A west facing garden will tend to be shaded for a short time during the morning and the early part of the day – but are hot and in full sun during the afternoons and evenings. This can be a great thing if you enjoy basking in the sunshine in your garden after work. But many plants can suffer when they have no shade from the sun during the hottest part of the day.
Like any other garden, a west facing garden has both good elements and bad. But as with most other outside spaces – they can be beautiful and productive when you know what to do. To help you plan and design your space, and choose plants and other features for where you live, here are five gardening tips for a west facing garden:
1. Grow Plenty of Edibles in Your West Facing Garden
Almost any garden can be turned into an edible haven, with plenty of food for you and your family to eat. Since a west facing garden gets the sun for much of the day, it can be an ideal place to position a summer fruit and vegetable garden (or a polytunnel). Make the most of the warm afternoon sun and grow a range of warm-season crops – like tomatoes, squash, courgettes and beans, for example.
2. Choose Plants Which Thrive With Morning Shade and Afternoon Sun
You can grow plenty of ornamental plants too. A well planned west facing garden will look great as well as being productive. Even a west facing border shaded all morning long can be put to good effect. You can grow a wide range of trees, shrubs and perennial plants. Magnolias and Camellias are excellent choices, as are roses, elder, crab apples, fuchsias, and a wide range of flowering perennials that like full sun or partial shade.
3. Add Some Shade To Protect Plants Over the Warm Afternoons
In very warm and sheltered west facing gardens, where lawns or plants have a tendency to wilt in the hot afternoon sun, you could consider planting a fruit tree or other suitable shade tree to provide more varied, dappled shade conditions for other plants. Apple, plum or cherry trees can often be great choices. But there are also plenty of native garden trees you could consider.
4. Use Mulches To Retain Soil Moisture
Another way to mitigate the impact of the hot afternoon sun in a west facing garden is to minimise water loss from the soil by using suitable mulches around any fruits and vegetables you are growing, and any other plants. By reducing evaporation from the soil, and keeping it cooler, you can protect plant roots and the soil ecosystem. You can conserve water too. Add mulches when the weather warms in late spring or early summer to mitigate the worst effects of the hot summer sun.
5. Make The Most of the Evening Sun and Create the Perfect Space To Dine Outdoors
In a west facing garden, it is important to make sure you create a space that you can enjoy – especially towards the tail end of the day. Why not place a pergola or arbour and position grapes, hops, fuchsia or other plants to climb it? Place a table and chairs beneath it and you could have the perfect place for alfresco dining. You could also embrace the evening sun and create a sunny patio area, with dwarf fruit trees, herbs within easy reach, and fragrant plants like lavender to enjoy.
These are just a few tips to help you design and enjoy your west facing garden. There can be challenges in such a garden, as there can in any other. But there is also always plenty to be thankful for. When we embrace what we have, we can choose the right plants and the right features for the right places and make them into the relaxing, beautiful and productive places that they can be.
Do you have a west facing garden? Which plants do you grow there? How do you use it? Share your own experiences, tips and suggestions to help others in the same situation 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.