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Shade Garden Makeover

I’ve been so eager to share another garden makeover, but wanted to wait on this one until it was just right. Best part, this Shade Garden Makeover comes with a Fire Pit area.  Just a little background on our fixer upper yard. We moved into our current fixer upper home in August of 2016. So this is just our second full summer fixing up different areas of the yard. 

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Below is what this area looked like when we moved in. Definitely not as hideous as some of the other areas in the yard, so it was bumped down a little on the priority list. We did like the fire pit area, but I just had a different vision for it. I can see this area from my kitchen window and I didn’t really like what I saw and dreamed of what it could be.

Shade Garden Makeover Before

This post was:Featured on Hometalk.com

A few weeks after we moved in, I did start the process of killing off the grass and weeds by laying down cardboard and layering it with grass and leaf clippings.  Also later in the summer and fall, I plopped in some hostas that I had rescued from full sun areas in the yard. The following spring, more hostas were added.

I then moved on to other projects and ignored this area all last summer. I can’t believe I’m showing the next pictures, but I’m keeping it real and this is one of those projects that went from looking okay to looking pretty bad before it got better.

Shade Garden Makeover - Before

Another angle of the ugliness. I feel sorry for all those neglected hostas.

Shade Garden Makeover - Before

Supplies – Shade Garden Makeover

  • Shovel (I really love this shovel, and even though I have the pink one, I’ve caught my man using it too. Guys, it does come in other more masculine colors. It’s lightweight, but very sturdy and sharp.)
  • Gloves (These are my favorite for heavy duty jobs.)
  • Landscape Fabric
  • Pea Gravel
  • Field Stones (Free from construction sites)
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Plants

When I have a vision for something, it just nags at me until I get it done. So this spring, I knew it was going to be a priority project. Here are the basic steps we followed.

Steps – Shade Garden Makeover

  • First of all we did lots of clean up in this area, like trimming the lilac bushes and moving the wood piles. And an overall, good weeding of the entire area.
  • Next, we used our handy little tiller (very similar to this one) to break up the very compacted soil around the top of the fire pit area.
  • Then we removed a couple of inches of soil to level the area out.
  • We then added landscape fabric as a weed barrier, just to the area where the pea gravel would go. I do not recommend adding landscape fabric to any area where you will be planting.
  • Next came a border of field stones to separate the mulched, planted area from the seating area.
  • Then we added a good layer of pea gravel to the walking path area and a good layer of mulch to the plant area.

Shade Garden Makeover – After

Drum roll… here is the finished Shade Garden Makeover. I really couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. It’s a peaceful, serene area, where we can take a break in the shade from our garden chores. Plus, we’re looking forward to many bonfires with family and friends here.

Shade Garden Makeover - After

For more gardening goodness, I invite you to join us here at Gingham Gardens:

Here is another angle.

Shade Garden Makeover with Fire Pit - After

We love these adirondack chairs. Solid and easy to assemble, and they fold for easy storage.

After all that work, we’re ready to take a little break with a mug of ice tea.

Shade Garden Makeover Seating Area

Here’s a close up of the tipped over clay pot with impatiens spilling out. I love putting together stuff like this.

If you’d like some simple instructions for creating your own tipsy planter, check out this article I wrote for Hometalk

Tipped over pot with Impatiens spilling out.

In case you haven’t already seen them, here are some of the other garden makeovers – Flower Garden Makeover – Before and After,  Tiered Garden Makeover, Another Garden Makeover and Small Shade Garden Transformation.  

If you need a full tutorial on redoing or making over one of your flower gardens, How to Makeover a Flower Garden, is the post for you.

Thanks a bunch for stopping by Gingham Gardens today. I hope you enjoyed the reveal of our Shade Garden Makeover. Do you have a garden area you want to makeover? If you have any questions or comments, you can use the contact form or you can leave a comment at the bottom of the post.

Happy gardening,


p.s. Follow Gingham Gardens on Pinterest for lots of great gardening ideas and tons of gardener’s eye candy.

p.p.s. You can pin these pictures by hovering in the upper left-hand corner. Pin away (except the ugly ones)! There are a few collage pins at the bottom of the page. Thanks a bunch!

