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North facing fears


 You have all been so immensely helpful as we renovate our former paved backyard into what will hopefully be a cottage garden with lawn. 

 As Spring arrives, I'm starting to worry that it will receive less sun than we thought. The garden is 9m / 30 ft long and faces NNE.  Our house is a small standard 2 storey Victorian terrace, but don't know the height.

When we were buying the place, we used an online sun calculator and made 3-D renders of the sun moving over the house.  This is because having a NNE facing garden was almost a deal breaker for me!  However, we thought that we would get an angle of breakfast sun on the patio (just out of shot) and afternoon sun for most of the back of the garden in peak summer.

The below photo was taken at 2 PM on March 3rd.  I know I'm being dense, but the houses either side of us had sun when we did not. Every odd numbered house like us was in the shade - why?  Have we unfortunately found a position that is just out of the sun's reach?

We knew the front of the garden would be in the shade, but we thought that each bed would get some sun, and that we'd get a good chunk of lawn to sunbathe on.  Now it's only March, so I'm possibly being paranoid, but would love to know if we will get Spring & Summer sun. ????????



  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,645

    Just trying to understand the shadow I can see. The fence on the right side of the picture. Where that meets your house wall, is the ridge line of your roof in line with the fence? Can you take a photo the other way, of the back of your house, including the roof? Or draw a little picture

    Last edited: 06 March 2017 21:19:00

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • SandTSandT Posts: 70

    Here is the back in mid May, before we got the garden back to basics. Victorian houses have a back extension with a pitched roof that's perpendicular to the main pitched roof. You 'share' the back extension roof with your next neighbour, in this case, the one with the umbrella.


  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 13,704

    There are plenty of shade loving plants.

    You don't have a problem, you have an opportunity, you can make anywhere look beautiful.

    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,024

    My garden faces NE and also slopes in that direction.  At this time of year we get little sun - just at the furthest point; but in summer, with the sun a lot higher, we get sun for much of the day on our lawn.  There's very little of the garden which gets no sun at all.

    I think you'll find there's much more sun later in the year.  And, as Punkdoc says, the bits of garden which are shady will also be beautiful, just with different plants.  image

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • SandTSandT Posts: 70

    Yes, I need some shady, hardy plant ideas for both border structure, front and cover.

    Liriodendron - how long is your garden though? Worries that as ours is only 30 ft from the kitchen window you see, that we won't get much at all.

    Last edited: 06 March 2017 22:19:09

  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,024

    Verdun is right (of course!) - these plants which prefer shade to sun, are just as beautiful as the sun-lovers, and you are genuinely lucky to be able to grow them in part of your garden.

    SandT, my garden is not a standard arrangement... I'm in the Pennines, in a terraced house facing NE with a narrow unmade road in front.  My garden is the other side of the road, down 15 steps, and is much wider than it is long; my neighbours don't have gardens so mine is the width of 3 terraced houses but only about 8m in the NE-SW direction.  On the north side is the retaining wall down which the steps go, and the whole thing slopes about 2m from top to bottom.  This is a photo taken from the top of the steps in June, facing NW, and as you can see it's entirely in sun.


    This is the eastern end of the garden taken at the same time, facing NE.  You can see the fence at the end of the garden.  The gravel nearest you is at the bottom of the retaining wall.  The top of the bank here is the shadiest place, though in this photo it's in sun; it has hellebores, epimedium, lamium orvala, primulas, meconopsis etc and they are happy having a bit more shade.  image


    Hope this is a bit reassuring...

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • LG_LG_ Posts: 4,107

    As Liri said above, things will be different in the summer. We have a north-facing garden too (rather longer than yours), and at this time of year half the garden gets no sun at all. It won't be long before it starts to creep nearer the house. It never actually reaches the house, but is within about three or four feet in midsummer. Don't panic! (And make the most of the shade you have, too).

    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,645

    If your garden is exactly the length of the shadow in early March, roughly two thirds of your garden will be in sun at the same time (making adjustments for daylight saving) in June.

    In winter the sun rises probably roughly parallel to the end of the terrace, so you won't get any sun on the back of the house at all, but in mid summer it rises in the northeast - you'll most likely get a couple of hours of sunshine into your back windows every morning for a few weeks (unless there's a tree along the road that shades you).

    The reason the odd number houses are in shadow - assuming all the back extensions are roughly the same size and shape as yours - is the angle of the roofs of the extensions. When the sun is highest, it's slightly to the left of the ridge line as you look at the back of the house. So the garden to the left will get sunlight coming over the main terrace ridge and the low corner of the extension, whereas for the odds, the sun is behind the highest point of the extension roof. Later in the day, the situation will reverse and the odds will get sun when the evens don't. But at this time of year, the sun angle is too low, so it's dropped below the main terrace ridge line before it gets to you. 

    My guess would be that in mid summer - mid May to mid July - your back garden will be in sun in the morning until about 9am and then shaded for a couple of hours. By midday at least half will be back in sunlight for 3 or 4 hours (and for longer than your 'even' neighbour), then shaded again as the sun drops below the main terrace roofs. Very probably for a week or two in mid June, you'll get another late hour of sunlight just before sunset, as long as there isn't a tall building or tree along the row to the west.

    So plant a few sun-lovers on that back fence and put your terrace down where your neighbour has. In a few weeks it'll be a lovely little sun trap down there image

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,024

    Raisingirl, thanks for that!  I couldn't think of a way of explaining about the shadows without waving my hands about...  image

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
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