How to Use Ferns in Your Garden or Landscape

Ferns enhance the beauty of any shady garden or landscape. Learn how to plant and grow these hardy perennials, and which varieties are best.

Ferns enhance the beauty of any shady garden or landscape. Learn how to plant and grow these hardy perennials, and which varieties are best.

Walk through almost any natural area where there’s shade and some moisture, and you are bound to see ferns. They carpet the ground in woodlands and swampy areas, gather around springs and stream banks, cascade over rocky outcroppings and decorate old stone walls.

Ferns are plentiful in the wild, yet it’s unusual to see them growing in a home landscape. That’s unfortunate because these graceful perennials have so much to offer! They are easy to grow, long-lived and require zero care. They come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes. Plus, they are rarely troubled by diseases or pests, including deer and rabbits.

Using Ferns in Your Yard and Garden

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Ferns are an excellent addition to any shady garden. You can use them as specimen plants or for background plantings, and they’re good companions for other shade plants such as hostas, astilbes, dicentras, and caladiums.

If your yard is shady, it can be challenging to maintain a good-looking lawn. Why not consider replacing the most difficult areas with ferns? Once established, they are an excellent ground cover and require much less attention than turf grass.

As a general rule, ferns prefer moist soil, so they are a natural choice for edging a stream or pond. Have a soggy area or rain garden? Consider including ferns along with other moisture-loving perennials such as monarda, Joe Pye weed, and ornamental grasses.

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