Glorious Shade

There is nothing better than shade during a hot Texas summer. Keep existing trees and plant a few more for the future.


Cool Shade

In South Texas, shade is a hot commodity in summer. It can be 10 degrees cooler. So if you want shade, keep all your existing shade trees and plant some for the future.

If you have a fully shady lot, your plant palette is very different from a sunny yard. It will be greener and with fewer blooms. Create interest with textures, shades of green and variegated foliage, leaf size and shape. A tropical dry shade garden might be for you. And if it never gets more than four or five hours of sun a day, put the turfgrass away.

Shady Elements



Look for plants that thrive in the shade. Turfgrass is not one of them. Many shade plants have large leaves in various shades and shapes. Use this variety of leaf shapes to your advantage. For pops for color, invest in a couple of large colorful pots and plant with the few shade-blooming annuals that are available like begonias.



You will need to water new plants to help them get established. The best way to water new plants is with a handheld hose. Use the 3-2-1- method. With good plant selection and all that shade, most established dry shade beds will survive on only rain.



Best choice: Leaves from your trees raked and spread into your beds. This is also the easiest and cheapest choice.

Next choice: Organic mulch, usually shredded pine bark mulch. Stay away from cypress mulch. It’s made from cypress cut in the Everglades.

Last choice: Inorganic mulch is generally not encouraged, but in very deep shade and away from the street, it can be a good option for a walkway or service area. You will have less weed growth because it is so dark.



Explore the tropical dry shade world of plants. You may need to spend some extra time designing your garden compared to those with sunny gardens, but the results will be worth it. You’ll have a comfortable garden with lots of interest.


  • Little maintenance is needed if you planted right. Move the leaves from the trees that made the shade into the beds.
  • Some dry tropical plants will “melt” in a freeze. Cut off the damaged leaves before March.


Take care of your trees. These are the most expensive and hardest to replace elements of your landscape. Look for information on selection, pruning and other topics throughout

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Shrubs in a sunny garden bed.Shady patio with hammock and table area.