When I started the yard had very little shade. It was great for most flowers, yet I wanted a shady area to grow some shade plants, hostas and ferns, perhaps some bleeding hearts. With only the west of the garage providing diminishing shade until noon, I decided to build a structure that would extend the shade to a larger area for a longer period.

The plan for the shade structure took some time – I wanted it free standing with a lattice top for dappeled light – also I wanted it substantial enough to support vining plants.
These pictures date to 2003. Have a laugh at the old fashions!

So here is what I started with – the perimeter  and picket fences are in but the back area is pretty barren. Those barrels are a tumbling compost system I made and used for a few years.

 A blank canvas.
This area gets some shade.
Some markings to mark  the layout.
The soil back there for the most part is hard clay,  no way was I doing 4′ holes by hand with a clamshell post hole digger. So I enlisted a pal and a rented auger – smart move!
Try to control your excitement really. Did I say this was 2003?
Those 4 holes took some time, and were kinda a pain to put in. Then it was off the rental store to bring back the tool and off to the lumber (lumbar? – after this it sure felt like a lumbar yard!) for the materials.
Hauling 12′ 6×6’s by myself and acting like a crazed pole vaulter I managed to get them in the ground. – 100# of pea gravel in each followed by 100# of quick set cement dumped in each hole and  watered.
Poles all set and awaiting the next step.
I did not put the uprights at the corners, rather in an 8×12′ rectangle. Plan was to have 4′ overhang on long sides, flush mount on the  short.
And so my crew descended and we made rather short work of it (1 day) – once the front and back were secured with lag bolts, and the sides put in, the joists were run using joist brackets and screwed in from the ends – probably overbuilt. Ok completely overbuilt. You could park a car up there.
Construction shots










Feeling pretty good about this point. I think I’m ordering a pizza. Now there’s the small matter of plants and mulch.

Over the years the shade area has done well. Here are some pictures. The ferns in particular are awesome.

From 2007, The hostas are still bigger than the ferns, but not for long!









More recently…









With some effort up front, you too can create a shade area when none existed, and enjoy a wider variety of garden plants.

Until next time, Keep Digging & Eat Well!

The Gastronomic Gardener