Gardening Without Sun — Making the Most of It!

comments (0) August 24th, 2015

Pin It

jgthegardener jgthegardener, member
thumbs up no recommendations

It's every gardener's nightmare - the realization that your yard doesn't have an area that gets a full six hours of sunlight! It can be due to a variety of reasons, but the most common one is that there are too many buildings. Or, if you live in the country, too many trees!

Either way, the result is the same. If you try to grow vegetables, you'll probably get a very small, limited harvest, no matter how much work you put in.

At least, that's what you're probably used to! Most of the common vegetables people like to grow need full sun. If you don't have it, you'll need to do some experimenting. There are a few options available to you, and some tricks to getting a bigger yield without having to do as much work.

Try a Container Garden

If you really want to grow some of the traditional veggies, you can still do that. Often, the problem lies in the location of the garden - not the house. This leaves some options open - namely, a container garden. You can still utilize yard space for plants that do decently without full sun, but for those cucumbers, peppers, and squash you can just put them in pots!

This is great for people who have a small porch or deck, because your plants aren't going to grow out so much as they'll grow up. Squash, of course, is still going to need a pretty big pot, but you can help it out by lifting the plants up and supporting them. That will leave the entire pot for the leaves and stems. You'll want to apply this method to all of your containers. It might seem a bit strange at first, but it's actually pretty cool to see the cucumbers dangling from a trellis, and they're so easy to pick!

Change It Up!

Lucky for you, there are some veggies that actually prefer partial sun. Not many, but some. However, you can plant a fair number of veggies if you're willing to accept a few things. For starters, you'll want to space out your plants more than you would in a sunny garden. This prevents them from getting overshadowed by other plants and maximizes their time in the sun.

You should be careful when watering your garden as well. Shaded areas don't dry out nearly as fast, so be careful not to overwater. That just stresses the plants out more! You'll want to really concentrate on keeping the leaves dry too, since getting them wet increases the risk of rot and fungal infections spreading.

Use a Community Plot

If you have a community garden plot in your area, this can also be a really great way to get some extra plants in! Prices will vary, of course, but they're usually pretty inexpensive, they get great sun, and it's an amazing opportunity to learn from more experienced gardeners. If the garden has been going for a while, it's not uncommon for them to have a wide variety of things you'll need. Seeds, starter plants, and shovels are fairly common. If you're very lucky, you may even have a community garden that offers some farming equipment like forklifts and tractors.

If your area doesn't offer a community garden, it can't hurt to ask around about starting one. A 4H Club, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, or even local colleges may be interested in working to get one going. If you really want to, you could even do a section of the garden in partial shade, to offer a fun challenge for other gardeners who might be looking to learn more.


Clearly, a less than sunny yard shouldn't get in your way if you want a garden. What it should do is present a unique challenge, and an opportunity for you to learn more. Your garden can be all that you want, so long as you're willing to rise to the challenge!

posted in: Gardening, community garden