of the outdoors to your yard with these happy, neighborly, and knowledgeable natives.


Decorative rocks for adding color and texture to your shady areas

If you have a shady spot in your garden or yard that needs a little pick-me-up, look no further than decorative rocks. These gems are the perfect solution for adding color and texture to your dull and drab space. Don’t let a lack of sunlight discourage you from creating a beautiful outdoor area. With the right combination of decorative rocks, you can create a stunning landscape that will make all of your neighbors green with envy. We highly recommend trying decorative rocks. With their long-lasting durability and eye-catching appeal, you won’t be disappointed. So why wait? Start sprucing up your shady areas today, and watch your garden come to life!


Tips on choosing the perfect shade plants for your yard

First and foremost, consider the amount of shade your yard receives. Look for plants that thrive in partial to full shade, such as hostas, ferns, and impatiens. Next, consider the color and texture of the plants. Do you want to add pops of bright color or prefer a more subdued palette? Do you like plants with broad leaves or delicate fronds? Choosing plants that complement your landscape and personal style is essential. Lastly, remember the size and shape of the plants you plan to install. Make sure to select varieties that fit the scale of your yard and won’t become overgrown or crowded. These tips allow you to choose the perfect shade plants for a beautiful, thriving yard.


How to arrange and combine various shades of plants to create a cohesive look

Think about it like putting together a puzzle; each plant is a piece of the bigger picture. Combining different shades and textures of foliage is key to creating a visually exciting design. You’ll foster a dynamic, eye-catching garden by picking plants with contrasting leaf colors, sizes, and shapes. So, go ahead and play a bit, mix and match, and create a garden that will make all your neighbors jealous! Trust me; everyone will be asking for your gardening secrets.

Drainage project with landscaping plant installation and natural rocks


Be aware of how sunlight interacts with your property throughout the growing season

As you start planting, it’s important to understand the amount of sunlight each location receives over the growing season. This will help you determine which plants will thrive in each spot. Don’t forget that the sun’s position can change throughout the day and that tall objects like trees or buildings can cast shadows at certain times.

If you have a south-facing location you’re bringing to life; the direct sunlight can make it hotter and drier, while a north-facing spot near a building receives less direct sunlight, creating a cozy and shady atmosphere. Incorporating the right amount of sunlight into your planting decisions is essential for ensuring your garden thrives throughout the season.

Whether you choose native shade plants, decorative rocks, or a combination of both, you can transform dark and barren spaces into fun and lively environments. So, get excited and start planning – the possibilities for creating a stunning outdoor space are endless!

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