North East Facing Garden Benefits & Drawbacks

There are both advantages and disadvantages to having a garden that faces north east. North east gardens tend to be considered less desirable, because they do not get as much sunshine, but you will enjoy some benefits, such as a cooler home, and a garden that is not blazing hot in the summer.

We are going to explore both the benefits and the drawbacks of a garden that faces north east, so that you know what you should expect. You can also make the most of your space if you have a better understanding of your garden and when it will get the most light.

Benefits

Let’s start by exploring the benefits that this kind of garden offers.

Sunny Mornings

If you are an early bird, you will enjoy having a north east facing garden because it will get the most light early on in the day. With the sun rising in the east, it will spill into the garden before it is blocked by the house, especially in the summer.

This means your garden will be lovely and bright when you get up. You will enjoy the best of the sunrise, and it will lift your mood for the day. As the day progresses, you may find that the house blocks the sun from the garden, but it will at least have got a few hours of sun early on.

This is better than a garden that faces fully north, which may get minimal sun at any time of day.

Increased Flexibility With Your Plants

Although you will find some plants simply won’t grow in a garden that faces north east, you will enjoy some increased flexibility with your plants. You can put the sun-lovers in the parts of your garden that get the morning sun, and you can grow plants that do not want so much light in other areas.

There are many plants that enjoy being grown in a shady garden, and some of the top ones to try include:

  • Foxgloves
  • Bellflowers
  • Bleeding Heart plants
  • Snowdrops
  • Hellebores
  • Solomon’s Seal
  • Himalayan Blue Poppy

Look into plants that commonly grow in woodlands and forests to choose blooms that will thrive in your garden. It is possible to find many varieties that will cope with the partial sun, and a lot of plants actually prefer it.

Cooler Summer Days

Most people enjoy their gardens at the peak of summer, but a garden that faces south can simply be too hot! If you have a garden that is constantly being pounded by the sun, you may find that it’s hard to get out there on the days when you most want to.

Anyone who is a fan of having outdoor lunches or dinner parties in their gardens during the summer will struggle in a garden that faces south, especially if there is limited cover. You might be amazed at how much easier this is in a garden that faces north east.

You’ll still get enough sun in the morning to create a warm and pleasant space, but you won’t constantly find that the sun is in your eyes and you can’t enjoy the outdoors. In summer, when gardens get the most use, shade can be a blessing.

This is true for kids as well. A trampoline, sandpit, or play area might get too hot in the summer, but in a north east facing garden, it will remain cool and usable.

Reduced Risk Of Sunburn

Of course, the sun isn’t just about discomfort. There is a real danger associated with it too. If you are sensitive to the sun or you have children or pets that want to be outside a lot, you might be very aware that the sun is a problem. 

With a garden that faces north east, there is much less risk of sunburn, especially during long summer days. You can let your children and your pets spend as much time as they want to outdoors.

You can also forget about parasols, sunshades, umbrellas, etc., and just enjoy being in the garden. In the long term, this can offer some major health benefits, because you won’t have to keep applying sunscreen or risk the serious implications of getting sunburned.

A Cooler Home

The back of your house, facing the garden, will be much cooler if the garden faces north east. Instead of being constantly hit by the sun, you will find that it stays reasonably shady, and this keeps the temperatures down inside.

If you are someone who suffers when it’s hot, this is ideal. It will keep the temperature of the whole house lower if you ensure that the air can flow through the home, making the inside of your house more comfortable without the need for air conditioning.

This is particularly advantageous if you have bedrooms at the back of the house. Trying to sleep when it’s too hot can be miserable. A north east facing garden makes the bedrooms cooler and ensures that you get a good night’s rest.

Gardening Is Easier

Gardens often need the most attention in the summer, which is also when it is unpleasant to be out working. A south facing garden will be burningly hot at the peak of summer, and it is very unpleasant to be carrying wood, cutting bushes, and weeding flowerbeds during this time.

A garden that faces north east will be far cooler in the summer, because the house will block most of the sunlight from it. You can attend to the chores that need doing outside without constantly having to stop and cool off, and without worrying about the amount of sun you are getting.

Your Grass Will Not Scorch

In the height of summer, the grass in south facing gardens often starts to struggle. This is especially true if water restrictions are put into place in the area, but it can happen anyway.

The fierce sunlight will kill off the grass, leaving brown, unattractive patches all over the garden.

