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North East Facing Garden: The Bright & Shady Sides (Pros & Cons)

Is a North East Facing Garden Good?

A garden partly in the sun and shade

In our experience, a north east facing garden can be good, as it offers a mix of sun and shade, allowing you to grow a diverse range of plants and create comfortable outdoor spaces. However, careful planning and plant selection are essential for success.

Let’s talk about what it means to have a north east facing garden. In simple terms, this means your garden will get sunlight during the morning hours and gradually move into the shade as the day progresses. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

But it’s not just about soaking up those sun rays – there are some genuine perks for your plants too. Many flowering plants and veggies, like tomatoes and roses, love a bit of morning sun to kick-start their growth. Plus, the early sunshine helps dry off any overnight dew, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The afternoon shade can cause some challenges, especially for sun-loving plants that need a full day of sunlight to thrive. You can still create a stunning and flourishing garden with some creativity and plant selection know-how.

Will a North East Facing Garden Get Any Sun?

A sunny garden with furniture and plants

From our observations, a North East facing garden will undoubtedly receive some sun, mainly in the morning. Since the sun rises in the east, your garden will bask in sunlight early in the day, while afternoons may provide cooler, shadier conditions, creating a comfortable balance throughout the day.

We’re here to shed some light on that topic (pun intended) and provide you with the lowdown on the characteristics of northeast-facing gardens.

Characteristics of north east facing gardens

Let’s begin by talking about sunlight. Your north-east facing garden will receive its fair share of sunshine, especially during the morning. As the sun rises in the east and moves across the sky, you’ll enjoy bright, sunlit mornings that gradually transition into cooler, shadier afternoons. This combination can be a real treat for both you and your plants!

Speaking of temperature and humidity, an east-facing garden typically enjoys a cooler atmosphere in the afternoon. This can be a blessing during hot summer days, providing a refreshing retreat from the heat. However, choosing plants that can handle fluctuating temperatures and humidity levels throughout the day is essential.

Due to the mix of sun and shade, your garden’s soil may vary in moisture levels and temperature. Morning sun can help dry out damp patches, while shaded areas may retain more moisture. Monitoring these conditions and selecting plants that will thrive in your garden’s unique microclimate is essential.

Challenges of a north east facing house

It’s essential also to address the challenges that come with it. But fear not – with some knowledge and some clever tips, you’ll be able to tackle these obstacles head-on and create a thriving garden.

One of the main challenges of a north east facing garden is, of course, limited sunlight. As the sun moves across the sky, your garden will gradually become shadier, which can make growing sun-loving plants a tad tricky. 

However, you can overcome this by carefully planning your garden layout. Ensure you position sun-seeking plants in areas where they’ll receive the most morning light while placing shade-tolerant plants in those spots destined for afternoon shade.

Cold and damp conditions can also be a concern, especially in the shaded parts of your garden. It’s crucial to keep an eye on these areas and take steps to improve drainage if needed. You can help improve its structure and water retention by adding organic matter to the soil, making it more hospitable for your plants.

Lastly, growing certain plants in a north east facing garden can be a challenge. But instead of lamenting what you can’t grow, focus on the vast array of plants that will thrive in your unique garden environment.

Best Plants for North East Facing Gardens

Now it’s time to get down to the exciting part – choosing the perfect plants to thrive in your unique outdoor space. With a focus on shade-loving plants, those that flourish in cooler temperatures, and those that can tolerate damp conditions, you’ll soon have a lush and lovely garden.

Shade-loving plants

Fern plants with other flowers in a garden

Embrace the shady side of your north east facing garden with these tremendous shade-loving plants:

Ferns – With their delicate fronds and love for dappled light, ferns are a brilliant choice for adding texture and interest to shadier spots. Discover expert advice from the RHS on other plants that thrive in the shade.

Hostas – These lush, leafy beauties come in various sizes and colours, making them a versatile addition to any garden.

Astilbes – These feathery, colourful plants will bring a touch of brightness to even the dingiest areas of your garden.

Plants that thrive in cooler temperatures

Some purple heucheras in a garden

Don’t let the chillier afternoons put you off – there are plenty of plants that positively adore cooler temperatures:

Heucheras – With their vibrant foliage, heucheras add a pop of colour to your garden and can handle a bit of chill in the air.

Hellebores – Known as the winter rose, hellebores bloom in late winter and early spring, providing a much-needed burst of colour during the colder months.

Pansies – These cheerful, hardy flowers can withstand cooler temperatures, making them a lovely addition to your north east facing garden.

