Benefitting from shade in the morning and sun from the early afternoon to the evening, west-facing gardens are one of the better garden types for planting beautiful plants and vegetables.
Not sure which way your garden faces? Stand outside your outside wall with a compass (or a compass app!) and stand with your back against the outer wall. The way you’re facing according to your compass is the way your garden faces! Another tip is that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so this can help you to better understand the direction of your garden.
Below, we look at some tips for planting and growing in a west-facing garden.
Prepare in advance
One of the best tips for planting and growing (in general!) is to prepare in advance. Most plants mentioned in this article will take several months to bloom, and will need to be planted in the autumn ready for the sunny summer months next year.
If you can, spend a few days understanding the shadows cast in the early and late morning onto your garden by your house, big trees and neighbouring homes. This will give you an idea of the sunniest places in your garden, as well as the areas which will most frequently be in the shade: helping you calculate the best places to plant your blooms and to work out where your vegetable patch should go.
Find the right plants for your garden
Looking after a west-facing garden means choosing plants that flourish in the heat, particularly as your garden will have extended sunny and warm hours. In the same vein, west-facing gardens often expose plants to the wind, so it’s important to grow strong and sturdy plants that can handle the temperamental British weather!
Below, we share a few options for plants that thrive in west-facing gardens. Be mindful of any areas that are in the shade more often due to the shadow of your house or next-door neighbours.
Daffodils are the perfect plant to grow in full or partial sunlight. For the typical yellow-petalled daffodil, look for the Golden Ducat variety which thrives in gardens with plenty of sunlight or partially shady environments. For the more shady areas of your garden, try the Petit Four which has white petals and can grow up to 16 inches in height. Plant your daffodil bulbs in September-time to see them bloom in the spring!
Magnolias thrive in full sun and part shade conditions, making them the ideal plant to grow in a west-facing garden. They’re also hardy, so they’re able to handle wind and other changes in temperature.
Magnolias vary in style from tiny shrubs to large trees, meaning you can choose a magnolia to suit the space you have available.
A low-maintenance, evergreen shrub, camellias are the perfect addition to a garden. Initially, they thrive in part-shady conditions and then in full sun once the roots have grown.
There are two main types of camellia that will flower at different times of the year. The Camellia sasanqua flowers in the autumn and winter months, while the Camellia japonica and Camellia williamsii flower in the winter and early spring months, adding a colourful addition to your garden when it may be at its most bare.
Growing a west-facing vegetable patch
A vegetable patch is a beautiful addition to gardens of all sizes. As well as producing wonderful smells, successful veggie patches will give you a range of delicious treats to enjoy throughout the summer months.
One key consideration when planning your vegetable patch is sunlight and shade. As west-facing gardens experience a combination of shade, partial shade and full sun, it’s important to plant vegetables that will thrive in these environments.
As one of the better garden types for full sunlight, west-facing gardens are perfect for planting vegetables which need 6-8 hours in the sun each day to thrive. Take a look at some tasty options for planting below:
If you’ve got the space, potatoes are the perfect addition to a west-facing garden vegetable patch. They need about an inch of water a week, and plenty of room to grow with loose soil. They usually take about a few months to grow to full maturity, so Easter is often a great time to get started, after the last frost.
If you’re a fan of baby potatoes, these will be ready to harvest after ten weeks or so. For full-sized potatoes, leave them for between 90-100 days, once the vines have died.
Peppers take a little more prep work, but are worth the wait! When it comes to growing peppers at home, controlling temperatures in the first few weeks is crucial.
Start by planting your seeds indoors and within a couple of weeks, you should start to see small signs of growth. Once they’ve reached a few inches in height, you can start to harden the seeds by introducing them to the outside for a couple of hours or so each day. Once the warm weather arrives, your plants should be around 20cm tall, and they can be moved to your warm and cosy outdoor patch.
A staple in every home vegetable patch, tomatoes thrive in warm temperatures.
Grow your tomatoes in parallel with your peppers: start indoors with seeds in early spring, and move them outside in May after the last frost. With the hours of sunlight from your garden, you’ll have a beautiful crop of tomatoes in no-time, perfect for a sunny summertime salad!
Start planting today!
Having a west-facing garden has a wonderful range of benefits. To maximise your planting and growing efforts, be sure to:
- Plan well in advance
- Calculate the sunniest and shadiest spots in your garden
- Grow sturdy plants that thrive in sunlight
- Choose vegetables that enjoy 6-8 hours of sun
And most importantly, have fun! Planting and growing your own plants and vegetables should be a fun and fulfilling experience, so try to enjoy the process!