This will not happen in a garden that faces north east, because the grass never gets too much sunlight. 

Drawbacks

Of course, alongside all those advantages, there are several drawbacks to a garden that faces north east. Most of these stem from the fact that it will be shadier. This can cause quite a few issues.

Being aware of these problems in advance will help you to combat them, so let’s look at the disadvantages that a north east facing garden suffers from.

It Is Colder And Darker

It may be harder to enjoy your garden throughout the year, because it will simply not be as sunny and pleasant overall. If you want to spend time in your garden, it needs to be a pleasant space, and a dark garden can be gloomy and depressing.

It may be tricky to find sunny spots for seating areas and any children’s play equipment. Sunbathing will be very difficult, and if you have a swimming pool or paddling pool, it will probably see less use because the garden will be colder.

You can mitigate this issue a bit by reducing overhead cover so that plants aren’t blocking your sunlight too much. Keep hedges low and cut back large trees to allow more light into the garden where possible.

Fewer Plants Will Grow

In a garden with lots of sunlight, you can grow almost anything. You may have to provide shady spots if you want things like Snowdrops and Bleeding Heart, but you can still grow them. You are not limited by the amount of light that you can provide.

In a north east facing garden, some plants simply will not grow. If a plant needs full sun for several hours in a day, your garden will not offer this, so you cannot grow that plant.

This means you will need to be careful about your garden design. Look at the plants that will thrive, and position them to make the most use of the light that you have got. Do not try to grow plants that need a lot of sun; they simply will not flourish. 

You will have to accept that only certain plants will suit your garden and the conditions it offers.

Your Lawn May Struggle

Although there are many different kinds of grass, most require good light to grow strong. You need your grass to be strong, because it will not stand up well to foot traffic otherwise.

In a shady garden, grass often struggles, especially in the winter. Depending on things like fencing, the length of the garden, and the position of your house, the garden may get very little sun in the winter.

Your grass will start to die back if this is the case, and it can be hard to keep an established lawn looking good. You should look into grasses that grow well in shady conditions, and maximize the light your lawn gets by removing overhead cover if possible.

If you cannot grow a lawn effectively, look into other options. A moss lawn can be very attractive and low-maintenance, and is great in a dark garden. It will not mind the lack of light.

Your House Will Be Dark

Unfortunately, a dark garden leads to a dark house – at least at the back. Your front rooms will get plenty of sunlight, but the back rooms may feel gloomy and cold.

If you want to create a sunroom or extension, this is frustrating, because it will not get much sun at all. It will be shaded by the house, and although you will be surrounded by greenery, it won’t be very pleasant to sit in.

Anyone who wants a bright home will struggle with a north east garden. You may find that you depend a lot more heavily on artificial lighting, especially in the winter months. You won’t be getting much sunlight at all.

It’s Hard To Grow Edible Plants

Most of the edible plants that we grow depend on getting a lot of light. Cucumbers, tomatoes, squashes, and herbs all enjoy full sun. A vegetable patch will not thrive if it doesn’t get several hours of direct sunlight per day.

Unfortunately, this is very difficult to achieve with a north east facing garden. You might have one or two sunny spots, depending on the height of the house and the length of the garden. 

If you don’t, you will have to choose vegetables that will grow in limited light, such as carrots, leeks, beets, and salad leaves. You can still grow vegetables, but as with other plants, you will be limited to certain varieties.

Waterlogging Happens

The sun is an important part of your garden drying out after heavy rains. If your garden never gets much sunlight, it will stay damp for longer, and this can cause problems for both you and your plants.

Wet grass is less durable and will turn to mush if it is walked upon a lot. Many plants will struggle when they are left sitting in water. Play equipment will be less usable, and a swimming pool is unappealing.

Waterlogging is a frustrating issue that can make a garden impractical even on dry days (if they follow heavy rain showers). There is little that you can do about this, especially in a small garden. You can try adding some drainage channels, but you will mostly have to tolerate dampness.

The Evenings Are Cold

If you want to enjoy your garden after work, you will struggle. It will often be too dark and shady to sit on the patio and eat dinner, or to lounge in a chair with a book. For many who work a standard 9-5 shift, the garden is unavailable in the evenings, even when the weather is warm.

Conclusion

North east facing gardens are not all bad news, but they can be a challenge. Make sure you recognize the drawbacks you are facing so that you can find ways to mitigate them and make your garden more enjoyable and more practical for you and your family.