My front yard in northeast Georgia was located at the end of a cul d’sac and surrounded by very tall pine trees. It was a small yard with the majority of the property in back of the house.

The developer of the neighborhood believed in leaving as many original trees as possible. In the middle of the yard, there was a cluster of oak trees that left a wonderful dappled shade on the house and yard in the spring and summer. The fall foliage made the view out of the windows spectacular.

Unfortunately, this cluster of trees and the western exposure left large areas bare, and the turf did not grow. I did not want to cut down the trees because I liked the wooded look and the low maintenance of the turf. I came up with an idea to develop and highlight these shaded areas and made them into pine islands.

We had found a source of wood chips to mix with the red Georgia clay in the yard. It was delivered and left in a convenient pile for me to work with. I defined the outlines of the islands with a shovel and mixed in several inches of wood chips.

The end result was much less turf to maintain, a bed in front of the house for bulbs, annuals, etc., and a larger area in the center of the yard that left a natural look because it followed the graceful lines made by Mother Nature.

Judy Tate, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Shade Gardening