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Damp & Shaded Areas

Typically, plants require a good balance of sunlight and water to flourish. However, what if you find yourself dealing with an abundance of wet soil but a shortage of sunlight? The good news is that there is a diverse selection of shade plants that thrive in such moist conditions.

Wet Soils

There are various reasons why soil can become wet- it could be compacted, or because of a high water table. To assess your soil’s water drainage and texture:

  • Dig a pit with straight sides to a depth of approximately 60cm (2ft)
  • Cover the pit overnight to prevent rainwater from entering
  • If water accumulates in the pit, it indicates a high water table
  • If no water collects, fill the pit with water and cover again for 24 hours
  • If water remains in the pit after 24 hours, it indicates poor drainage.

Observe the sides of the pit to understand the root penetration depth. Most plant roots are concentrated within the top 50cm of the soil surface, if roots do not extend deeply into the soil or encounter a hard layer, deep digging is necessary to improve soil drainage

If there is a thick layer of clay or rock beneath the topsoil, deep digging will not solve the drainage issue, and raised beds might be the best solution.

Planting & Caring for your Damp-Shade Plants

  • Soil (Poor Drainage)– Improve the soils drainage and structure by incorporating organic matter, like compost or manure 
  • Soil (High Water Table)– If you have a high water table you can embrace the soil condition and create a bog garden, or implement drainage solutions to manage the excess water
  • Watering– While the area may be damp, plants may still need supplemental watering, especially during dry spells. Monitor soil moisture regularly and water as needed to keep plants healthy.
  • Regular Maintenance– Remove any dead or yellowing foliage & prune as necessary
  • Watch for Pests & Diseases- Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of pests or diseases


Embrace Native Plants

Native plants are often well-adapted to the local climate and can be excellent choices for damp shade areas.