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How do you work it out ????

hello, how do you work out which way your garden faces ??? A few years ago I borrowed a compass from a friend but was completely stumped. I still don't know which way the garden faces. I've asked my OH and he hasn't a clue either. Please can you give me a really simple way of working it out because my sense of direction is awful and I'm not very good at complicated instructions. thanks 


  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,311
    the sun rises in the east, is in the south at about midday snd sets in the west. The arc is smaller in winter but south is about where the sun is at midday. If you stand with your back to the house and look at the sun at midday, that is south. 

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • shazza 3shazza 3 Posts: 197
    ok i'll try that when the weather improves later in the week. thanks 
  • BenCottoBenCotto Posts: 4,501
    Do you have an iPad? You can load a simple compass app which will show you the direction you are facing. I’m sure there must be something similar for a smart phone.

    Note, if I am in my house looking out of the back window at the rear garden I am looking North. If I go into the garden and look back at the house I am looking South. It is a South facing garden.
    Rutland, England
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,764
    It is an odd phrase - an unshaded flat piece of ground doesn't face in any direction. It ony makes any sense when there is something obstructing sunlight like buildings or trees or if the ground slopes in one direction.
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 9,627
    Another way to think of it is to look at where the shadow of your house falls at different times of day (not the shade from other nearby buildings). If your house casts its shadow over the garden in the morning, it faces West(ish), mid-afternoon-evening East(ish), hardly any shadow from your house falling on the garden, South-facing.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • borgadrborgadr Posts: 682
    Check where the sun is at 1pm in summer time (or midday winter time). That's south. Even if you're quite far west of the meridian. In the extreme, Cornwall is about 5 degrees West, so solar midday is about 20 minutes later than in London (around 1.20pm in summer).

    The sun rises precisely in the east and sets precisely in the West only at the equinox (late March and late September).
  • Google maps?
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,012
    @BenCotto has described the way a garden is defined, so if you were buying or selling, that's how you'll see a garden listed.
    Monitoring the sun is an easy way to determine east through south to west, so that's the first thing to do. In the middle of the day, the sun is at it's highest point, so it should be fairly easy to determine south. Bear in mind that even if you have a south facing garden, you have variations within that, as with any aspect. Generally speaking, one 'boundary' will be north facing, one will be east, and one will be west. 
    However, as the others have also said,  there are other factors which affect the plot- buildings, trees, hedges etc, so from a gardening point of view, those have to be considered when planting. They will also determine how much light you get in winter months. 
    A south facing plot can still have a lot of shade, depending on what's there   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • shazza 3shazza 3 Posts: 197
    hello everyone and thanks for all the replies. my mind is boggling !!! the only shadow we get (and it's not that big) is from the house around about now (3pm ish) and that's from the kitchen which is an extension. If the previous owners hadn't extended the kitchen we wouldn't get any shadow at all. The shadow falls over the paved area outside the kitchen and the rest of the garden gets no shadows at all. Although we cannot see the sea from the house now, if there were no buildings in front of us and we were slightly higher up, we could see the sea from the front of the house. The sun is  around the front of the house now so I'm assuming that we have a south facing garden ???  
  • Balgay.HillBalgay.Hill Posts: 1,008
    edited August 2022
    An easy way to roughly find out direction is to use an analogue watch.
    Point the hour hand at the sun, and split the difference between the hour hand and 12 o'clock on the watch and that is South.
    Sunny Dundee
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