Tell me about north facing gardens

(26 Posts)
MrsFogi Thu 06-Dec-12 10:53:43

I've seen a house that ticks most of the boxes. But it has a north facing garden. Now I remember as a child my mother would always look for houses with south facing gardens. If I buy this house are we going to be freezing when having summer bbqs, will the children refuse to play outside, will nothing grow etc?

ouryve Thu 06-Dec-12 10:59:53

I think a North facing garden is bliss in high summer. The back of our house is South facing and we just end up indoors with all the curtains and blinds shut in the rare hot weather we get because it's so hot outside that it's uncomfortable. You can put a cardi on if you're not warm enough, but it's impossible to escape heat.

OTOH, if you like being blistering hot, then you'll probably totally disagree with me.

crazyhead Thu 06-Dec-12 11:09:54

How much of a garden person are you? I think that south/west is nicer if you love to be outside. And how big is the garden/high the house? That will affect how shadowed it is. Is it terraced or detached? That will affect light from the different sides of the house.

It is also worth thinking about the house itself and how you will use it. If the rooms that you can see yourself really living in face due north (eg the kitchen diner facing the garden that you just know would be the natural family area) bear in mind you won't get the lovely warm quality of light you would in south-facing. On the other hand, the north facing garden might give you a brilliant south facing front room you think you'd use all the time

happygonicky Thu 06-Dec-12 11:19:56

Crazyhead makes very good points. Our garden is North-west facing, long and isn't overshadowed by any other buildings, so we get sun at the bottom of the garden in the morning and sun on the patio in the evening. Which is idea for us because we tend to sit down and enjoy garden in the late afternoon/evening. We also get lovely light in the living room year-round.

Downsides are that you have to be very careful about what you grow; garden was planted very carefully with shade-loving shrubs. Growing veg/anything exciting would be out of the question.

FireOverBethlehem Thu 06-Dec-12 11:26:11

You're right though that nothing will grow. We attempted to grow vegetables at our last house, with a north facing garden. Absolutely nothing sprouted.

MadBusLady Thu 06-Dec-12 11:28:16

I have done a complete 180 on this (bwaha). I chose our current rented place because of the south-facing eat-in kitchen (which is where I spend most of my time), but it's just too hot in summer and we tend to flee to the lovely cool sitting room. In winter, the sitting room does get dull early, but I like being cosy and turning lights on in winter anyway.

If it's a big enough garden I don't see why you couldn't grow sun-loving plants - it's just that they'll be at the bottom of the garden and against the back wall rather than near/against the house.

I have one, it was what we could afford, our front garden faces full south but on the street, so no privacy.

If you like drying clothes outside it is not good!

yomellamoHelly Thu 06-Dec-12 12:09:23

We have a north-facing back garden. Is like living in a split-personality house, with noticeable heat difference between front and back most of the year. Back also a lot darker, though we are (slowly) working on minimising that. Is okay in the garden as it only affects the few metres nearest to the house and we have along garden.

oreocrumbs Thu 06-Dec-12 12:24:32

Our back garden is NF, and only gets a little bit of sun. The majority of the grass hardly grows and we have a lush strip at the top!

It's ok for us because we have a garden that wraps around and the majority of it is SF, so we can enjoy the heat and grow weeds plants.

What I do find annoying is the heat on the front of the house, our kitchen at the back is always cold, but the bedrooms and sitting room on the front are boiling in the summer. The thermostat is on the front of the house too, so in spring/autum when the sun is warming where the thermostat is, the heating won't come on but leaves the back of the house cold. Not a huge problem, I just nudge it up, but leaves the house colder than I intend.

I think the size would be a deciding factor for me. If as the others have said it is long enough to get the sun/light that is not blocked by the house then you will have some sun at various points of the day.

You can grow certain plants that like shade, and the DC will play out I should think, they might just need a cardigan.

BRANdishingMistletoe Thu 06-Dec-12 12:35:08

I had a north-east facing garden in one home and the lawn was all moss. As others have said it does make drying laundry difficult and our kitchen was very chilly.

I wouldn't do it unless the garden was long and not overshadowed by other buildings, so you can have the sun at the far end.

