A north facing garden can certainly be something of a challenge, since much of it may remain in shade throughout much of the day. But don’t let a challenge put you off. Even a shady north facing garden can be a productive and abundant space. It could be somewhere with plenty of beautiful and edible plants, that you can enjoy throughout the year. These gardening tips should help you make the most of your north facing garden, and avoid any issues that could occur:
1. Determine Whether You Have Damp Shade or Dry Shade
The first thing that it is important to understand is that there are different kinds of shade. North facing gardens will generally be shaded. But it is important to determine whether that is damp shade or dry shade. Which one you have will play an important role in determining which plants it will be best for you to grow. Moisture levels in the soil and light levels are equally crucial in determining plant choices. As in any garden, it is important to choose the right plants for the right places.
2. Choose Shade-Tolerant Plants Suitable For Your Area
There are certain plants often recommended for shady areas – including a range of ferns, for example. But another thing to bear in mind that the plants perfect for one north facing garden may not be equally perfect for another. As well as thinking about light, shade and soil moisture, it is also important to think about other characteristics of your garden – such as soil type and soil pH, for example. And the micro-climate as well as the broader climate zone. It is important not to get bogged down by the direction your garden in facing. Instead, you should think about the garden wholistically, as you would do any other site.
3. Embrace Spring Ephemerals (Spring Flowering Bulbs)
Spring flowering bulbs are one great plant type to embrace in a north facing garden. Shade-loving bulbs like snowdrops, bluebells and other woodland species are ideal for many north facing situations. And these spring ephemerals, as they are sometimes called, are not just good choices by default. Spring flowering bulbs are a great choice for many gardens because they gather and store nutrients early in the season. They also attract pollinators and so can be beneficial for most home growers.
4. Don’t Forget Edibles That Can Grow in the Shade of a North Facing Garden
Many gardeners make the mistake of thinking that because they have a north facing garden, they cannot have a kitchen garden, or grow fruits and vegetables and other edible crops. But while certain edibles will do best with full sun, there are still plenty of edibles you can grow in the shade in a north facing garden.
For example, hostas are one of the most frequently mentioned shade tolerant plants. And these are not only ornamentals. They are also a very useful leaf vegetable and top edible crop. And there are plenty of other leafy green vegetables that can grow with far less light than you might imagine. Think about growing, for example, green such as rocket, kale, chard, spinach and sorrel… to name but a few.
5. Plant Shade-Tolerant Plants For all the Senses for a North Facing Garden
In a shady north facing garden, sourcing those plants that can provide some bright and cheery splashes of colour is particularly important. You might, for example, have spring bulbs, then rhododendrons providing colour in the spring… then other shade tolerant flowers blooming throughout the rest of the year. But colour is not the only thing to add visual interest. It is also important to consider how texture can also add interest in a shady north facing spot.
And you should also consider how you can choose plants to provide stimulation for the other senses too – not just sight. Think about planting some fragrant shade tolerant plants, and plenty of foliage to move in the breeze and create an auditory impression.
These are just a few tips to help you plan your north facing garden. Remember, deeply shaded areas can be tricky. But that does not mean that you should give up on them. There are plenty of things you can try.
Do you have tips for a north facing garden? Share them in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.