Observing the type(s) of shade in your garden will help you pick plants that will thrive in those conditions. In addition to the types of light listed below, you need to determine the level of moisture in the soil. Trees use moisture and nutrients from the soil, so you may need to add more compost, mulch and water under trees or select plants that thrive in dry shade. In areas of light or filtered shade, you may have success with plants labeled part sun. Your plants are likely to be smaller and bloom later in a shade garden.
Light shade An area completely shaded for two to four hours during the heat of the day (between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.).
Filtered shade Seems completely shaded all day, but sunlight shines through tree branches or an arbor.
Part shade Garden receives four to five hours of shade. Trees planted close together or a tall wall blocks the sun for a longer time creates this condition.
Full shade Areas under a group of trees or beneath a building overhang, are shaded all day, but receive some reflected light from nearby sunny areas.
Dense shade Day-long shade and no reflected light. This occurs under a very dense, low-branched tree or in a narrow space between two very tall buildings.