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How to better plan and organise your garden by following the sun

Follow the Sun

How to better plan and organise your garden by following the sun

Here are some of our top tips for how to work out what shade you need in your garden. 

Start by determining the aspect of your garden, i.e. which way does your garden face?

North, South, East, or West?

Initially you can do this by using a compass, most smart phones have a compass on it, if not there are a number of apps out there:  Sun Seeker Sun Tracker Compass (US$9.99); and Find my Shadow (£2.99) are just two.  The following link gives you a complete review of the best compass Apps in 2019 for IOS and Android phones,

To get further detail on your garden’s aspect and how the sun is positioned throughout the day you can measure the sun forensically by noting down, hour-by-hour, area-by-area, how much sun each part of your garden gets.  

If this sounds too technical for you, an easier way would be to look out at your garden in the morning, determine the position of the sun, check again at lunchtime and then finally in the evening. 

Once your garden’s aspect is determined use the ‘shade cast’ diagrams below to help select the best position for what you want in your garden; for example an entertaining area, a reading nook, a general play area as well as sun-loving, shade-loving, partial-shade plants etc.

North Facing Gardens

If your garden is North-facing it has shade for much of the day, however, the back of your house will get decent evening sun from May to October.  The diagram below shows the degree of shade cast in the morning, noon, and evening reading left to right.

Sun North Aspect

If you are a morning person think about shading the area directly outside your back door, this would be a good breakfast area that can be partially shaded with a Clara Shade Sail.

South Facing Gardens

If your garden is South-facing you get a lot of sunshine throughout the day and have little shade. Looking at your garden with your back to your house, your far boundary wall faces north, hence it will be shaded most of the day.  Your right-hand boundary is east-facing so will get morning sun while your left-hand boundary faces west and will get afternoon and evening sun.

The handy diagram below shows the degree of shade cast in the morning, noon and evening, reading left to right.

Sun South Aspect

Consider when you are most likely to use your garden and for what purpose, entertaining, reading, chilling, planting.  The ‘shade cast’ diagram can help you visualize how to plan your garden with the right plants and recreational themes so that you will get the most from your garden and really enjoy the long summer days.

East Facing Gardens

East-facing gardens mainly get morning sunlight that lasts well into the afternoon with evening shade. The diagram below shows the degree of shade cast in the morning; with your back to your house looking out at the garden, your back boundary wall is in shade, at noon the right-hand boundary wall is in shade and then by the evening, 80% of the garden is in shade.  We should, however, remember that the evenings are longer from May to October so the back-boundary wall is going to be bathed in sun for some time.

Sun Aspect East

West Facing Gardens

West-facing gardens are shaded in the morning and get sun in the afternoon and evening.  If you are an afternoon person and like to work or entertain at this time, it would be wise to consider installing a shaded area for relief from the searing afternoon sun.

Sun Aspect West

If you want to re-create the shade sail in the photo below, a Shade Sail would be most effective in the back right-hand corner of the garden to shield from mid-day sun or attached to the back of the house to shade you when eating dinner al fresco.

Clara Shade Sail Eating Area

What are you going to use your garden for?

It is also useful to ask yourself what times you're most likely to be out in your garden and for what activities?

Do you like to snooze or read in the garden, if so do you have a specific time of day for this?  Our Hammocks are a great feature for a quiet corner of any garden.

Do you entertain? If so at what time, morning, lunch or dinner?

Are you a keen BBQer, do you need shade when BBQing?

Do you want your children shaded when they are playing out in the garden?

The above are just a few things to consider when planning and organising your garden.  Your garden is an extension of your home and is an ideal space to create another room - a temporary outdoor room just for the summer season.

Whether you want to map the sun for planting, entertaining, or for anything else the above ‘shade cast’ diagrams will help you to get the perfect positions. 

Click here for another useful blog on how to get your garden ready for summer!

Good Luck!