Eric would like for Thomas to talk about some tips our viewers might use to help them maximize their success as a shade gardener. First of all make sure you're buying a shade plant if you're doing shade gardening. Don't try to grow something that wants to be in the sun. Also be very aware of the lighting that you have, that's very important. Most shade plants want to have as much light as you can give them without direct hot afternoon sun. That's highly important. Then keep in mind that your sun does change throughout the growing season. So it might be a good idea to set up an empty container out in a spot where you want to plant a shade garden and watch your sun move before you actually plant it. It may surprise you that it may be in more sun than you think. But siting is very important, and choosing a plant that's right for the location is probably the number one thing that you need to do first. Irrigation is also important. Oftentimes when we look at a shade garden we assume everything is more moist than it actually is. Think about what's creating the shade. The shade often is being created by these big trees that are sucking up an incredible amount of water. So just because it looks lush and shady under that tree doesn't mean that there's going to be adequate moisture, especially for things like hostas and ferns that that need a lot of water. You also need to be very aware of the fact that as you water in that area the tree roots are going to come towards that moisture as well. So be observant and make sure that those shade plants are actually getting enough water. That's probably the most common problem people have with shade plants. Make sure that the soil is evenly moist.
Another thing to remember when shade gardening is you're trying to mimic a woodland environment. Anything you can do to make the soil really humus rich is good, so lots of compost will be helpful. Shade plants really love that sort of thing. So keep your soil loose and full of nutrients, and they'll thrive. Of course they need oxygen, that's where looser soils, adding in compost, doing wood mulch all the time keeps it really light.