Ideas for north-facing gardens to make the most of a shaded outdoor space

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  • South-facing gardens have the advantage of being sunnier, and therefore tend to be more desirable. However, owning a home with a north-facing garden no longer means having to compromise on a beautifully lush outdoor space.

    “South-facing gardens feature high on many house hunters’ wish lists, but there is still a lot that can be grown and thrived in north-facing gardens, with careful preparation and planning.” , advises Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director, Dobbies Garden Centers.

    For more expert advice, visit our garden channel for ideas and inspiration for all outdoor spaces.

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    A variety of plants have been introduced to the UK gardening scene that don’t require a lot of sun, making them better suited to north-facing gardens.

    “Just by taking the time to learn about plants that thrive in a low-sun environment, it’s surprisingly easy to create a thriving garden,” says Chris Bonnett of Gardening Express. Read on to find out how to best get a thriving plot, even when your garden is mostly in the shade.

    North facing garden ideas for a thriving outdoor space

    1. Know your shade

    Hostas planted at the edge of the garden

    Image credit: Michelle Garrett

    It is important to understand the type of shade that envelops your garden, in order to identify the best way to deal with it.

    “For some there may be only light shade in the open sky but no direct sunlight, while others may have deep shade due to dense forest canopy. Taking the time to do this will make the process of choosing the right plants a bit easier. Some plants like the Hosta family thrive in light shade, while the “soft shield” fern can bloom in dry shade with little to no sun, ”advises Chris.

    2. Take advantage of natural light


    Image credit: Tim Young

    Any obstruction to sunlight should be removed, including trees or structures to maximize light levels. “Remove a layer of leaves from a particular dense canopy to do this, or consider lowering towering hedges that can block the light,” suggests Chris.

    3. Create more light

    Patio with mirror small garden ideas David Still

    Image credit: David Still

    If your garden is lacking in light, try creating your own with a few tips of the trade. There are clever ways to create a “false” light in the garden. A popular method is to install a pond. The water will reflect the light if necessary. For a cheaper option, consider adding mirrors to an outhouse or decor pieces that will use the little light.

    Read more: Garden mirror ideas to flood gardens with a small ray of light

    4. Choose plants that grow in the shade

    north facing gardens

    Image credit: Amateur gardening

    It is important to understand that different plants have different needs. Some require large amounts of sun and thrive in dry conditions. Others only thrive in shady, moist areas, perfect for planting in north-facing gardens.

    “Try to plant flowers that do well in limited light conditions often reserved for winter like snowdrops or cyclamen coum which are revered for their hardy properties. “

    5. Improve the soil

    the dangers of the garden

    Image credit: Oliver Gordon

    Help plants thrive by obtaining the most suitable soil for their needs. Marcus advises: “Improve the quality of the soil to promote plant growth. Add manure and gravel if the soil does not drain well.

    6. Think about lawn care

    north facing garden ideas

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    The majority of whole turf grasses will require a large amount of sunlight and without them they can eventually deteriorate and become prone to disease. Therefore, extra care is needed to prevent the lawn from becoming sparse due to lack of sunlight.

    “Make sure the grass is fed and doesn’t cut too often, or consider putting a favorable kind of grass in shade. Such as those in the Fescue family, all of which are incredibly adaptable to different amounts of shade.

    7. Grow your own herbs

    Garden trends

    Image credit: Simon Bevan

    Dobbies expert Marcus recommends growing conditions for herbs. “Create an herb garden,” he suggests, “Although Mediterranean herbs like full sun, there are a number of herbs that will thrive in partial shade, such as chives, cilantro, parsley and arugula, allowing you to purchase local picks. “

    8. Liven up the space with sunny yellow

    North facing garden with yellow painted wall and potted plants

    Image credit: Dobbies

    Welcome a splash of bright yellow to your north-facing garden to replace the sun. Painting a wall or fence is a quick option that provides maximum impact for a backdrop of lush greenery. Alternatively, you can incorporate this sunny hue with furniture and accessories.

