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Gardening With A South Facing Aspect

Our October garden guide is sharing tasks that can be carried out this month. The images shows the evening sun bursting through a perennial flower border

Surprisingly, gardening with a south facing aspect is a gardener’s gift. When I first started gardening with a south facing aspect, I felt like I had been given a gift. Most of my previous gardens came with challenging aspects. I welcomed the chance to have plenty of sunlight and warmer micro climates. When you have a south facing aspect you have the longest daylight and that can bring warmer temperatures. There are exceptions such as, if you live on a hillside or you have a windy location.

A covered porch with a climbing rose and clipped yews. depicting an English country style garden.

What is a south facing garden?

A south facing garden is a garden that gets sunlight for most of the day. If you have a south east aspect the sunlight will be best in the morning until late afternoon. Likewise, if you have a south west aspect, you will have more sunlight from noon onwards. A south facing garden generally speaking, has a warmer climate due to higher sunlight levels.

Why choose a south facing garden?

We now know that this aspect will bring the most sunlight and a warmer micro climate. This gives the gardener the chance to grow more tender, sun loving plants from warmer climates, such as the Mediterranean. Plants which are grown in a south facing garden need to be sun lovers. In some places they need to like drier conditions, this is why plants from warmer climates grow well.

South facing gardens have become very popular and sought after since the pandemic. Whilst it is not necessarily a deal breaker, it can offer the highest light levels indoors. A north facing garden offers much lower sunlight and are often cooler.  According to This Money ‘South-facing gardens have become even hotter property during the pandemic’.

Are there any disadvantages to a south facing garden?

The number one disadvantage is the lack of shade, if there are no trees growing in the garden. Not only is there no respite from the hot summer sun outdoors the same can be true indoors. Whilst I love my south facing garden during the hotter summer days, I do have to draw the curtains. Otherwise, our main room becomes unbearably hot. The garden has no shade and between 10am-6pm gardening can become challenging as the temperatures rise. However, this may not be a challenge to anyone who loves it hot.

South facing patio with seating but no shade
Are there any exceptions?

Yes, there are exceptions, sometimes shade is due to another property blocking the sunlight. This scenario is more common in large cities where the population density is high. 

Another exception is when trees or hedges from neighbouring properties grow too tall and block the sunlight. I have experienced these challenges when working with several clients.

You cannot alter or move a fixed object like a house or building. Therefore, you will need to be more creative with the light levels. Using plants which will tolerate lower light levels is the key to success. Additional artificial lighting may be required as the daylight fades.

With a living tree or hedge there are options with different pruning methods. I have found there can be a compromise, for example a tree could be thinned, or the crown raised. Overgrown hedges can be reduced in height and width, or even removed and a new hedge planted. Inviting the neighbour over to chat about your challenges could be a good option and see where you can compromise.

Happy gardening, Kristian

Have you subscribed yet? It’s the easiest way to delve deeper on this topic. The following articles in this series will be coming soon and I would hate for you to miss out on this!

South facing garden Ideas

South facing garden Checklist

Flowers and Vegetables for a south facing garden

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