Understanding the orientation of a garden is essential when looking to buy a house or upgrading your existing garden. Knowing where the sun rises and falls will ensure that you get the most out of your outdoor space.
While a south-facing garden is favourable to most, as it enjoys day-long sunshine, there are many benefits to having a North East garden.
What is a NE Facing Garden?
The sun rises in the east and sets in the west as the earth spins in rotation to the east. When it comes to your garden understanding how the sun moves around it will inform how you utilise the space.
You will know you have a north-facing garden when you stand at the back of your house and look straight ahead, you’ll be facing the north or north-east.
A north-facing garden is generally dark at most times of the day but with a north-east facing garden, there will be the sunlight in the morning as the sun rises.
A garden facing north-east will experience sun at the end of your garden, especially if it is long. As the day progresses the sun will begin to move to the front of your house so the house will block the sun from your garden.
The most accurate way to check out your garden aspect is to stand by the outside wall at the back of your home with a compass (using an app on your smartphone) to see which direction is north. If the reading is between 270° and 90°, your garden is north-facing.
If it’s between 90° and 270° then your garden is south-facing. If you see that north-east is the mid-point’ you will understand that you have a north east facing garden.
How Much Sun Does a NE Facing Garden Get?
A garden that is north-east facing will get sun in the morning and will be shaded in the afternoon. You should expect to get around 3-6 hours of sun per day in a north east facing garden.
However, during the summer months (May-Oct ) in the Northern Hemisphere, you will get some light at the end of a garden until late afternoon/early evening.
During winter, a north-east facing garden will only get sunshine before midday if the garden is small and until approximately 1-2 pm if you have a longer garden.
The sun is generally low in winter but on occasions when it is high you may experience some sun in the morning. Some bungalows may enjoy the sunlight for later into the afternoon long as the structure is not too high.
Benefits of a North East Facing Garden
There are many benefits to having a north-east facing garden, including:
- Rooms at the back of your house will not get too hot during summer
- You will enjoy a cool breeze when back windows are open during warm summer months
- If you have a conservatory the heat will not feel too oppressive during summer
- Your rooms at the front of the house will enjoy natural sunlight during the afternoon
- Children can play safely in the garden without burning from being exposed to the hot sun
- Your garden will be cooler if you do not enjoy hot weather
- Garden furniture will not suffer sun damage
- Your lawn will not suffer sun damage so less chance of patching
- Plants will not scorch from the heat of the sun
- Green shrubs and shaded trees can be easier to maintain
- Pets can enjoy being outdoors during hot summer afternoons
Negatives of a NE Facing Garden
The disadvantages of having a north-east facing garden are:
- The back of the property will be in shade for most of the day
- Your garden will feel cold in the afternoons and you may not be able to sit out at all during the autumn and winter months
- Popular rooms at the back of the house, including the kitchen, will be dark most of the day
- A short north east facing garden will not get any sun at all in winter unless it is a single-story house
- While grass will not scorch in the sun it may not grow healthily due to lack of light all year round. You can use a shade-loving seed to get around this problem.
- You will be restricted on the types of plants that you can grow due to a lack of sunlight
- Plants are only likely to thrive when placed at the back of the garden
- You will find it difficult to grow fruits and vegetables with limited sun
- Moss and algae can become a problem on your lawn and paving due to shady and moist conditions
- Your garden will be prone to waterlogging during heavy rainfall as there is little sun to evaporate the rain
- A swimming pool is not suited to a north-east facing garden unless it is heated
Buying a House with a NE Facing Garden
While a south-facing garden is the most desirable for house buyers it is not always possible to find.
South-facing gardens come with a higher price tag or are more difficult to find on the market. It may also be the case that the area where you want to live or a particular house you want to buy does not have a south-facing garden.
If you are opting for a bungalow you do not need to worry about having a north-east facing garden as it will enjoy good levels of sunlight until late afternoon.
Checking to see what way a garden faces in a house may not be top of your list when viewing houses.
If you do not manage to check how a garden faces be sure to return to the house, perhaps at different times of the day, to ensure you are happy with the level of sunshine—early afternoon is a good time to check.