Plants that can tolerate damp conditions

If your garden tends to get a bit soggy – these plants can handle the dampness:

Ligularia – With their bold leaves and vibrant flowers, ligularias are an attractive choice for damp, shaded areas.

Primroses – These charming woodland flowers can tolerate damp conditions and bring springtime magic to your garden.

Japanese iris – These elegant, moisture-loving plants are perfect for adding a touch of sophistication to damp areas.

For further reading, look at this comprehensive guide on plants for north-facing gardens, which will give you more ideas.

North East Garden Design Tips

A beautiful garden pond surrounded by stones

Layout considerations

Consider how the sun moves across your outdoor space throughout the day when planning your garden layout. Place sun-loving plants in areas where they’ll receive the most morning light, and position shade-tolerant plants in spots destined for afternoon shade. 

Also, consider creating pathways and seating areas that take advantage of sunny and shady areas, ensuring you have a comfortable place to relax no matter the time of day.

Maximising sunlight exposure

To make the most of your garden’s sunlight, consider incorporating reflective surfaces, such as mirrors or light-coloured walls, to bounce light into shadier spots. You can also use trellises or pergolas with climbing plants to create dappled shade, allowing more light to filter through to the plants below.

Creating a balanced ecosystem

A thriving garden is all about balance. Encourage a healthy ecosystem by including a variety of plants that attract insects, such as ladybirds and bees. Consider adding a small pond or water feature to provide a habitat for frogs and other wildlife, which can help keep pests in check. Additionally, incorporating compost bins and mulching can improve soil quality and promote a healthy environment for your plants to flourish.

Maintenance Tips for North East Facing Gardens

A hosepipe being used to sprinkle water on plants

Soil management

To keep your garden thriving, pay close attention to the soil. Regularly add organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve soil structure and nutrient content. This will help your plants grow, even in the variable conditions of a north east facing garden.

Watering schedule

Your garden’s unique sun and shade mix means different areas may have different watering needs. Sunlit areas may dry out more quickly, while shaded spots retain moisture longer. Be mindful of these differences, and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. 

A good rule of thumb is to water deeply but less frequently, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. This will encourage strong root growth and help prevent waterlogged soil. This detailed guide lets you learn how to grow plants in a north-facing garden.

Pruning and pest control

For the health and appearance of your plants, regular pruning is required. Remove dead or damaged branches, trim back overgrown foliage to allow more light to reach the plants below. When it comes to pest control, opt for natural methods wherever possible. Encourage insects like ladybirds and lacewings by planting flowers that attract them, and consider introducing birds or frogs to your garden to help keep pests at bay.

Pros and Cons of North East Facing Gardens


  1. Delightful morning sun – Enjoy bright, sunlit mornings perfect for sipping your cuppa and admiring your garden.
  2. Cooler afternoons – The afternoon shade provides a refreshing retreat during hot summer days.
  3. Less risk of sunburn – With less intense sunlight, you can work in your garden without worrying as much about sunburn.
  4. Reduced evaporation – The cooler temperatures help retain moisture in the soil, requiring less frequent watering.
  5. Morning dew reduction – Early sun helps dry overnight dew, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.
  6. Plant diversity – A mix of sun and shade allows various plants to grow.
  7. Wildlife attraction – The diverse plant life can attract beneficial insects and other wildlife.
  8. Unique microclimate – Embrace the challenge of creating a beautiful garden tailored to your specific conditions.
  9. Energy efficiency – The shadier afternoons can help keep your home cooler, reducing energy costs.
  10. Cosy seating areas – Create inviting seating areas that take advantage of sunny and dark spots.


  1. Limited sunlight – Sun-loving plants may struggle due to reduced sunlight exposure.
  2. Cold and damp conditions – Shaded areas can become chilly and wet, requiring careful plant selection and soil management.
  3. Slower plant growth – Some plants may grow more slowly due to reduced sunlight.
  4. Potential for frost damage – Shadier spots may be more susceptible to frost damage in winter.
  5. Careful planning required – A north-facing garden requires extra attention to layout, plant selection, and garden maintenance.


We hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as we did writing it! As you can see, a north east facing garden offers a unique blend of sun and shade, presenting delightful opportunities and intriguing challenges. 

By understanding your garden’s distinct characteristics and carefully selecting suitable plants, you can create a flourishing oasis that caters to both sun-loving and shade-tolerant species. With the right approach to garden design, paving maintenance, and plant selection, your north east facing garden can become a haven of beauty, tranquillity, and biodiversity.