Shade, Semi-Shade and Sun

If you look out at your landscape, you’ll probably see all degrees of sun and shade.  There are lots of names of these levels of light, but shade, semi-shade and sun are good descriptors for most plants.


One of the most pertinent reasons for focusing on shade levels is that it really helps locate plants in the landscape where they have the capacity to thrive.  As the amount of shade is evaluated, it’s also important to identify where the shade comes from.

– is it from a nearby building or house?  If so, it’s likely to be a sharp contrast between full sun and full shade


-is it from a tree? If so, a “dappled” shade pattern will appear, allowing shade adapted grasses such as tall fescue and various shade loving perennials to grow well underneath.


-is it from a building and a tree?  If so, choosing plants may be more difficult and placements need to be more precise.


It’s also important to know where shade begins and ends, or where the sun reaches and where it doesn’t, and perhaps more specifically, the number of hours of each type that are received each day.

Dappled and full sun

Dappled and Full Sun

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
John Fech on EmailJohn Fech on Twitter

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.