Best Southern California Plants for Shade

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Best Southern California Plants For Shade
Sina Kamran
Sina Kamran

Founder and Owner of Design Scapes Inc.

One of the best parts about gardening is you can tailor your plant selection to fit any space available. Even if your garden consists of dry shade, there are a plethora of plant varieties that will thrive with proper care. If you’re looking for some inspiration to get started, here are some of the best southern California plants for shade!

Best Southern California Plants for Shade

Geraniums

A go-to for most gardeners, geraniums come in hundreds of varieties. Most prefer the sun, but they can thrive in the shade in hotter climates. They come in all shapes and sizes, meaning they can complement just about any garden. Some of the more scented varieties can even make great mosquito repellants! Geraniums will grow well either planted directly into the ground or in planters, but they do require well-draining soil no matter where you plant them.

Coprosma

Also known as the mirror plant, coprosma is a lovely evergreen shrub that thrives in hot climates. There are quite a few varieties, with foliage that comes in a range of glossy hues. Coprosma grows flowers in summer, which turn into small non-toxic berries once they are spent. It prefers the sun but will do well in partial shade. While it may need regular watering, it dislikes soggy soil, so it’s best to let the soil dry out before watering again.

Impatiens

Known for their bright, colorful blooms, impatiens are an excellent bedding plant. They come in a range of colors and thrive in the shade. When planted in warm climates, impatiens make a wonderful perennial; however, they are not drought tolerant. They will need well-draining soil and plenty of water on sweltering days, but their beautiful blossoms more than make up for the extra effort.

Camellias

Camellias are a fantastic choice for gardeners looking to add a bit of height to their gardens. They can be grown as either trees or shrubs and will provide you with an abundance of flowers in the winter. Although they are most recognizable by their blooms, camellias originally grew in popularity due to their leaves, which can be used to make tea! They cannot tolerate a full day of sunlight and prefer shadier spots that protect them from the hot sun.

Spurge

Spurge is a drought-tolerant groundcover that flourishes in the shade. It will grow well in most soil types and is resistant to most pests and animals, making it an easy choice for gardeners looking for something low maintenance and beautiful. It is an evergreen as well, so you can look forward to seeing a lovely bed of deep green foliage all year round!

String of Pearls

Perhaps most well known as a houseplant, string of pearls is a distinct succulent. They consist of vines with small pearl-like balls that produce little white flowers in the summer. They look especially charming hanging from a pot, and their tendrils can even reach up to three feet in length! String of pearls can also work as a groundcover, although they will do poorly in direct sunlight, so be sure they get at least partial shade.

Star Jasmine

Great for both ground cover and trellises, star jasmine is a fragrant climber with delicate white flowers. While it doesn’t produce as many flowers as other jasmine varieties, it does have a long flowering season and is low maintenance. This vine does well in shady spots and can even tolerate heavy shade. Unlike some plants, star jasmine is not particularly picky about its soil and will do well just about anywhere, as long as it gets enough water.

Lilyturf

Frequently used as an edging plant, lilyturf has attractive grass-like leaves and small spikes of purple or white flowers. It’s an exceptionally hardy flower, making it a popular choice for many gardeners. They are drought resistant but prefer not to be in soil that is too dry for long. The lovely spires of blooms make wonderful cut flowers!

Hostas

Famous for their thick, green foliage, hostas are a shade-loving plant that comes in a range of varieties. Though they are most well known for their broad leaves, hostas do produce dainty flowers for a few weeks a year. These flowers only last a day each, so enjoy them while they’re there. Make sure this perennial has plenty of shade and well-draining soil, and it will thrive in your garden.

Ajuga

Also known as bugleweed, these perennial flowers offer beautifully contrasting flowers and foliage. They are a speedy grower, which is not surprising considering they come from the mint family. Ajuga is a great choice for keeping weeds in check. Their foliage is incredibly thick, making it difficult for unwanted plants to sprout and saving you hours of labor in the garden. They don’t like too much moisture for long, making them a safe choice for dry climates.

What kind of plants do well in full shade?

If you’re looking for something that will thrive in full shade, there are still plenty of options to choose from. Foxglove is a popular choice for many gardeners and is famous for its distinct spires of bell-shaped flowers. This plant is also self-seeding, so you can expect blooms without having to replant every year!

