My house is a north facing house.....however I feel like there isn't really an actual shady spot anywhere? Even the northside gets the morning sun for quite a bit of time.

I have a bleeding heart plant that is on the northside of the house that does well, but Im wanting to plant ferns and lungworts/astilbe and im not sure if it would be shady enough.

Is there anything I can do? My house is only a one story so it isn't particularly tall? I mean the north-side SHOULD be the "shadiest" part correct?

4 Answers 4


You are correct that in the Northern hemisphere, the north side is the side of the house that is in the shade the most, but that does not mean it is necessarily the shadiest spot in your yard. The north side on my house is shady in the winter when the sun is low, but also gets too much sun in the morning and mid-day during summer, because the sun is so high in the sky. I can grow part-shade plants there, but not plants that like full shade.

Other plantings and structures in your yard might offer more shade than the house. Do you have any trees? large shrubs? fences? If the neighbor's house is close on one side, you might actually have more shade on that side of the house than on the north side. You should identify likely spots for shade, and then you'll need to observe. Check those spots at least three times a day for a period of time - once in the morning, once mid-day, and once later in the afternoon. It's best if you can do this over the course of a season, because the angle of the sun changes from month to month. If you can't do that, you can take a chance and plant based on a one-time observation.

  • Well my neighbors house on the east side does block a lot of morning sun, so it only gets sun for a small part of the day before it starts going over the house....so that honestly might be a better place. Sadly the strip of dirt is next to our driveway and only maybe a foot in width
    – msmith1114
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 13:51
  • 1
    It is too bad the space you have there is so narrow, but it might be worth a try. I'd suggest doing some observations - try to figure out exactly when it is sunny. Once you know how many hours of sun it is getting, you'll know how likely shade plants are to be happy there. There is really no substitute for good observations!
    – michelle
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 13:55

Conifers always make great spots for shade loving plants. as they grow, the shade will be produced to protect the plant, and if it gets big enough you can always cut back the branches so it goes underneath the conifer.


You can built a lath-house or other dedicated shade structure (shade-cloth being the more modern approach to the lath-house, but not as classic), such as a grape arbor or pergola (which will cause shade underneath itself due to the plants growing on it.)


Well not knowing what zone your in, I can only say:

Don't be afraid of failure - buy some ferns and plant them where you want to see them. Water them in well and see if they survive there. Might take a couple of years before you know they will survive.

We are in the PNW - growing zone 8B.

I planted an epimedium on the north facing side of our house that gets pretty good sun during the summer and after 3 years, it's gone gangbusters. I picked it off our back stone wall that is completely shaded and it doesn't do nearly as well there as it does in the current, partly sunny location.

Fuchsias do well in that same location - for us.

You just never know till you try it.

  • Im in Zone 6a, ill add that in.
    – msmith1114
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 22:15

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