    Outdoor Living buyer at Dobbies, Lynsey Abbott explains, “The bright and uplifting tone of yellow works great outdoors. Naturally suitable for the garden, it is rooted in the color of nature – reminiscent of warm spring days, golden daffodils and merry sunflowers. Versatile and timeless, it fits easily into any outdoor space. Whatever the weather, this shade will help bathe your garden in sunshine! ‘ ideal for shady gardens in need of truth!

    9. Choose a soft neutral for harsh landscaping

    Garden-without-grass-ideas-gravel with pallet benches

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Darker gardens need all the help they can get to feel brighter, keep this in mind when choosing hard landscaping. Choosing lighter sandstone or gravel for a patio or deck will help keep the space from being flat and even darker. Keep all color choices bright to improve light quality.

    10. Go fake for a perfect lawn


    Image credit: Carpetright

    In a garden that is more lacking in direct sunlight, artificial turf may be the best option. This very modern way of grassing a garden requires no element of sunlight to maintain a Wimbledon-esque look all year round.

    11. Create a shaded area for children to play.

    garden playground for children

    Image credit: Joanna Henderson

    A shady garden isn’t that bad, it has the added benefit of additional shelter and shade for kids and pets to play during the long hot summers.

    12. Gather around a fire to warm up


    Image credit: Tim Young

    A predominantly shaded garden needs all the help it can get to accommodate the heat, as it cannot respond to the sun for warmth. A fireplace is always a welcome addition to the garden, but even more so in a shady north-facing garden.

    “Extend the time spent enjoying the garden by adding a fireplace or fireplace,” suggests Marcus. “Adding a little warmth to milder afternoons and evenings will create a cozy and inviting place. “

    13. Adopt shade for perfect cooking conditions

    Image Credit: WWOO Outdoor Kitchen by Garden House Design

    The north-facing gardens are ideal for outdoor cooking while respecting the cooking conditions. They might not be the best place to bask in the sun over a friendly barbecue, but we say embrace the silver lives.

    Hege Lundh, Marketing Director at Lundhs, explains why shade gardens, or areas that come up with garden shade ideas like pergolas, are the place to be: “The outdoor kitchen should not be fully exposed to the sun and, if possible, find the least windy area.

    A secluded spot in the garden, preferably closer to the house, should work well for most garden settings.

    14. Think about smart garden lighting

    garden lighting ideas with uplighters

    Image credit: Brent Darby

    Help light up the darker garden space with thoughtful lighting. “In a north-facing garden clever garden lighting ideas are a must,” advises Marcus. ‘Solar stakes to trace a path to lanterns and candles’. After dark, this garden shines as bright as that of a sunny south-facing garden.

    15. Make furniture mobile


    Image credit: Robert Sanderson

    Make the most of all the sun the garden gets by having the freedom to easily move furniture around throughout the day – chasing the sun! A simple and lightweight set will allow you to move around easily.

    Which plants are best for north facing gardens?

    “The right plant, in the right place – make sure you select the right plants or they won’t give you the results you’re looking for,” says Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director, Dobbies Garden Centers. “Just because there is less sun doesn’t mean your garden needs to be less exciting or that it lacks color and interest. As you would with any room in your home, planning is key to helping your garden reach its full potential.

    He recommends the following plants for more shaded gardens:

    • Hardy Ferns – ‘Beautiful calm green foliage. Perfect for shade gardens, lush leafy ferns paired with camellias will create an oriental garden feel for your own space of calm and zen on the doorstep. gray tint that looks painted with flashes of silver and purple. Growing horizontally rather than vertically, these hardy plants will line the soil with a layer of texture and color. ‘
    • Pyracantha – ‘White evergreen summer flowers and autumn berries.’
    • Viburnum tinus – ‘White, evergreen winter flowers.’
    • Clematis alpina – ‘Spring flowers normally tilting bell-shaped in blue.’
    • Forget-me-nots – “Showering colorful gardens in the spring, the classic blue forget-me-not can tolerate both full sun and partial shade and grows best in moist, shady areas, which often grow near streams and streams. under the woods. Performing well as a filler plant, they will thrive in any type of soil as long as it is moist but well-drained. ‘
    • Camellias – “Bringing color to shaded areas, these striking evergreen plants work well in containers or as large, impressive garden plants. These usually flower best in partial shade and are best planted in the fall after the soil has warmed up during the summer months but before the bitter cold of winter. ‘