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Image of a Shade Garden with text overlay - Shade Garden Makeover


Image of a Shade Garden with text overlay - Shade Garden Makeover


  1. I’m enjoying your site.
    I too like hosta plants & have many varieties. For some reason I am unable to keep yellow/gold varities alive more than a couple seasons at the most. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Barbara – thanks for stopping by Gingham Gardens. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! Honestly, I’m not sure what to tell you about your hosta. I have several of the brighter colored hostas and they come back every year. I know the yellow varieties do okay with some sun, but mine are all in the shade. I’m sorry I don’t have an answer for you. Good luck and happy gardening, Joanna

  2. Beautiful! I need to buy you a plane ticket to come up and give me some pointers! (ha!) Congratulations on your article for Home Talk!

  3. Certainly got my wheels turning. Your creativity and talent have successfully instilled great vision for me to start planning a fabulous area in an ugly area in my yard. Thank you so much for sharing this!


    1. Hi Karen, thanks so much for stopping by. I’m so happy you were inspired by my shade garden makeover. Have fun with your project! Happy gardening.

  4. What a transformation. Shade can be so tricky with plants. My garden is always in full sun so that can be a challenge as well. – Margy

    1. Hi Margy, thanks so much for stopping by. I always say, gardening isn’t for wimps. There’s always a challenge, but I love it.

  5. You’ve achieved quite a transformation and definitely deserve a rest in your new seating area. Hostas for a shade garden are a match made in heaven. Mine don’t fare too well — they’re the favorite dinner for the local deer. Thanks for sharing a vision of what mine could become.

  6. First of all, thank you for coming over to my blog and leaving a lovely comment. This post of yours is particularly relevant to me as my back yard is largely shade, as is my up-north yard. Good tips here! And the makeover is wonderful!

  7. Joanna, that looks amazing! You did have a vision and I love the way it included using something that was there already. Your hostas will get bigger and bigger over time. Hostas are a favorite of mine. I know you must really enjoy that area!

    Thank you for sharing this at the garden party. 🙂

  8. You really did a wonderful job of transforming this area. I love all the hostas you have and the fact that you rescued most of them from the front yard. The way you manicured the area around the fire pit with the gravel added a whole new dimension to it! I don’t have many pictures of our back yard from when we moved here but lets just say the people before us did nothing more than mow the lawn. You have a good sense of design and are a talented gardener! So glad you joined the Garden Party! Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Hi Liz! I’m sorry you don’t have before pictures of your yard. It would be fun to see how far you’ve come. Anyway your gardens are amazing now and much more beautiful than a mere lawn. Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening.

  9. You really nailed this girl! What a beautiful site to see out your kitchen window now. I bet you love it! We have a fie pit and it’s a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing with the Garden Party.

    1. Yep, I do love it! Every time, I pass by a back window, I have to stop and look. Thanks a bunch for stopping by!

  10. You did a beautiful job reviving that part of your yard and creating such a peaceful place for the 2 of you to relax.

  11. What a lovely makeover! So helpful to see ideas for the shade; our lot is all very shady due to lots of trees. The white chairs and eye-catching lanterns brighten the area, too. The variety of greens add interest and the mix of bark, gravel and brick are interesting, too. Thanks for the great inspiration.

    1. Looks great and I admire all the thought you put into it. I have a lot of shade and part shade and really find shade gardening much easier. Can I suggest you add some Hellebores, Huecheras and Ferns to give some added underestImate a bird bath for a focal point?. I can’t wait to try an area for a fire pit and the gravel looks wonderful. Such a nice place to relax after all your hard work.

      1. Thanks for the suggestions, Kathy. I have added those plants to the area, and I’ll be sharing some updates soon. Happy gardening!

  12. Oh my gosh, it looks AMAZING! Love the fire pit area. So happy you showed the before, during and after pictures. I had a beautiful garden until I went to work full time for six years and then it fell into ruin. I’ve spent the past 3 years renovating them and I’m about half way done. It’s a long process and it takes so much time. It’s not like on t.v. when they do a garden makeover in a weekend.

    1. Thanks, Amy. I’m at the stage in life, empty nest, when I can devote more time to my hobbies. Garden overhauls definitely take time. Be sure to take pictures along the way because it’s so gratifying to see what you’ve accomplished. Happy gardening!

  13. What a great makeover!! Looks charming and i love those pillows on those chairs!! Pretty!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!

  14. Joanna,

    Your garden is beautiful! I love your website. Your gardening inspires me so much and I wish I had the knowledge that you do about plants and gardening in general. You are the bomb!

    1. Ahh, thanks Heidi. Just keep at it. I learned lots from doing and I read lots of gardening articles too. Most of all keep it fun and simple. Good luck to you and happy gardening!

  15. Wow, Joanna! Girl, you, your vision and creativity, and energy just amaze me! What a beautiful relaxing area.
    Blessings, Sistah!!

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