Find the Sunniest Spot for Your Plot

comments (2) March 5th, 2010

Pin It

WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
thumbs up 8 users recommend

A sun survey is an easy way to find the best spot in the yard to plant your vegetable garden.Click To Enlarge

A sun survey is an easy way to find the best spot in the yard to plant your vegetable garden.

Photo: John Pendleton

The Best Spot for the Veggie Plot

If you read any book, magazine article or blog about planting a vegetable garden, the first words of advice are usually “choose a location that receives 8 to 10 hours of sun each day.” This is great advice and a vegetable garden does need that much sunlight to be its most productive.

However, many new gardeners may not be sure which part of the yard is the best spot to dig a garden bed or place a raised planter.

One of the easiest ways for finding the sunniest spot in the yard is to do a sun survey. All you need is a day at home, good observation skills, a pencil and a piece of paper.

Take 3 Observations

The ideal time to take a sun survey is in early- to mid-spring, when trees are starting to leaf out and when you’re able to see the path of the sun as it crosses your yard or planting area. Wait for a cloudless day and then follow these four simple steps:

1. Draw the outline of the planting area on paper; include shade trees or other shade-producing features.
2. Observe where the sunlight shines on the area at 8:00 a.m.
3. Draw a circle on the paper that depicts the area in sunshine.
4. Repeat this process again at 12 noon and again at 4:00 p.m.

Where the 3 circles intersect is the spot that receives the most direct sunlight and is the ideal place to plant the vegetable garden.

Other Considerations

Armed with this information, you can prioritize your planting space. Fruiting vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, cucumbers, squash, and melons will prefer the area that receives the most sunlight each day.

Other vegetables and culinary herbs will do just fine growing in partial or dappled sun. Lettuce, kale, spinach, radish, bush beans, peas, carrots, beets, green onions, turnips, Swiss chard and herbs can be planted where some shade falls.

After you try it, show it off to other members in the
gardener's gallery.
Post your photos

posted in: vegetable garden, planting, sun survey

Comments (2)

BenRein writes: Great article Chris. Ive read several of your pieces and found them all useful and well written.

Ive been working on getting my vegetable garden really going this year. In the past Ive had trouble growing some of the vegetables I want to in my yard. I think it's because of the warmer climate here. I read in an article that the climate where you plan on growing can significantly change what you should be doing. I'd love a second opinion on things I could be doing to prepare my vegetable for the warm weather. Here is that article I mentioned:

Thanks in advance.

Keep up the great writing!

Posted: 12:40 pm on July 22nd
ChrisMcLaughlin writes: Jodi: What a great technique!
Posted: 10:32 am on March 5th
Log in or create a free account to post a comment.