A south facing garden will get plenty of sun. In fact, it can get a little too much sun for certain plants. However, generally speaking, south facing gardens are the ideal. They are a great place for a polytunnel and a great place to grow outdoors. They get plenty of sun throughout the day and can allow you to grow a wide range of different plants – including plenty of edible options.
1. Create a Water-Wise South Facing Garden
The key issue with south facing gardens is that they can tend to dry out more quickly. Due to the high light levels, they can lose water from soil and through plants more speedily than gardens which have shade for more of the day. And while the conditions can be ideal for sun-loving plants, those that prefer moister and shadier conditions will be more of a challenge to grow.
In a south facing garden, where there are warm and sunny conditions, it is more important than ever to make sure that you create a water-wise garden. Make sure you collect rainwater to use on your plants. Mulch well around plants in your growing areas to retain soil moisture. And use ground cover plants and cover crops to reduce moisture loss.
2. Choose Sun Loving Plants
As in any garden, the key to gardening in a south-facing garden is choosing the right plants for the right places. Embrace the conditions you have, working with nature rather than fighting it. If you try to grow shade-loving plants in full sun, they will not do as well as plants better suited to the conditions you have.
3. Make the Most of the Opportunity to Grow Fruits and Other Edibles
A south facing garden can be ideal to grow a wide range of fruits and other edible crops. While you can grow a number of edibles in the shade, fruit trees, fruit bushes and a number of other edibles will grow and produce best in full sun.
A south facing wall provides the ideal warmth and protection for fruit trees. It could provide you with the opportunity to grow fruit trees that might not ordinary grow very well where you live. For example, a sheltered and sunny south facing wall could be the ideal location to place a peach or apricot tree, a fig tree, or an olive tree, in more southern parts of the UK. Of course, apples, pears, cherries and other traditional fruit trees for our climate will also thrive in such a location.
In front of and beneath fruit trees pleached or espaliered against a south facing wall, plant cardoons, globe artichokes, yarrow, borage, lavender, alliums, and Mediterranean herbs like thyme, oregano and marjoram, which will enjoy the relatively dry, sunny and warm conditions.
4. Consider Creating Some Shade in Very Dry and Warm South Facing Gardens
If a south facing garden is baked and dried out too much by the summer sun, judiciously creating some shade for some of the space may be a good idea. Shade trees can cast dappled shade and can reduce water loss. The dappled shade they provide can be great for humans looking to enjoy the space, and may also increase the range of plants you are able to grow.
In addition to considering fruit and nut trees, you might also consider other ornamental shade trees. A sheltered south facing garden might be the ideal place to consider some more exotic and unusual varieties – such as hardy palms and other trees not usually suitable for our cooler temperate climate. You may even be able to give your garden a tropical feel.
5. Consider Alternatives to a Grass Lawn for a South Facing Garden
A south facing garden can be a gardening paradise. But sometimes you may find, if you have a lawn, that it turns brown in very sunny south facing spots in hot summer weather. If you have this problem, think about choosing alternatives to grass if you still want a lawn area. For example, you could consider making a chamomile lawn. Or replacing lawn with low-growing herbs like thyme to create ground cover for areas that do not experience heavy traffic.
Sedums and other succulents could also work well as ground cover in a south facing garden. You might even use such plants to make a green roof on south facing garden structures like bin-stores or garden sheds.
These are just a few tips to help you with your south facing garden. Of course, every garden is unique, and the conditions that prevail in your south facing garden might differ even from those of your immediate neighbours. There are a lot of different things to consider.
But learning more about your garden, including which way it faces and how much sun it gets, is one of the first steps in creating the perfect garden for where you live.
Do you have a south facing garden? Share your experiences and suggestions 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.