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November 26, 2011

Defining shade – What does shade mean?

- by Debra Anchors

Not all shade is the same. When you read plant tags you will see many terms for the different types. Before you garden in the shade, let’s break it down.

Light Shade – A light-shade area is completely shaded for only 2 to 4 of the hours between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Filtered shade – The spot may seem completely shaded all day but shafts of the sun squeeze through tree branches or an arbor, for example.  How much sun gets through depends on the type of structure casting the shade. Trees with lacy, thin canopies like honeylocusts provide less shade; trees with larger leaves or a denser canopy offer more.

Part shade – A part-shade garden receives 4 to 5 hours of shade. This may be where trees are planted close together so the sun moves farther before it gets around them, or where a tall wall or fence blocks the sun for a longer time.

Full shade – This lasts all day. It’s the dark shade you find under a group of trees with a multistory canopy or under a building overhang. It may occur between the east and west sides of two houses, on the north side of the house or where a wall is so tall the sun never peeks over it. Fully shaded areas are lit by a kind of ‘sky shine’ or reflected light.

Dense shade – No light reaches this area. You find dense shade under a low-branched tree, such as a Norway maple, in a grove of trees or under your deck.

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