Too hot in a south facing garden? Are you in the UK ouryve? confused

RufousBartleby Thu 06-Dec-12 12:45:27

OP - unless the garden is very short you will have spots where the sun hits at different times of day. Granted its not easy to grow whatever you like, but there are shade loving plants and it is possible to make things nice with careful planting. We have roses growing in our sunnier areas, but they are varieties that I have selected for not needing full sun.

Our garden is also surrounded by a few trees and I love the dappled light in summer. I would consider the garden on its own merits and not write the house of unless you feel the garden is actually too small/shadowy etc.

Pootles2010 Thu 06-Dec-12 12:49:24

We have north facing garden, I quite like it. Its a bit more shady, so more pleasant when hot, and better for ds to play in.

Don't forget you can grow sun-loving plants in your front garden! I have a lovely climbing rose at the front of my house.

confusedperson Thu 06-Dec-12 13:05:01

North or south, east or west, it would not bother me in the slightest. The reason is the we are out to school/nursery/work all day and mostly out on weekends. The only thing I do in the garden is hang beddings for drying. Ours is west facing, and the plants on the north fence (facing south side) get way too much of sun and constantly dry out. The plants on the south fence (facing north side) are much greener and doing much better. When we come back from work, our kitchen in summertime is unbearably hot. Oh, and also my skin is very sensitive so I normally avoid sun as much as I can.

Though I like a bit of cool sun in the evenings. This can be given by north facing garden too, if the sun is not obstructed from the west.

It really depends on your lifestyle.

jalopy Thu 06-Dec-12 16:37:02

It's not so much about the garden, I wouldn't like the kitchen and back reception room to have no direct sunlight. Those rooms can be very gloomy and cold on overcast days.

HeartOfDixie Thu 06-Dec-12 16:45:57

Don't do it! I hate my north facing garden. It's just so gloomy! In the summer it just didn't feel right having bbqs etc in the shade. We get sun at the back of the garden but the patio comes off the house and this is where you want to sit and drink a lovely summery glass of wine! Also our north facing rooms on the ground floor (kitchen and open plan dining room) are pretty soul destroying with gloomy light all the time!

Ours is north facing but is long and backs onto other gardens iyswim so is a big open space. it's sunny all day, apart from the bit closest to the house. This means our big, glass fronted kitchen is always deliciously cool in summer but has plenty of light from skylights. And there is a shady bit for the kids to play in

It suits us very well but I guess it's because it's very open

Oh and I love the sun being on the south facing rooms at the front which is where we actually to most our living

seenbetterdays Thu 06-Dec-12 17:31:47

How you feel about it just reflects your attitude towards the sun. The sun always cheers me up. I love the sun in my kitchen especially on a cold wintry day! In the summer we have big doors that open and it s lovely.

soundevenfruity Thu 06-Dec-12 22:31:24

North facing is very good for kitchens. It's never too hot. I always thought you need a professional advice about plants and layout to make it inviting.

Beamur Thu 06-Dec-12 22:37:37

I have a short, hugely overshadowed NF back garden. It's shit.
I also have a red haired child and it was ideal to play in when she was a toddler as she didn't get sunburnt.
Only certain plants will grow, but you can still have a nice garden of sorts - grass may not thrive (mine doesn't) but it really depends what your aspirations for using that space are.
The room at the back of the house isn't one of our important rooms, but it is pretty gloomy and sometimes a bit damp smelling too.
The front garden is south facing and sunny and warm, although it doesn't amount to much, it's where we tend to go and sit out with a coffee during the day - but it can't be used for bbq's or evening socialising.

soundevenfruity Thu 06-Dec-12 22:41:59

If it's grass you are after there are some tough grass mixes that can be suitable to NF gardens.

Ponders Thu 06-Dec-12 22:44:49

when you say north-facing garden, do you mean the back of the house faces north?

how long is the garden & how tall is the house?

I don't mind my kitchen being north facing, it is great for making pastry, not a room that feels too cold (double glazing/central heating) and south facing kitchen would not be good in the summer, too hot for my liking.

swizzles Fri 07-Dec-12 13:51:30

Front of our house faces north, it's always a bit dank.

I'd put down artificial grass if back garden faces north. Yes it's not ideal but it's better than crap grass

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