When part, or all, of your yard spends most of its time in the shade, it can be hard to figure out how to plant and keep a beautiful garden. The reasons for difficulty may vary -- many plants don't grow well in the shade, the area can remain too wet or it can be too dark. But there's good news. There are a number of ways to improve and fix your shaded yard so that you get the yard you really want. Here are 5 ideas to help any shady spot.

Reduce Grass. Grass often does poorly in full shade, so you might want to begin by removing any sections that aren't thriving. A small patch of healthy grass looks better than a large swath of faded or dry grass. You can use the cleared lawn space to create an entertainment space, a bushy garden or a focal point. 

Brighten it Up. Fight the inherent darkness of shaded areas by planting bright colors and textures. Yellow, white and gold plants reflect light, so take advantage of this natural brightener by planting such things as Japanese forestgrass, bright hostas or Canadian Gold euonymus. Bright annual flowers like impatiens or coleus add flash to the space as well. 

Fix the Moisture. Moisture problems can abound in shaded areas, so assess your water levels before deciding what to plant. Because they don't dry up quickly, shady spots can accumulate puddles or swampy areas. You can add drainage to problem areas using a French drain or raise the ground level to help water run off. If solving the water puddling isn't an easy option, embrace the swampy areas and plant moisture-loving plants like canna or Elephant's ear.

Use Interesting Materials. Make your shady area a focal point by adding interesting visual elements. Mulch mixed with wood chips -- an easy solution for overly wet or unplanted areas -- creates a nice path when combined with variegated plants along the sides. A water feature is a relaxing way to draw guests into a woody or shady niche. 

Add Hardscaping. If you don't want to fuss with changing the greenery or the terrain, you could avoid the whole problem and install hardscaping instead. Use pavers to create an entertainment area or bring in some flagstones and a bench to turn your shady nook into a private retreat. 

Embracing your shaded yard is possible with a little planning and help from a landscaping service. Once you decide if you can adjust the moisture levels, brighten up the space or change it to hardscaping, you can create the yard of your dreams no matter what the sun or shade level is.