Installing brand new plants, trees, and bushes in your yard or garden is one of the best parts of being a gardener. It’s a lot of fun to enjoy something new and fresh in your outdoor space. But without careful planning and an understanding of your garden’s sun patterns, you may find that the newly installed plants don’t do as well as you’d hoped. To ensure a positive outcome for your new plants, explore the process of sun mapping.
The Need for Sun
When you consult with a plant provider or landscaper, or when you go to pick out plants yourself, you’ll probably get a lot of information about the plant’s needs, specifically when it comes to water, soil, and nutrition.
You’ll also receive information about how much sun the plant requires, whether it’s full sun, partial sun, or shade.
- Full Shade: plants can operate well on less than 3 hours of sunlight daily
- Partial Sun or Partial Shade: plants need 3-6 hours of sunlight daily
- Full Sun: plants must have daily sun exposure for more than 6 hours
How much sun the plant needs helps you decide where it should be placed. But unless you know how the sun moves through your outdoor space, this information isn’t really going to help you. That’s where sun mapping comes in.
Scheduling Time to Map
Mapping sunlight is actually very simple. It involves just watching the movement of light across your lawn or through your garden. You could take an entire day to get it all done, or you could do an hour or two each day. Maybe on Monday you could observe the light from 5-7 a.m. and on Tuesday spend your lunch hour sun-mapping from 12-1 p.m. Then on Wednesday note the light patterns from 5-7 p.m., do a few hours on the weekend, and so on, until you’ve tracked the sun’s movement for a full 12-16 hours.
Creating Your Map
To accurately map the passage of the sun, you’ll need a basic map of your garden. You don’t have to be a superior artist to draw this—just do your best to get the distances and spacing of objects as accurate as you can. You’ll need to mark the locations of things that cause shadows, like your house, garage, shed, trees, fences, and tall shrubs or hedges.
Coloring Your Map
As you’re watching the play of the light across your outdoor space during a given hour, you can use colored pencils to mark the areas where there is sun vs shade. Deeper or brighter colors can indicate the intensity of the sun or shade.
Try to create a separate map for each hour. When you’ve tracked the sun for the equivalent of an entire day, be sure to take photos of your sun maps and store them digitally so you can consult them anytime you’re looking to buy new plants. With your sun maps on hand, you’ll always know the best places to install plants, no matter what their needs may be.
Remember, Kurtz Bros., Inc. always has expert advice available for you, whether it’s through our website, our blog, or our knowledgeable customer service. Contact us anytime with your questions, or browse online to find all the supplies you need for enjoyable gardening and landscaping.