As British summertime begins and the weather finally starts to heat up, a lot of people are starting to make the most of their garden spaces. Whether it’s through a BBQ with family and friends, a couple of drinks whilst you’re basking in the sun, or a bit of quiet gardening on a Sunday.
However, what a lot of people forget to factor into their garden is what direction it faces. The direction which your garden faces presents its own unique set of positives and negatives and knowing exactly what you are dealing with allows you to make the most of it, especially as far as having a north facing garden is concerned.
Looking for a quick answer? Check out our drop-down menu below!
- What Is A North Facing Garden?
- How To Find Out If a Garden Is North Facing
- How Much Sun Will You Get?
- How To Find Out How Much Sun A North Facing Garden Will Get
- Positives To Having A North Facing Garden
- Negatives To Having A North Facing Garden
- Plants That Will Thrive
- Is A North Facing Garden A Problem?
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
What Is A North Facing Garden?
A north facing garden is a garden that faces north. Unlike west-facing gardens, gardens that face north don’t get a lot of sun and instead spend the majority of the day basking in the shade. This is because the house typically blocks the sun, especially if you have a smaller, garden.
How To Find Out If a Garden Is North Facing
There are two main ways to find out what direction your garden faces. The first way you can do this is by bringing up the compass app on your phone, or alternatively use a real compass if you have one, and stand with your back against the wall. Point your phone towards the lower part of your garden, where the compass should point to the direction your garden faces.
The other way you can do this is by opening up Google maps and entering the address of the property in order to determine which direction the garden is facing. However, it is worth keeping in mind that this trick will only work with houses situated in the northern hemisphere.
How Much Sun Will You Get?
One of the reasons that a garden that faces the north is seen as the least desirable type of garden to have is because of the lack of sunlight that it receives. As the garden faces north, the majority of the garden is cast in the shade. If you have a smaller garden, the chances of your garden getting any sun are fairly slim, however, if you have a larger garden there is the chance that your garden, or at least parts of it, will receive some sun during the day.
What Months Are Best If You Have A North Facing Garden?
If you want sun in the morning, then the months of August all the way through to April will be the best for you as the sun rises in the east. It will also then get further sunshine in the evening as the sun sets in the west. If sun during the middle of the day is more what you are looking for, then your garden may get sun during the day from May to July as the sun will be at its highest in the sky.
How To Find Out How Much Sun A North Facing Garden Will Get
There are a few different ways to track exactly how much sun your garden will get. The first way to do this is to visit the potential garden at several points throughout the day. By doing this you can see for yourself exactly how much sun your garden would get. However, this method will not give you a definite answer as to where the sun exactly is in the sky at certain points during the day.
If you want to properly track the sun properly, the best answer is a sun app. There are plenty available online for free such as ‘sun position’, ‘sun position and path’, and ‘LightTrac’.
Can I Get Sun In A North Facing Garden?
Whilst it may feel that having a north facing garden means you are doomed to never see the sun again this is not the case. There are several tricks you can try that will make your garden look and feel brighter. Painting the walls white, installing water features and the clever placement of mirrors can all make your garden feel far sunnier.
Positives To Having A North Facing Garden
Contrary to popular belief, there are some positives to having a garden that faces north. A lot of what puts people off a north facing garden is down to personal choice. What is right for someone, may not necessarily be right for someone else.
- As a north-facing garden is bathed in shade for the majority of the day, it means that the temperature is less likely to fluctuate to extreme temperatures as they may do in west or east-facing gardens.
- Not only does the shade in a garden that faces north protect you from fluctuating temperatures, but it also protects both you, your plants, and your furniture from the suns damaging rays.
- It also means that on very hot days, you will be able to relax in your garden without burning or being too hot.
- If you have a larger north-facing garden, you will have the best of both worlds as your garden will benefit from both sun and shade throughout the day.
- Should your property have a conservatory, it will stay cooler during the summer months. This is a positive as often conservatories become unbearable during the summer due to the heat.
- Any rooms within the property that face out towards the south will receive plenty of sunlight.
Negatives To Having A North Facing Garden
However, there are also negatives to having a north facing garden that you need to be aware of before purchasing a property that has one.
- The most obvious negative side to having a north facing garden is that throughout the majority of the day, the garden and house will be in the shade.
- In the summer months you will not be able to sit out in the back garden to enjoy the sun.
- On the other side of this problem, during the winter months your garden will receive very little sunlight.
- It can be harder to grow a decent lawn when you have a garden that faces a northern direction as a result of the lack of sunlight.
- Issues such as moss and algae can crop up in a north facing garden as they thrive in conditions that are shady and damp.
- The rear rooms of your property can feel particularly cold during the winter months.
Plants That Will Thrive
The upside to a north-facing garden is that whilst not every kind of flower and plant will grow, it does mean it is the perfect habitat for others. Some flowers that will thrive in a north facing garden include:
- Sweet Box
- Lily Of The Valley
- Ferns And Hostas
- Variegated Ivy
Vegetables and herbs that thrive in these conditions include:
Different Types Of Shade
To make the most of your garden, it is important to get to grips with the different types of shade that can be found.
- Open Shade: In your garden, there may be spots that get a lot of bright light but no direct sunlight. This is what is referred to as open shade. Whilst the area is open to the sky, there will be a house, fence or a wall that is blocking the sun.
- Filtered Shade: This is classed as when moving patterns of sunlight manage to get through the branches of a tree. This area will get less than 4 hours of direct sunlight.
- Medium Shade: This is created when open shade is combined with light-blocking from leaves and branches. If you want more sunlight in these areas, pruning can help to increase exposure.
- Deep Shade: This kind of shade is found beneath trees with very thick leaves and branches. Most commonly found in forests, deep shade gets very little sunlight and very few plants can grow.
Whilst there is no proof that the tools people use to measure sunlight exposure, some include a lower-cost sunlight calculators such as a Luster Leaf or the slightly more expensive solar power radiation meter.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Is A North Facing Garden A Problem?
A garden that faces north can certainly be a problem for some people. It’s cool temperature and lack of sunlight can certainly be viewed as negatives however it is all down to personal preference. Everybody is better suited to different things and whilst sun worshippers may want to skip a house with a north facing garden, people who are less bothered about the warmth may find themselves quite at home in a property that comes with a north facing garden.
This covers everything you need to know about north-facing gardens, if you have any questions, queries, or insight into the subject, please feel free to get in touch!