Sitting outside in the sunshine is one of the many pleasures of summer. Plants need the sun’s light as much as we do. Its nourishing sunbeams providing the energy needed for your garden to flourish and grow.
Unfortunately you can’t change the orientation of your house in order to achieve maximum light exposure for your garden. The truth is, a north-facing garden will always be a north-facing garden.
Not all is lost! There are some things you can do that will help you increase the amount of light your garden gets.
Paint the walls white
Take a look at your garden. Do you have an old wall? Or any timber structures like sheds, pergolas, or rose arches?
A tidy tip is to paint them white or cream!
This easy transformation is particularly effective on south-facing surfaces.
The white surfaces will reflect and diffuse light in many different directions. This will be a benefit to nearby plants and will immediately brighten up your garden.
Choose your hard landscaping materials carefully
The colour of your paving is something to think about if you are going to lay down a path or patio. Use a warm, pale honey-colour. Avoid dark grey or khaki, or slate chipping. Darker colours do not reflect as much light and in a dark garden they can look quite depressing, especially when wet.
Highlight with plants
A shade garden can be brightened with the use of white flowers and variegated foliage. This will only create the illusion of light but as dusk falls white begins to stand out.
Mirrors are a popular way to create the illusion of space in a garden but they will also reflect light and heat from the sun. Mounting a mirror in the brightest section of your garden and directing it towards the darkest area is a great way to improve the light your garden gets.
Do not use a magnifying mirror, or direct multiple mirrors to the same spot, as you may accidentally set fire to the neighbours fence!
Use nature’s mirror: water reflections
A water feature like a pond or fountain can be a great way to spread light around your garden. Water ebbs, flows, and ripples, reflecting light in ever-changing ways. A well-thought-out water feature can be a fantastic addition to your garden, even the focal point.
Install a glass garden sculpture
Why not reflect light around your garden by installing a glass garden sculpture? Incorporate coloured glass and you will add some year-round colour to your garden too,
Before investing in a glass garden sculpture make sure you consider the possibility of overhead limbs falling in bad weather and it. Remove dead, damaged, and diseased branches from your trees to minimise the chances of this happening.
Crown thinning and canopy reduction
That big tree blocking all the sun into your garden? You don’t have to cut it down.
Try thinning the crown instead. It’s the most common way of altering the canopy and involves selective pruning, concentrating on dead or congested shoots, whilst maintaining the overall shape and size of the tree. Up to 30% of the branches can be removed from the canopy which will let more light into your garden.
For the inexperienced it can be easy to spoil the appearance of a tree so if you decide to take this task upon yourself make sure to step back and check your work regularly before removing further branches.
With more mature trees, where you would need to be working up a ladder to remove branches thicker than your wrist, it would be best to call in a professional tree surgeon.
A professional tree surgeon can also reduce the overall size of the canopy, ideal if your tree has grown too big and is now blocking out the sun.
Before carrying out any DIY tree work make sure you know if the tree has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or not. Your local council will have a tree officer who can advise you on the TPO status.
Don’t want to do any of the above?
If none of this is possible then all is not lost!
There are plenty of attractive plants which thrive in the shade. The Royal Horticultural Society website will tell you which plants can grow away from sunshine.
Come the hot summer, your shade will be the envy of your neighbours across the road!