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Home > Types of Gardening > Shade Gardening > Lack of light
Lack of light
Lack of lightThe best way to cope with low light levels is to choose plants that do well in less light. Plant lists later in this publication provide suggestions for plants tolerant toward various types of shade. The lists are not meant to be complete, but merely provide a starting point for choosing plants adapted to the conditions in your garden. Plants that tolerate low light levels often will grow more vigorously in brighter areas, provided they receive adequate moisture.

Light shade may be described as an area that is shaded but bright. It may be completely shaded for only several hours each day. The sun`s rays may be blocked by a wall or building for several hours at midday, but the area is sunny the rest of the day. Light shade may also be found in areas that receive filtered or dappled sunlight for longer periods. Edges of shady gardens or areas under the canopy of solitary, lightly branched trees are typical of filtered sunlight. During the heat of summer, light shade at midday will provide a beneficial cooling effect. Flower and foliage color may be more brilliant when plants are shielded from intense midday sunlight.

Partial or medium shade is present when direct sun rays are blocked from an area for most of the day. Many established landscapes have large areas of partial shade, where sections of the yard are shaded by mature trees for much of the day but receive some direct sun early or late in the day. Bright, north-facing exposures may also be classified as medium shade.

Full shade lasts all day. Little or no direct sunlight reaches the ground at any time of the day. There may be reflected light from sunnier areas of the yard or off light-colored walls. Dense shade refers to full shade under thick tree canopies or in dense groves of trees. Areas under stairways, decks or covered patios on the north side of the house receive full shade.

Keep in mind that light patterns change with the seasons. An area that is in full sun in summer when the sun is high in the sky may have medium shade in spring and fall, when the sun is at a lower angle. Study your garden through the seasons to accurately determine what type of shade is present.

Available sunlight may be increased by selective pruning. Removal of lower limbs on large trees may increase light levels significantly. Large shade trees are a valuable resource that in most cases should be preserved. However, removal of diseased, unattractive, or poorly placed trees improves the beauty of your property and increases the light available for plant growth.

Take advantage of reflected light, if possible. White or light-colored surfaces reflect more light than dark-colored ones. Light-colored house siding or fences may increase available light to plants.
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