To most gardeners, sun and shade conjure up images of separate gardens. But many gardens, including my own, have both sunny and shady areas. It can be a joy to have sun and shade, but when it comes to designing a cohesive landscape, it can also be a challenge.
In 1990, when I began work on my garden in Western Springs, Illinois (USDA Hardiness Zone 5, –20°F), I found that there were areas of deep shade, dappled shade, and soft, filtered shade. In the middle of the yard was a bright, sunny swath, punctuated by two 30-foot-tall spruce trees that cast long shadows—all this in a yard just 90 feet wide.
To unify all of these diverse areas, I employed a series of simple design techniques that draw both your eyes and feet through the garden, oblivious to sun or shade. By repeating shapes, colors, plants, materials, and focal points, the garden gained an overall sense of cohesiveness.