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Blank Slate: Help With Total Backyard Overhaul

Hi everyone,

I'm a newbie to gardening, but have sort of caught the bug since recently buying my first home. I'll try to lay out my specific needs without being too incredibly verbose.

For starters, I'm in the Kansas City area, so Zone 6.

I have struggled with a very shady backyard since moving in and haven't accomplished much, besides removing a TON of overgrowth from the previous homeowners.

However, the power company came by this week and whacked down a bunch of Bradford pear trees that border my back fence. This has allowed probably 5x the previous amount of sun into my yard.

On the plus side, this gives me way more sun to work with. On the down side, it's mostly afternoon sun, which absolutely fried six hydrangeas that were the only decent things along the back fence. I waited about two weeks for them to recover but was afraid of losing them entirely, so I moved most of them to a back corner with more shade.

That leaves me with about a 50 x 5 strip along the back fence with nothing but dirt, ready for planting. I'm excited, but have no idea where to start.

I uploaded photos here (taken around 9 a.m.). In the left corner there are a few astilbe I planted from bare roots this spring, along with some sweet woodruff that has done OK. In the far right corner, there are four of those sad, transplanted hydrangeas and a few hostas. Everywhere in between is bare. I'm hoping to get grass to fill in up to the border, now that I have more sun in the yard.

This back area gets some filtered light until the early afternoon, then pretty direct afternoon sun for about 2-3 hours now that the trees have been trimmed. I know those will fill out a bit in the next few years, but I need shade-tolerant plants that can also handle a bit of afternoon sun. The sun also moves left to right in these photos, so there's a bit less sun going toward the right end of the photos.

I know this is basically a blank slate, but just looking for some ideas. My thought was to put in a few shrubs to provide structure, then fill in around -- I just have no idea what! I tend to like more clean lines, rather than an more crowded cottage look. But I'm open to anything.

Fire away, everyone. I know it looks very sad at the moment, but that's why I'm here to learn! :-)

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