Which Way Does Your Garden Face- Getting the Planting Right Based on Sunlight Levels

Sunshine direction is important in the garden
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In this article, we will be determining which direction your garden or container garden face, as this often determines what plants will do well. The amount of sunlight plants get will determining what will flourish and what will struggle.

Sunshine direction is important in the garden
Sunshine direction is important in the garden

If you read my various articles, you know that I make stress to the plants preferred light growing conditions, be it in full sun, partial or full shade. This article is to help you determine which direction your garden is facing.

If you know the garden aspects, it will help you make not only the right plant choice but also help you decide where to place trees and shrubs to avoid casting further shadows in your garden for much of the day. This is often ignored when you are planning your garden, as you need to consider all tall structures surrounding your garden, be it trees, buildings, sheds, greenhouses etc. It is important to get the light exposure right for your garden.


You need to track the sun and the shadows it makes from the morning, midday and evening from spring to early autumn where plants are actively growing.

In winter, when the sun is lower and the daylight hours are shorter, not much consideration is required for plants. This is because most plants have become dormant at this time of year and so light consideration is not required.

In spring, summer and autumn, you need to take notes and pictures from the same starting point in the garden. Some pictures in the morning, taking note where the shadows form from buildings, trees and structures.

Get the sun direction right
Get the sun direction right

At midday, you will need to repeat the exercise and take pictures and notes telling you have the shadows have changed and moved.

This should be repeated in the evening to see how the garden light and shadows have changed before the sun sets.

You can now gauge how your garden behaves from morning to evening in terms of how much light it receives and how much shade is cast.

To get a truer picture, the notes and photographs taking should be repeated throughout the growing season, so that a better picture of how much light the garden truly gets. At the same time as gauging the light levels, you need to take notes of what plants do well until those conditions and which ones are struggling.


What must be remembered is that the plant must match the light conditions well and not the other way around.

One advantage the container gardener has is that you can move plants all year round. If you see a plant struggling in dull light, you can move it to a brighter location or a plant is taking on too much sun and wilting, it can be moved to where it will get more shade.

You can also move your containers as the season changes, so you can have the extra advantage of having a beautiful garden near to you, no matter the season.

Always get to know your garden conditions before buying plants. It will stop you from buying the heartache of buying plants, only for you to lose them.


If after all this research, you find that you have a north-facing garden, then you will find that most of the garden will be in the shade at midday, whilst the west side is in the shade in the morning and the east side is in the shade in the evening. Let us say the garden will get more shade than other positions.

Shadow reveals the direction of the sun
Shadow reveals the direction of the sun

In this type of lighting scheme, architectural foliage plant and a selection of flowering plants that enjoy shady and cool conditions are preferred.

When planting, position trees and tall shrubs at the end of the plot to prevent casting more shade. For plants in this location, I recommend you read my articles on what plants do well in the shade. Do not forget to take extra precaution if you also have an exposed site, as very little will do well in this situation.


If your garden is east facing, you will expect your plot to be much in the sun in the morning. By midday, you expect a shadow to form on the west side but then in the late afternoon, your garden will be much in the shade.

This type of garden will support a large group of flowering and foliage plants that thrive in light shade. Grow sun-seekers in places which gets the most hours of sunlight for the longest periods.


If your garden is south facing then most of your garden will be in the sun for most of the day in summer. In the morning the east part will be in the shade, where at midday the whole garden will be bathing in brilliant sunshine. In the evening the west-facing area will be in the shade. You can grow sun-loving plants in this type of garden, as this is the optimum growing conditions for many flowering plants.

The biggest problem that you will face is that the soils and composts tend to dry out quickly, and therefore containers will need to be watered much more frequently.


West-facing gardens are normally in full shade from early mornings, but as the sun comes around from late morning to evening, it will be in full sun. At midday, the eastern side will be in the shade, whilst in the evening the sun will light the whole garden up.

West-facing gardens are ideal growing conditions for plants that are happy in full sun or partial, dappled shade. You do have much more choice than other direction facing gardens, even more than south-facing gardens where plants that thrive under shady conditions cannot be grown.

Like east-facing gardens, sun lovers will thrive in the brightest area of the garden. When we are talking about sun lovers, we are talking about plants that like to bathe in the sunshine for at least 6 hours per day, so plant in these areas wherever they occur.


In this article, we have discussed the importance of knowing which way your garden face. It is important to gauge which way your garden gets sunlight at different times of the year so that your plant selection can be better made.

No matter if your garden faces the north, east, south or west, you can see that your plants’ selection will change. North-facing garden favouring shade-loving plants, whilst in the south-facing sun-loving plants will do well. You now understand why sunlight is important in determining where to place your plants and therefore your containers.

You can use this article, along with my many articles on this website to come up to what plants can be grown under the various lighting conditions you are likely to face.

If you have any questions or comments you wish to make, please do so in the comment box below.

Brighten up your shade with the right plants.


10 thoughts on “Which Way Does Your Garden Face- Getting the Planting Right Based on Sunlight Levels”

  1. Sunlight is a very vital part of plants and if you don’t get it you’ll get bad plant growth and no one would want that to happen to their plants. I really think most people do not understand the position of their garden in line with sunlight while making it until it’s already done. Getting the knowledge and making sure you get it right is key

    1. Hi Justin

      It is important to make sure that you match  the plant to the growing conditions  rather than the growing conditions to the plant. Light is so important in the garden that it is important to gauge how light and dark your garden is. Get it right and your garden will be beautiful. 

      Kind regards 


  2. Knowing that plants live of sunlight for photosynthesis and what not, it is important to arrange your garden in a manner that will maximise the exposure to sunlight. I always enjoy reading your articles cause they are filled with invaluable information and advice about gardening that have been very helpful to me. Keep up the good work 

    1. Hi Beesan 

      As they say if you want to do something you might ad well do it right. This is why I spend a lot of time on my articles to make sure that my readers get a lot from them. Light I’d so important in the garden.

      Kind regards


  3. Wow

    This was interesting and eye opening to read. To some of us planting has just been planting but i now realize that there is a ‘how to plant’. It has been a hit and miss for me for years. This a full comprehensive lesson of how to plant. I Have to bookmark it and re read it next time I think of planting. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and skill with us.

    1. Hi Bogadi

      I try to give as much information bas possible, so that people do not struggle with plants that do not do well because you do not know the layout of your garden. Light is so important and it is important that you know how bright or how shady your garden is.



  4. Great site with lots of information available. I like gardening,however I know little about flowers. My garden seem to have more weeds. I love the information you give. Easy to follow. Great offers available on your site. Nicely laid out and easy to navigate. I will be back for more tips on how to look after my garden

    1. Hi Anne

      Thank you for those kind and glowing words and I am glad you like the look of my website. I try to keep it as simple as possible, so people can get as much as possible from it. I think you will enjoy what I have planned in the future.



  5. I love gardening. The only probelm is im staying in highrise apartment. I can only have indoor plants. Your article is very informative. The casting of shadows from the taller plants is something we never think of. Thanks for pointing this out. Generally all plants need sunlight for photosynthesis. If they cannot get that light they do not do well. If other plants are blocking the light from others the garden will not look good. I have learnt something from  this. Thanks

    1. Hi Kadango

      I have many articles on houseplants and how to look after them, just consult my indoor houseplant category and you will be inspired. Light is so important and hence why this article was written.

      Thanks for visiting


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