What outdoor potted plants do well in the shade?

Not every plant will thrive in a container, but having potted plants to spice up the scenery is essential in landscaping. One popular option is caladium, which has large, flashy foliage in all sorts of colors. If you prefer hanging pots, creeping jenny, with its delicate leaves and flowers, is an excellent choice.

Design Scapes – We Can Aid You in Choosing the Best Southern California Plants for Shade

Our expert landscape designers are here to provide you with a comprehensive list of shade-loving plant recommendations to suit your unique garden. Whether you want to add new plants to complement your existing landscaping or start over from scratch, our team can guide you through the process of creating your own Garden of Eden.

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TESTIMONIALS

Andrew H.
Los Angeles, CA
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Sina and his team worked with us to design and build both our front and backyard. The results exceeded our expectations and the team worked patiently during COVID and through a challenging permitting process with LA City. The team was professional and always prompt. The pricing was fair and transparent, and communication was great. The project was large overall so we worked together with Design Scapes for almost one year. I have recommended the team to many people already and think they do great work.
Ben L.
Los Angeles, CA
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We hired Design Scapes to turn our backyard into a hostable space that would feel welcoming to guests, but more importantly, utilize what we felt was completely wasted space. It's hard to put words to just how incredible of an experience we had with Sina and his team. From the get-go, they were efficient, communicative, and dedicated to making us feel content. Sina, Aaron and everyone they work with truly understand design - the technical, architectural, and aesthetic elements that are needed in order to create the best results. We never had any doubt that we went with the right company. The results were ten times better than we ever could have imagined. Our backyard is a total haven, we feel like we're on vacation at our own house! We would give ten stars if we could!
May M.
North Hollywood, CA
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I worked with Sima at Design Scapes on a recent backyard renovation. He was extremely patient as we began from concept to finished project! His crew was very professional and it turned out exactly how I envisioned. The reno included building a pergula with a cover, hardscaping with pavers and adding lighting and ficus trees. We were so happy with the finished product!
Jeff R.
Santa Monica, CA
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Design Scapes constructed a composite wood deck and two planters in my back yard and I couldn't be happier with the result. Very professional, terrific work, really nice people (especially Heli, who worked with me throughout), and they got it done when they said they would, completely satisfied with the whole experience!
Charles M.
Santa Monica, CA
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Sina and his team are your go-to for innovative and beautiful outdoor construction. They installed a gigantic, closeable pergola over our wrap around deck. They handled the entire process from plans to permits to installation and did a tremendous job. We feel like we've added a room to our house. They did an amazing job. Five stars!
Laurene F.
Manhattan Beach, CA
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Design Scapes is very highly recommended! Very professional, creative and reliable. They were very timely and reasonable with their estimated budget and time line to complete the project. Also, they were very responsive with additional requests after the initial project. I will refer them to my friends.
Mersedeh M.
Los Angeles, CA
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I can not say enough how great working with Design Sacpes was. My husband and I met with several landscaping companies and Design Scapes seemed to be the most honest and professional one. Sina is an awesome person, he guided us in choosing the best design for our backyard while he was considering what we want in all the steps. We ended up planting some great fruit trees in addition to a cute fountain and some design with beautiful rocks. The crew was very clean and professional. We did not feel we have workers in our background the whole time. The final invoice reflected exactly what we had spoken of, although we made some changes and ended up choosing better material and plants in some occasions. I highly recommend Design Sacpes if you are looking for the best landscaping company.
Bob K.
West Hills, CA
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Sina and his crew are great. We started off with replacing a block wall we shared with our neighbor with a wood fence. Once we saw the excellent quality of the work we had him transform our backyard which was basically a dirt lot into a backyard oasis with pavers, a grassy area, a new tree and a section of plants. His crew is unbelievable. Vert talented and hard working. On time every day. Courteous and friendly. Always kept the work area clean. Sina when not on site was always available by phone or text. His estimates were clear, and his on line billing system was easy to use.
Charity B.
Thousand Oaks, CA
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We did 2 projects with Sina at the same time. One was done on time and was exactly to our specification (even though we changed our minds once the project started as is sometimes the case when you start to see it come together). Sina was always available with ideas, feedback and keeping us up to date. The other project was delayed through no fault of Sina's. The material he ordered came in damaged. He took care of it completely and rescheduled his crew to come back once the material was received. I didn't have to fight with anyone over damaged materials and he didn't even ask me to accept sub-quality. He just rejected it immediately and took care of the problem. Both projects were beautiful when finished. I am very happy with the quality of work. I have worked with many contractors. I can easily say that Sina is one of the best. He is amazing because he does exactly what he says he will do... follow up calls, shows up on time, sends detailed work plans, etc. Seems like a little thing but if you've worked with contractors, you know that's rare! I have already referred him to friends and will definitely use him again in the future.
Bill O.
New York, NY
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When my wife and I moved into our new house at the beginning of 2020, we loved the potential of our new backyard. It has a pool with lots of room for gatherings and two healthy fruit trees that provide good shade. Unfortunately the existing planters were overrun with tall unorganized grasses and the "grass" area was nothing but dirt. As soon as I called Sina at Design Scapes, he scheduled a quick visit to view the property and get an understanding of my design intent. He listened closely to what I wanted, offered his expertise and suggestions when appropriate, and created a plan that met all expectations. When I explained that the plan was slightly above my cost limit, he offered adjustments that kept the design incredible while aligning with my target budget. All work was performed professionally and on schedule and he has consistently followed up to ensure satisfaction. I would absolutely work with Sina on all future exterior projects! (Before and after photos attached)
Keithh N.
San Francisco, CA
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I can't express how happy we are with Sina's work. He is extremely professional and reliable. He was always at the job site when needed. And he clearly went the extra length to get our work done. One of the things we needed done was adding mesh to a quarter acre property around the Fenceline. Sina's team made sure to dig down over a foot under the dirt to make sure our animals couldn't get underneath it. He made sure The mesh was tied tightly to the fence around the entire property line. His work was very clean and he did not disrupt any of the plant life. He is extremely knowledgeable about landscaping and plant life. I would definitely recommend using him again and sure we will in the future! Thank you for everything Sina

