LIght requirements for plants - Knowledgebase Question

Kent, Wa
Question by lorriemnel
August 12, 2010
How do I judge what areas in my yard get full sun as opposed to part sun, or just shade. Does an area next to a fence but not shaded by anything else - is that full sun or part sun?


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Answer from NGA
August 12, 2010

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As you have noticed, the amount of sunlight can vary dramatically from season to season. Luckily, many plants are tolerant of a range of lighting conditions within some general parameters and will adapt. In general, a location in uninterrupted sun all day long (for example the middle of an open lawn)or a location with uninterrupted sun for at least six hours a day with those hours including noon, would be considered full sun. Locations with sun all afternoon or all morning could both be considered full sun, but the location with afternoon sun will be by far the hotter and harsher of the two and as a result you would nearly always select plants with a preference for full sun (rather than partial sun) for that location. A spot with good morning sun could be considered partial shade or partial sun, and may require some experimentation to see which plants do best there. Overhanging trees can cast a solid shade or a dappled shade. Dappled shade can be counted as partial shade to shade and will again require some trial and error. Many shade loving plants need a moist soil, so keep in mind too that trees can affect the planting location by stealing moisture from the soil. In a shadier location plants may tolerate a slightly drier soil than they would in a sunnier location. Again, trial and error will be the best way to determine the best plants. Seasonal changes can also affect lighting because the sun is higher in the sky during the summer. This makes shadows less, and so a location can be sunnier in the summer than in the winter. I hope this helps.

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