Which Way Does Your Yard Face? South, East, North, West Why Does It Matter?

What is the orientation of my yard? Or What’s my yard aspect?

This is another way of asking which way my garden faces. To determine this, you can identify if your garden is north facing, south facing, east facing, west facing, north-east facing, north-west facing, south-west facing or south-east facing. Understanding your garden’s aspect is crucial when planning and planting a garden. It affects how the sun moves around the garden and is a key factor in designing a successful garden. At first, it may seem confusing, but it simply refers to the position from which you look out into your backyard. By facing your garden, you can determine its direction. We’ll explain how your garden’s orientation can impact your gardening endeavors.

One of the main challenges for gardeners is to understand their garden. The orientation or direction of your garden is significant, no matter where you live. It can have a significant impact on the benefits and problems you face, as well as the types of plants that can grow and thrive in your yard. Many people desire a south-facing garden that is sunny and sheltered, but there are also advantages to gardens facing east, west, or even north, which can be productive and visually appealing.


How to determine the orientation of your yard

To determine the orientation of your garden, you can follow these simple steps. First, stand by the back wall of your house facing your yard then use a compass to identify the garden’s aspect. If you’re not familiar with how to read a compass, it has a needle that always points North. Align the compass and needle to “N,” and whatever direction is directly in front of you is the aspect of your garden.

If you don’t have a compass, you can use your smartphone with a compass app installed and follow the same process as mentioned above.

Alternatively, even without a compass, you can make an educated guess about your garden’s aspect by observing the position of the sun and the shade it casts during the day and throughout the year. As a general rule, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Garden Aspects Explained

The amount of sun and shade that your garden receives depends on its orientation. However, determining the garden’s aspect is not the only factor to consider. You should also consider other trees and structures surrounding the garden that may provide shade throughout the day and different times of the year. For example, a bungalow home will cast less shade than a two-story home.

When selecting plants for your garden, it’s crucial to choose those that are suitable for their environment. Gardeners, even the most enthusiastic ones, sometimes select plants that are not compatible with the garden’s aspect, resulting in plant stress or even death. Knowing which plants require more or less light can help you select the appropriate plants for your flowerbed.

Although shaded areas pose many challenges, shade gardening also presents an array of opportunities.

What is a east facing backyard?

An East facing yard is one that simply faces towards the east. It receives most of its sunlight in the morning and is shaded in the afternoon and evening. This type of backyard is best suited for plants that prefer partial shade and require protection from intense sunlight as they grow. During summer, the shaded area provides plants with protection from scorching temperatures. Moreover, a dappled evening shade can attract pollinating moths and other wildlife, as well as enhancing the beauty of white flowers.

In the morning, the garden receives more sunlight, making it an ideal spot for enjoying breakfast outdoors. However, evenings and afternoons are usually darker, so if you enjoy entertaining guests in the evening, it’s recommended to incorporate a fire pit and garden lighting into your landscape design.

East facing yard diagram

What plants can you plant for a east facing yard?

The following plants are well-suited for an east-facing garden and can thrive in the morning sun and cooler temperatures:

  • Honeysuckle
  • Berberis
  • Hydrangea.
  • Lily of the Valley.
  • Christmas fern.

What is a south facing garden?

South facing yard diagram

South-facing gardens are those that face towards the south, although many are not perfectly aligned and may face slightly to the south-west or south-east. Nonetheless, they are commonly referred to as “south-facing gardens”.

In addition to being referred to as such, having a south-facing garden can also increase the value of your home by up to $26,500, according to Rightmove. On average, properties with a south-facing garden have a higher price than similar properties without one.

South-facing gardens tend to be brighter, as they receive more direct sunlight. In the early part of the growing season, they also tend to be hotter and warm up earlier. However, their soils can become drier and require more watering. Additionally, it may be challenging to create shaded seating areas in these gardens as they can become very hot.

What plants for a south facing yard?

Although many plants can thrive in full sun, it’s important to add a layer of mulch, such as pebbles, bark, or gravel, to increase water retention in your flower bed. If you have a south-facing garden, the following plants are ideal candidates:

  • Irises
  • Osteospermum (African Daisy)
  • Achillea
  • Creeping Phlox
  • Delosperma
  • Evening Primrose
  • Verbascum
  • Dahlias

Of course, there are many other plants to choose from as well.

What is a west facing yard?

A west-facing garden is situated towards the west and typically receives more shade in the mornings but abundant sunlight in the afternoons and evenings. The plants in such a yard must be capable of withstanding the intense summer sun in the afternoons while also being able to tolerate or even thrive in the morning shade.

During afternoons and evenings, the garden will be sunnier, making it a great spot for hosting house parties. Conversely, in the morning, the garden will be darker, and the area nearest to the house will remain shaded.

West facing yard diagram

What plants can you plant in a west facing yard?

West-facing backyards can accommodate a variety of beautiful and popular flowering plants. Here are some ideas:

  • Tulips
  • Geraniums
  • Daffodils
  • Roses
  • Jasmine
  • Magnolia

There’s no doubt that these are some of the most stunning and fragrant flowers on Earth.

What is a north facing yard?

North-facing gardens are typically shaded for most of the day due to the position of the house blocking the sun. However depending on where you live you can expect that until October, north-facing surfaces such as the back of the house can still receive morning and evening sunlight.

The reduced sunlight or dappled shade affects plant choices in these gardens. It tends to be cooler in the early season and warms up later, with less extreme highs and lows in temperature. Depending on surrounding factors, the far end of longer north-facing gardens may receive a significant amount of light.

North facing yard diagram

What plants can you plant in a north facing yard?

A garden that faces north is an ideal spot for plants that prefer cooler temperatures or shade. Here are some plant varieties that thrive in this type of environment:

  • Hostas
  • Ferns
  • Dicentra
  • Vinca major
  • Viburnum
  • Erythronium (Dogtooth violet)
  • Begonia
  • Primula vulgaris
  • Aquilegia vulgaris

There are many other plants to choose from as well.