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Our Certifications

We hold the following ICPI certifications:

Concrete Pavers

  • ICPI—Concrete Paver Installer Course
    • Introduction to the construction of interlocking concrete pavement systems using concrete pavers and slabs.
  • ICPI—Certified Concrete Paver Installer
    • Job planning and layout
    • Safety
    • Soil classification and compaction
    • Bedding and joint sand
    • Paver selection and installation
    • Use of labor-saving specialty tools
    • Edge restraints
    • Base material selection and compaction
  • ICPI—Residential Specialist Course
    • Creating an outdoor living area.
    • Bringing the indoor comforts outside.
      • Locations
      • Heat Materials
      • Utility Hookups
      • Appliances
      • Building Codes
    • Overlaying pavers on existing asphalt or concrete, and best installation methods. 
    • Includes paver overlay application around the perimeter of a pool, and general construction of a paver pool deck around most common types of pools (linear pool, fiberglass shell, or concrete shell.
      • Existing Site Conditions
      • Existing Pavement Preparation
      • Installation Details
      • Paver Overlays with Mortar or Adhesives
      • Types of Pools
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      • Drainage
      • Paver Selection
      • Building Codes
    • Details:
      • Seat Walls
      • Lighting
      • Decorative Borders and Edges
      • Utilities under the Pavement
    • Once course is completed, requires documentation of 50,000 square feet of concrete paver installation experience in residential projects to receive Residential Paver Specialist credential.
  • ICPI—Certified Concrete Paver Installer—Residential Specialist
    • The Residential Professional Course is the highest level designation for ICPI certified installers.
      • Base and Subbase
      • Edge Restraint
      • Bedding Sand
      • Concrete Pavers
      • Joint Sand
      • Supervisor’s role in finding and fixing workplace hazards.
      • Jobsite Planning and Logistics
      • Site Management
      • Equipment
    • Common conversions and equations needed when estimating materials, including perimeter, area and volume. Converting between different dimensions such as cubic feet to cubic yards.
    • The three basic components of a functional and attractive raised patio: walls, flatwork, and steps. Visualizing the levels and steps and then developing solutions for the site. 
      • Considerations
      • Steps
      • Railings
      • On-Site
      • Building Codes
    • Once course is completed, installer must document 25,000 square feet of concrete paver installation experience and 20 residential projects to receive Residential Paver Specialist credential.

