Our poor house’s front yard is so lacking… the front walk is dark, the bushes are too tall and mismatched, and the grass struggles to grow because the shade is too deep. We’ve been pondering how to make it better without spending a ton of money, and I think the answer is to remove everything on right side of the yard along the path (starting at the rhododendron blocking the window), reshape the grass so that it abuts the path, and add one or two small bushes (mini rhodie?) under the left window where we’ll have a gap, and find a lot more hostras and ferns (which tolerate the shade) to fill in the low level and add organized texture.
I’m planning to attempt to transplant the azaleas (and maybe that rhododendron, depending how much digging is involved) to the backyard, but I’ll wait until after they bloom. In the meantime, I cut down then dug up four of the other shrubs along the walkway. The gap is great – very reinforcing that this will make a huge difference. The plan is to bring the lawn to the path at right about the same spot that you see the darker turned-over soil.
If we can’t get grass to grow there, we’ll probably mulch it unless someone can recommend a non-invasive shade-loving ground cover that’s okay to walk on and that looks tidy without special maintenance? (If that’s not a request for a magic bullet, I don’t know what is. We’re 99% sure that no such thing exists, other than moss, and the soil drains too well to even support that.)