Climate to Consider When Designing Your Garden
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Published by TOP4 Team
A comfortable garden needs a balance between sun and shade, through the day and through the year, and once you know which way your property faces you can plan for it quite easily.
We all know of course that the sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and is at its highest at noon, when except in the tropics, it’s never quite overhead but somewhere to the north. This is why the north side of the house gets the sun and the south side is in its own shade for most of the year. But not in summer, because the summer sunrise and sunset are quite a bit to the south of an east-west line. This means that at midsummer the hot afternoon sun will hit your ‘shady’ south side patio at about 3 p.m. and stay there for the rest of the day, upsetting any shade-loving plants growing there.
Conversely, the winter sun moves to the north and doesn’t rise so high; shadows are longer, and that spot you chose in December for the vegetable garden because it was so sunny may turn out to get no winter sun at all and precious little in autumn and spring.
The Ideal Aspect
The Ideal aspect for outdoor living is the north or north-east side of the house, where the winter sun is assured. An area of pavement here can reflect its warmth to the house but you’ll need to provide shade for the summer. You could rig up awnings or sun umbrellas but the shade of trees is cooler (the constant transpiration of water from their leaves acts as a natural air conditioner). Deciduous trees let the winter sun through their bare branches; plant them on the east for the early winter sun. Evergreens can go to the south, and maybe on the west also, as in a hot climate the afternoon sun is rarely welcome.
Shading the house
Tall trees shading the roof can make quite a difference to your comfort inside, and large areas of glass cry out for shade. Remember, once the sun gets into your rooms, so does the heat. If shade trees will dominate the garden too much, don’t forget the climate-control device of the vine-covered pergola. Pergolas needn’t always be attached to the house but can be positioned in the garden too.