The vendor or estate agent may be able to assist you with your query. You can also check on Google Maps to see what direction the garden in your desired house faces.
If you enjoy the full sun for most of the day and want to enjoy a lush garden with a variety of plants, you may regret purchasing a non-south facing garden.
If there is a small print garden or driveway you can add plants and seating to this space to enjoy the sun in the afternoon. Avid gardeners will enjoy the challenge of growing plants and flowers in a north-east facing garden as they can be just as beautiful as sunny south-facing gardens.
If you find that the house you want is north-east facing you should not let it put you off as you can still enjoy sunshine across the back of the house and the garden of a morning.
There are lots of things that you can do to make the most out of a north east facing garden so the compromise will pay off.
The garden position is likely to be reflected in the price of the house, so, where you save on the cost of the house you can spend on getting the most out of your outdoor space.
Tips for Making the Most of a NE Facing Garden
When it comes to making the most of a north-east facing garden there are two main factors to consider—understanding shade and maximising sunlight.
If you enjoy gardening and want to brighten your outdoor space you can look for plants, shrubs, and trees that enjoy the shade. Bold coloured garden furniture will also brighten the dull areas of your garden.
Instead of painting fences and walls in traditional brown, green and beige colours opt for bright colours that can take the place of sun-long flowers.
To make the most of the sun that you do get in your garden it is best to situate a patio, decking and garden furniture at the back of the garden where it will be warmer for longer.
To enjoy the optimum sunshine in your garden get outside as early as you can and return indoors as the shade begins to draw in.
Other tips for making the most of a north-east facing garden include:
- Keep bushes and large trees pruned so they do not block out natural light
- If you have a large garden add seating areas throughout so you can enjoy the sun as it moves around the garden
- Colourful window boxes and planters will add a pop of colour if your patio is at the front of your garden
- Paint back doors and gates in a bright colour
- Outdoor rugs are very popular and add colour and pattern to mainly green gardens
- Make your sunny spot as welcoming as possible with bold cushions and blankets
- Reduce the amount of lawn in your north-east facing garden so that the lawn you have can get enough of the nutrients it needs
- Invest in a garden heater or a fire pit to enjoy being outdoors on an evening
- If you need a shed keep it small and in the most shaded part of your garden
- Incorporate lighting into your garden design with lights dotted throughout your garden to create more light
What Plants Are Good for a NE Facing Garden?
Many garden plants thrive in sunlight but each plant has specific needs so you will find that some suit a north-east facing garden.
When searching for plants to suit a north-east facing garden you need those that enjoy wet, damp and shaded areas. Hardy flowers that bloom through limited lighting will be the best option.
Plants that tolerate partial shade work well as they soak up the sun during the morning and can gain respite in the shade during the afternoon.
Good plants for north-east facing gardens include:
- Hardy geraniums (best at the back of the garden)
You can also look for woodland plants that work well in gardens that have lots of shade. You do not need to worry about pale plants fading when you have a north-east facing garden as they will not be in the direct sun long enough.
Vegetables and herbs that grow well in the 3-4 hours of good sun in a north-east facing garden include:
For any plant to grow properly in your garden you need to ensure that you provide adequate conditions.
Soil quality is very important to plants, with some enjoying a boggy terrain and others thriving on dry soil. If your garden is made of clay soil or it does struggle to allow water to evaporate be sure to get suitable plants.
Hydrangea paniculata are good plants for a wet north east facing garden as they soak up a lot of water. Soil enhancers should be used for troublesome soil and, if you have a lawn, ensure the grass is fed regularly for optimum quality.
One advantage of having a north-east facing garden is that once you understand how to look after each of your plants you don’t need to worry about adjusting care for weather changes.
As the temperature of north- east facing gardens vary less than in south facing gardens plants are easier to manage.
To Sum Up
While south-facing gardens enjoy more sunshine and are more sought-after, there is still lots to get excited about with a north-east facing garden.
Getting out into your garden early in the morning, filling it with shade-loving plants and brightly coloured furniture will make your north east facing garden an enjoyable space.
While you can never change the position of the house you buy you can adapt to your garden. Clever planning and garden design will guarantee that you get the most out of your home