North facing gardens – All you need to know
When property searching, the garden is often a key feature that influences whether you decide to make an offer or not. Everyone wants a south facing garden, but in this guide we’re going to look at a north facing garden and what it means to have outdoor space that faces north.
When property searching, the garden is often a key feature that influences whether you decide to make an offer or not. Everyone wants a south facing garden, but in this guide we’re going to look at north facing gardens and what it means to have an outdoor space that faces north.
Should you buy a house with a north facing garden, or a north west facing garden, or even a north east facing garden? Keep reading to find out more.
What is a north facing garden?
A north facing garden is one where the garden is located north of your house, so if you’re standing in your home looking out at the garden you’ll be looking to the North. North facing gardens are typically in shade for much of the day, as the house is usually blocking the sun. Though, in the summer months, if your garden is big enough and your house not too tall, a north facing garden (or at least parts of it) can receive sunshine throughout the day.
What should I know about a north facing garden?
For some property buyers, a north facing garden is an automatic dealbreaker. But, it doesn’t need to be the end of the road for considering the property. Sure, it might not be the ultimate sun trap, but there are plenty of reasons to love a north facing garden.
We’ve put together some of the pros and cons of a north facing garden:
Pros of a north facing garden
Although north facing gardens often get a bad reputation, it’s not all doom and gloom. For some homes, having a north facing garden is seen as a great asset for a number of reasons, including:
- Temperatures in a north facing garden are less likely to fluctuate to extreme temperatures
- In a north facing garden, you, your plants and your outdoor furniture will be shaded from the damaging rays of the sun
- There are plenty of interesting and beautiful plants that will grow in a north, north east, or north west facing garden
- In very hot weather, a shady north facing garden will provide you with a wonderful respite from the heat
- Rooms in the front of the property will get lots of sunlight throughout the day, as they’ll be facing south
- If you have a conservatory leading to a north facing garden, it will stay cooler during the summer months (avoiding the often unbearable heat conservatories can suffer from in summer)
- Long north facing gardens benefit from both shade and sunlight – with the end of the garden getting lots of sun during the summer months
Cons of a north facing garden
We’d be doing you an injustice if we didn’t mention the issues with a north facing garden, so here are some of the most common drawbacks:
- The garden and the back of your house will be in shade most of the day
- In the summer, you won’t be able to sit out and enjoy hours bathing in the sunshine
- In the winter, north facing gardens receive very little direct sunlight – especially if it’s a short garden
- It’s harder to grow a decent lawn in a north facing garden, due to the lack of sunlight
- Moss and algae can be an issue in north facing gardens as they grow well in wet, shady conditions
- You’ll have to carefully select plants that are suitable for shady conditions with low levels of sunlight
- It’s difficult to grow many types of fruits and vegetables in a north facing garden
- The rear rooms of your house will feel particularly cold in the winter
Best plants for north facing gardens in the UK
If you’re wondering what plants grow in a north facing garden, we’re here to help. And the good news is, there are lots of plants for north facing gardens that will love the cooler, shady conditions. When you’re looking for what to plant in a north facing garden, it’s important to go for plants that thrive in cool, low-light conditions.
Here’s our top pick of north facing garden plants:
- Ferns and hostas
- Sweet box
- Variegated ivy
- Lily of the valley
And if you fancy growing vegetables or herbs in your north facing garden, go for:
Hire a local professional gardener
If you’re struggling with your north facing garden, get help from a good local gardener who’ll be able to advise on the best plants for north facing gardens. With a little planning and some expert knowledge, you’ll be able to turn north facing garden ideas into a lush reality.
Local gardeners may also be able to help with north facing garden design – or at least recommend an experienced garden designer for the job.
To help you plan your budget for your garden, we’ve put together a few handy cost guides for you:
Small north facing garden design ideas
Want to know what to do with a north facing garden? You might not have a large sun-drenched south facing garden but you can still create a beautiful lush outdoor space for your home with a small north facing garden. Here are some of our top tips for putting together your small north facing garden design ideas:
- Grow luscious green foliage with plants that love the cool, shady conditions
- Add splashes of colour with garden furniture, plant pots and other outdoor accessories
- Opt for pavers, gravel or decking rather than attempting to grow a lawn, as the grass will struggle to grow in low-light conditions
- Locate seating at the end of the garden, if possible, to benefit from catching more of the sun
- Prune lower branches of any taller trees to add extra light into your north facing garden
Thinking of landscaping your garden? Check out our guide to creating a landscaped garden.
What are the best times for north facing garden sun?
Between August and April, a north facing garden will get some sun first thing in the morning as the sun rises in the east. It will also get some sunshine at the end of the day as the sun sets in the west. In the summer months (May to July), a north facing garden may also get sun during the middle of the day when the sun is highest in the sky.
How much sun does a North facing garden get?
Exactly how much sun a north facing garden gets will depend on the size of the garden and the size of your house. Long north facing gardens that belong to a standard two-storey home will get a decent amount of sunshine in the summer, though less in the winter month.
A north east facing garden will get more morning sun and less afternoon sun, and a north west facing garden will get less morning sun but more sun later in the day.
Is a North or South facing garden better?
That depends on who you ask. If you want to bathe in sunshine during the summer and have a garden full of sun-loving flowers and plants, then a south facing garden is better. If, however, you enjoy a shady spot in hot weather and love the look of lush green foliage in your garden, then a north facing garden would be a better option.
How can I get sun in a North facing garden?
The best ways to brighten up a North facing garden is to use clever trickery of the light, such as painting the walls white, installing mirrors and even water features. These will all reflect and bounce the light around to make the space brighter and appear sunnier.