Full winter sun but deep summer shade?!

by Christina K
(Independence, Missouri, US)

I've spent the last three years studying about my garden zone (6a), native species of plants, and about what not to plant and where. I would love to add a bit more beauty to my property... But my front yard has me losing my mind as far as what I'd like to plant but I just don't know what will actually survive/thrive. I'll try to explain my yard layout for you.

My front yard faces south. My house is about 30 ft from the road and my yard is approximately 35-40 ft wide and 25ft long. 20 feet from my house are two healthy, 80-90ft pin oak trees and about 8ft from the south east corner of my house is a pink flowering dogwood tree that stands about 10 ft tall. So as you can imagine, my house and yard are completely engulfed in deep shade in spring and summer, except for maybe 2 hours in the morning when the sunlight barely goes over the roof of my house, the dogwood, and through the long, stretching branches of one of the oaks, which blocks the south east and south sun. Then, and only then, this little 3'x3' area in my yard gets that small beam of sunshine, then it's gone the rest of the day because the OTHER oak blocks the south west and west sun. Then in the late fall, all winter long, and part of early spring when the trees are either bare or mostly bare-- my yard is full sun from about 9am-3:30pm!! Don't get me wrong, I very much appreciate the oaks' shade in the summer because it helps keep my house cooler... But I want more than just 3 trees and grass in my yard because I struggle to find suitable plants for the weird lighting and zone that I live in. Oh, I also forgot to mention that we have clay soil.

And finally, MY QUESTION: how can I add more color and flowers in my yard when the only full sun we get is in the freezing months of the year and have only deep shade to work with in the warm/hot months? It's been driving me nuts that I can't come up with a solution! Sorry for such a long letter, but I wanted to be as clear as possible. Thank you for your time!

Comments for Full winter sun but deep summer shade?!

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Dec 01, 2017
by: Jacki

Due to the fact that oaks are one of the most beautiful trees, I would live with the situation. Plant native ephemeral plants, bulbs, and ferns that will thrive in the weak spring sunshine, but go dormant in the summer. Oaks are also thirsty, so planting competing flowering plants under them isn't going to be very successful, regardless of the amount of sunlight that gets through.

I would love to add some pictures of your garden to get a better idea of what you are dealing with. Use the contact form to get a hold of me (the link is in the footer of every page).

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