Shady Backyard in Kiln Creek, Newport News

Materials: Gravel; Stone; Pond Equipment; Drainage Parts; Pavers; Concrete; Soil; Compost; Plants; Seed; and Mulch.

Too Much Shade!

If you have a shady yard, you know the battle and the challenge. All of your friends can grow beautiful perennials and flowers of all kinds, have lush shrubs, and (of course) maintain a thick lawn…but over in the typical shade yard: NOTHING.  Okay, maybe some moss and a couple weeds.

Well, that’s exactly where this yard was when we first arrived. Year after year, the grass would thin out and ultimately die. A typical selection of shrubs would also weaken and also pass to the darkside. 15 years ago, there was plenty of sun to grow just about anything here. However, as the trees grew and matured, they created lots of shade- almost completely blocking the sun.
We needed to come up with a plan to make the space usable. Our clients wanted a garden they could enjoy- a spot to sit, relax, read a book, or enjoy a glass of wine in the evening.

From a Lawn to a Garden

We had our work cut out for us to convert this space from lawn to garden. First, we had to get the old irrigation zones out of the way. We then needed to adjust the system from spray heads to point source drip to make sure our new plants had just the right amount of water. While we moved the irrigation, we also needed to make adjustments to the existing drainage system to make a space for the new concrete pathway. We had to move the main drain pipe and install a new main with a surface water catch basin, and then reconnect all the downspouts.

Putting in New Pathways

Once the irrigation and drainage work was complete, we started on laying out the new paths. The space needed texture and interest, so we utilized two separate pathway materials. One path would be constructed out of concrete. It would be stamped, carved, and colored, and wrap around the home from the back deck to the garage door. Our second path would go in the opposite direction, leading from the stamped concrete area around the home to the front yard. For the second path, we used large 18″x18″ Eagle Bay Chatham XL pavers. We also added a paver path leading straight back off the deck to our small seating area.

Let’s Round out the Ambience

As we were building the textures and character of the space, we wanted to round out the ambiance of the seating area with a small water feature. We used a large weather boulder with a 1″ hole core drilled through. We then installed an AquaBasin with a Aquascape Ultra pump plumbed through the boulder. We finished off the look with small dry creek bed winding away from our peaceful bubbling boulder.

Ferns, Flowers, and Trees—Oh My!

Our shade garden included quite a variety of plants to completely fill in the area. We used White Delaware Valley Azaleas, Red Ruffle Azaleas, Pachysandra, Ostrich Ferns, Red Regal Fern, Japanese Aralia, Coral Bells, Gold Dust Aucuba, Pine Knot Helleborus, Fanal Astilbe, Aspidistra Iron Plant, Carissa Hollies, and finally (in the little bit of sun we had back here) a Rising Sun Redbud tree.
The base soil was tilled and amended with McGill’s Soil Builder before we planted, to make sure our plants had extra nutrients and a rich base. For a finished and complete feel, we used a dyed brown shredded hardwood mulch along the front of the space and pine straw (pine fines) along the back to blend into the woods.

The shade garden and landscape is now complete.

We did our final cleanup and wash-down, wrapping this project up just under $18,000.