I live in a building with a very small patch of property out back I am allowed to do stuff with (Townhome with strict HOA kind of thing). I managed to fit a 4x4 raised garden bed very nicely (though it isn't a mobile one). it is on the soil, with about six or seven inches (16cm) of depth. There is landscape fabric between the soil and earth below it, but due to the size of the building, and the placement of the sun... the garden receives zero direct sunlight. The building is in the way, and there is some tree-cover (that I can do nothing about).

Is there anything I can do in this situation or should I just give up and enjoy my patch of nice soil? Instead focus on indoor gardening with grow lights?

What can I grow in pretty much constant full shade?

Hardiness zone 9b

  • Is the raised bed sitting on soil and open at the bottom? If its not and is raised up on legs, how deep is the bed from top to bottom (not including legs!)
    – Bamboo
    Dec 27, 2019 at 14:30
  • it is on the soil, with about six or seven inches (16cm) of depth. There is landscape fabric between the soil and earth below it.
    – Rapitor
    Dec 27, 2019 at 14:34
  • 1
    Remove the landscape cloth. That give you a depth of the world. The landscape cloth will just slowly start to disintegrate if it is buried under soil. They always end up being a problem in the end. If you use them only add a small layer of mulch on top, don't bury them under soil. I would suggest not using it at all. This will give you much more depth to work with.
    – GardenGems
    Dec 27, 2019 at 18:44
  • 1
    Definitely remove the landscape cloth. This product only exists to allow landscapers to charge their clients an extra $1,000 - $2,000 per job. If used under rock mulch, the fabric will stop weeds for only 2-4 years, after which it becomes a germination area for weed seeds and is nearly impossible to remove/replace.
    – Jurp
    Dec 27, 2019 at 18:57
  • 1
    To clarify for international contributors... I’d guess that US Hardiness Zone 9b is a subtropical or tropical climate, with warm to hot humid summers and cold winters to freezing temperatures? Dec 28, 2019 at 10:03

2 Answers 2


First, I'm assuming that you're in a temperate, not tropical or Mediterranean, climate. If I'm wrong, then not all of my suggestions will work for you.

You're out of luck in terms of vegetables, but you have many other possibilities with flowers. Any shade-loving annual would work fine, as long as you water them when necessary; a little organic mulch would be nice (I recommend a bag of cocoa bean hulls, if they're available in your area).

Some plant suggestions include impatiens, wax and tuberous begonias, torenia, double balsam, polka dot plant (Hypoestes cultivars), and coleus. Trailing lobelia (Lobelia erinus cultivars) usually do well in dappled shade, which you may have under the trees.

If you want a more permanent solution, then you could go with some perennials like hosta, epimedium, bleeding heart (fern-leaf or "old-fashioned"), and toad lily (aka Tricyrtis).

  • Ooh, yes, sorry I'm in Zone 9b. I'll edit the question to reflect.
    – Rapitor
    Dec 27, 2019 at 14:14
  • The plants I listed should be just fine in 9b, too.
    – Jurp
    Dec 27, 2019 at 18:58

If the depth of the bed is only 6 or 7 inches, that will restrict what you can grow in terms of evergreen and deciduous shrubs - these would normally root down past the raised bed into the soil below.

Otherwise, it depends what you want to achieve really - 4 x 4 is a pretty small area and will easily be filled by a few plants. You might decide you'd like lots of colour in late spring up to fall/autumn, in which case, summer bedding would be good. Plants that will do well in this situation are Impatiens walleriana (and other Impatiens) tender Fuchsia, Begonia, Violas (Pansies) and Lobelia. These will all die or need replacing as winter arrives so if you can see the bed through a window, it's usual to remove them during early fall and replace with hardier things - new Violas, mini Cyclamen, ornamental cabbage, also known as flowering kale,though the latter two do prefer a little sun, along with small evergreen plants for contrast. In respect of evergreens, in the UK, small cuttings about 6-9 inches tall of various hardy shrubs are on sale specifically for temporary winter planting - I'm not sure if that's the case where you are.

For permanent planting, someone else has supplied a good list, but Geranium macrorrhizum also does well in shade, as does Liriope 'Munroe White'. Other cranesbill Geraniums may do well too, such as 'Wargrave's Pink', along with miniature daffodils such as 'Tete a Tete'. The trouble with these (as well as hostas and bleeding heart) is they all disappear in winter, though that may not be an issue if you can't see the bed through the windows anyway.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.