Permeable Pavers

  • ICPI—Permeable Interlocking Concrete Pavement (PICP) Specialist Course
    • Use of permeable pavers can reduce the quantity of runoff and maximize irrigation of your property.
      • Benefits
      • System Components
      • Types of Systems
      • Precautions

National Concrete Masonry Association Certifications

  • Certified Segmental Retaining Wall Installer (CSRWI)
    • Advanced topics include: 
      • Wall layout and planning
      • Water and drainage
      • Cut and fill walls
      • Tiered walls
      • Corners and curves
      • Stairs and patios

Pricing

  • Our pricing is completely transparent. 
  • Estimates, quotes, and invoices are always line-itemized for different trades or sections of scope of work. No big mystery numbers where you don’t know what you’re paying for.
  • We quote the installation based on existing site conditions, local codes, bespoke materials or layout, and/or pattern picked.
  • If there are any change orders, they are quoted and approved by the client first. They are fully documented, leaving a complete paper trail. 
  • Labor cost is based on what it takes to do the job right, and do right by a professional crew.
  • Expect to invest up to 7% of your property’s value for a completely new outdoor space. 
  • The design phase cost is approximately 3% – 7% of the total installation cost.
  • Each project is custom designed, and cost depends on design.
  • When needed, we work with you to accomplish your project in stages—rather than diminish your vision.
  • You know what your costs are upfront before any work starts.

Payments

  • We accept credit cards, check, cash, wire transfer, Venmo and Zelle.
  • You get a payment schedule with your project schedule. 
  • You only pay for labor, and materials delivered up to payment date. You’re not paying in advance so we can buy materials.
  • When implementing your project in stages, the Design Phase is completed and paid for in advance of implementing the first stage.

Return on Investment

  • You expect a return on investment when improving your property. 
  • Studies show that a beautifully landscaped yard can increase your property’s value by up to 20%. 
  • Money magazine estimates that you can recover up to 120% of your project’s cost when you sell your property.

Implementation Phase

  • We provide you a detailed project and work schedule that shows orders, deliveries, installation dates, and payment due dates.
  • You know exactly how many days your project takes, and what to expect each day.
  • Your designer / estimator is present on-site every day of installation, supervising the project from start to finish. Eagle-eyed supervision prevents aesthetic or functional mistakes.
  • Our team includes only in-house workers who have been with us for years. All workers are bonded.
  • Design Scapes Inc is fully licensed under both C27 Landscaping and General B licenses.
  • We never sub-contract our work to others or hire day laborers.
  • Every installation team member has decades of experience and expertise in their area of specialty.
  • All work is insured, and supervised. 
  • We carry all required insurance policies like workers’ compensation, liability, and vehicle coverage.
  • Our efficient process controls the chaos of construction. Only the tools, equipment, and materials that are needed for the work week get delivered and stored for that week. 
  • Site, tools, and materials tidied up and secured at the end of every work day.
  • We need no interior access and bring our own toilets and power generator.
  • We leave your work site spotless and hazard-free.

Design Phase

  • You get one-on-one consultation from an, award-winning landscape designer, Sina Kamran.
  • I will generate picture designs for your new outdoor space, and presents them to you.
  • Design goes through an extensive revision stage. Together, we go through all different layouts, patterns, material types and colors, or different functions to consider. 
  • The revision stage eliminates problematic surprise change orders and project delays. It also enables us to deliver your project per schedule.
  • Your project installation is scheduled as soon as you approve the final project plans.
  • Lead time is usually three to five weeks from approval.

Complimentary Estimate

  • We get a copy of your plot plan and general yard measurements in preparation for the initial consultation.
  • We draw inspiration from your property and listen to your dreams for your outdoor space. The meeting focuses on your vision and how we could help you realize it. 
  • We survey the area and point out possibilities and discuss potential issues. 
  • We make a point of providing an accurate bid rather than bidding low to get the work. You have our promise on this.
  • We want you to have the peace of mind of knowing exactly what your project will cost from the very start. No surprises.
  • Once you approve the initial estimate, we move on to the Design Phase.
  • You receive a final and firm quote once the Design Phase is completed and all work has been identified.