North East Facing Garden: Advantages and Disadvantages

Gardening is an art that intertwines with the science of nature, and the orientation of a garden plays a crucial role in its overall health and beauty. Among the various orientations, a northeast-facing garden holds a unique position, offering a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages that can significantly influence the gardening experience.

Understanding these aspects is essential for homeowners, garden enthusiasts, and landscape designers to make informed decisions and optimize the use of their garden space. This article delves into the nuances of a northeast-facing garden, exploring its benefits and challenges, and providing practical insights to harness its potential fully.

Understanding Garden Orientation

Garden orientation refers to the direction in which a garden faces or is positioned relative to the points of the compass. A northeast-facing garden is one where the primary area of the garden is oriented towards the northeast. This orientation significantly impacts the amount of sunlight and shade the garden receives throughout the day and across different seasons.

Sunlight is a vital factor in gardening, influencing plant growth, flowering patterns, and the overall microclimate of the garden. A northeast orientation typically means the garden will bask in morning sunlight but will be shadier in the afternoon and evening. This pattern of sun and shade creates a unique environment that shapes the choice of plants and the types of activities best suited to the garden.

Advantages of North-East Facing Gardens

  1. Sunny Mornings:
    • Gardens facing northeast enjoy abundant sunlight in the early hours of the day. This early sun exposure is gentle, making it ideal for a variety of plants, particularly those that require sunlight but are prone to damage under intense afternoon heat.
    • Morning sunlight is also beneficial for gardening activities. Gardeners can work in the pleasant morning light without the discomfort of the midday sun, making it a perfect time for maintenance tasks like weeding, planting, or watering.
  2. Ideal for Shade-Loving Plants:
    • The shaded conditions in the afternoon are perfect for plants that thrive in lower light conditions. Species like snowdrops, bellflowers, foxgloves, and bleeding heart plants can flourish in these gardens, adding diversity and beauty.
    • This environment also encourages biodiversity, attracting a variety of insects and birds, particularly pollinators like bees, which are vital for a healthy garden ecosystem.
  3. Cooler Summer Temperatures:
    • The reduced exposure to the harsh afternoon sun keeps north-east facing gardens cooler during hot summer months. This cooler environment is more comfortable for spending time outdoors and is beneficial for plants that might suffer from heat stress.
    • The milder temperatures also make these gardens ideal for relaxed outdoor activities, such as reading, picnics, or leisurely afternoons spent enjoying the natural ambiance.

Each of these advantages highlights the unique possibilities offered by a northeast-facing garden, demonstrating that with the right approach, this orientation can be a boon rather than a hindrance to gardening success.

Disadvantages of North-East Facing Gardens

  1. Limited Sunbathing and Pool Use:
    • One of the significant drawbacks of a north-east-facing garden is the limited opportunity for activities that require prolonged sun exposure, such as sunbathing or hosting pool parties. As these gardens receive less direct sunlight, especially in the afternoon, they are not the ideal choice for sun-seekers.
    • Homeowners with a preference for sun-intensive outdoor activities may need to find alternative ways to enjoy their garden space, considering shaded seating areas or focusing on activities that are less dependent on direct sunlight.
  2. Decreasing Sunlight Through the Day:
    • As the day progresses, the amount of sunlight a north-east-facing garden receives decreases significantly. This pattern requires careful planning for plant placement, ensuring that plants needing more sunlight are located in areas that receive morning light.
    • The changing light patterns can also affect how the garden is used throughout the day. Areas that are sunny in the morning may become shaded in the afternoon, impacting leisure activities or the overall enjoyment of the garden at different times.
  3. Winter Challenges:
    • During winter, northeast-facing gardens may face the challenge of receiving little to no sun, especially in regions with shorter daylight hours. This lack of sunlight can inhibit the growth of certain plants and affect the overall vibrancy of the garden.
    • Garden planning for colder seasons becomes crucial in such orientations. Selecting plants that can bloom in shaded conditions or are hardy enough to withstand lower light levels is essential to maintaining a lively garden year-round.

Challenges with Sunrooms and Patios

Sunrooms and patios in north-east gardens face unique challenges due to their limited exposure to sunlight. These areas, often designed as sunny retreats, might not serve their intended purpose effectively:

  • Reduced Sunlight for Sunrooms: For those envisioning a sun-drenched space to relax or grow sun-loving plants, a northeast orientation may fall short of expectations. The limited afternoon sunlight can make sunrooms less inviting and functional as originally planned.
  • Patio Use Limitations: Patios in these gardens may not be ideal for activities like outdoor dining or lounging in the sun, especially in the afternoon and evening. This limitation requires creative use of these spaces, such as transforming them into cozy evening retreat areas with suitable lighting and heating options.

The challenges associated with sunrooms and patios in northeast-facing gardens highlight the need for adaptive design and usage strategies. Embracing the natural patterns of light and shade can lead to innovative and enjoyable outdoor living spaces, even within the constraints of limited sunlight.

Gardening Tips for North-East Facing Gardens

Gardening in a northeast-facing garden requires a strategic approach to make the most of its unique characteristics. Here are some practical tips:

  • Selecting the Right Plants:
  • Choose plants that thrive in partial shade or can tolerate limited sunlight. This includes both flowering plants and foliage varieties that can add color and texture to your garden.
  • Consider planting early bloomers that can take advantage of the spring sun, such as snowdrops or crocuses.
  • Utilizing Garden Layout:
  • Plan your garden layout to maximize the use of sunlight. Place sun-loving plants in areas that receive morning light, and reserve shadier spots for plants that prefer less sun.
  • Create different zones in your garden for various activities, such as a sunny spot for a morning coffee area and a shaded area for relaxing in the afternoon.
  • Soil and Water Management:
  • Since these gardens can be cooler and shadier, ensure the soil retains enough warmth and moisture for optimal plant growth.
  • Regularly monitor the soil’s moisture level, as shaded areas may require less frequent watering.


A north-east facing garden, with its unique interplay of light and shade, presents both challenges and opportunities for the discerning gardener. While it may not cater to the needs of sun-seekers or certain sun-loving plants, it offers a serene sanctuary for shade-tolerant flora and cooler, comfortable outdoor environments. Embracing this orientation requires adaptability and creativity, from choosing the right plants to strategically planning the garden layout. By doing so, one can transform these perceived limitations into a lush, vibrant space that thrives throughout the year, providing a tranquil and beautiful haven for both people and wildlife.