Gardening tips, Lawn watering, Plants,

How to Design Your Dream South-Facing Garden

A south-facing garden gets lots of sunshine, but you'll need to get the garden hose out regularly. Find out which plants to choose in a south-facing garden and discover tips for making the most of this excellent garden orientation.

8 MIN 19 Nov
Last update: 28 Nov 2023
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If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a south-facing garden, you’ll have lots of sunlight. In fact, your garden gets the most hours of daylight than any other garden orientation. Lucky you! And with the right planning, you can create a wonderful sun trap – perfect for relaxing, gardening, and entertaining. 

Table of contents:
  • What is a south-facing garden?
  • The features of a south-facing garden
  • How to tell if your garden points south
  • How many hours of sunshine do you get in a south-facing garden?
  • The pros and cons of a south-facing garden
  • The perfect plants for a south-facing garden
  • Does a lawn grow well in a south-facing garden?
  • Tips for a garden terrace in a south-facing garden
  • Maintenance tips for your south-facing garden
  • FAQs 

So, check out our tips on designing your dream south-facing garden, and enjoy the best of everything. 

Ready? Let’s get started! 

What is a south-facing garden?

Garden furniture with comfy blue cushions

Obviously, a south-facing garden faces towards the south and enjoys the most direct sunlight, as long as there aren’t any obstructions. 

Many plants love a south-facing garden, but some thrive only with partial or complete shade. So, read on for my expert tips to make the most of this most desirable of garden orientations. 

The features of a south-facing garden

These outdoor spaces enjoy:

  • An abundance of sunlight — an unobstructed south-facing garden gets direct sunlight for most of the day. This is ideal for sun-loving plants, shrubs, trees, vegetables, and herbs.  
  • Heat-loving plants — depending on your local microclimate, growing plants that thrive in Mediterranean regions may be possible. Either way, you’ll grow excellent tomatoes, peppers, and lavender!  
  • Cosy entertainment spaces — south-facing gardens are often too hot during the day, so creating comfortable seating areas in full or dappled shade is the ideal way to enjoy your outdoor space all day and into the evening. 

The Garden doctor says:

“A south-facing garden offers optimal conditions for growing fruit and vegetables. But you’ll also need shaded areas for relaxation areas to make the most of your outdoor space away from the midday sun.”

How to tell if your garden points south

Probably the easiest way to determine your garden’s orientation is with a compass. If you don’t have a physical compass, try the compass app on your phone.

Another way of identifying your orientation is to observe the sun’s path throughout the day. Because the sun rises from the east and sets in the west, so if you get full sun all day, your garden has a southern-facing orientation. 

How many hours of sunshine do you get in a south-facing garden?

Metal garden table and chairs in a sunny garden

The exact duration of direct sunlight depends on your precise location and whether there are any obstructions around your garden. 

However, a typical UK south-facing garden gets on average:

  • Spring — 6 hours a day
  • Summer — between 8 and 12 hours a day
  • Autumn — 4-6 hours a day
  • Winter — 2-4 hours a day

The Garden doctor says:

“One of the main benefits of a south-facing garden is that you can garden all year round. This permits the cultivation of winter veg and a longer season for frost-sensitive plants.”

The pros and cons of a south-facing garden

A sprinkler spraying a garden

As well as longer hours of sunlight, a southern garden is often warmer. And depending on where your home’s windows face, that can help you save energy as it can help to heat your house. 

However, your garden will get very hot, and you’ll need to water your lawn and flowerbeds more often than other outdoor spaces. The best way to mitigate the heat is to create shade areas like pergolas. Erect latticing and encourage climbing plants to grow, which will introduce some much-needed dappled shade.

So, while the sun can help plants grow abundantly, they’ll need more water. And shade-loving plants won’t thrive in a south-facing garden unless there’s plenty of shade. 

The perfect plants for a south-facing garden

Roses and lavender growing together

Here are some plants ideally suited to a sun trap! 

  • Roses — some varieties prefer partially shaded gardens, so opt for shrub varieties, like Rosa rugosa and wild roses.  
  • Lavender — Spanish lavender is particularly suited to full sun
  • Sage
  • Sunflowers
  • Tomatoes, chillies, and pepper plants
  • Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil
  • Citrus trees, such as oranges, lemons, and limes. 
  • Heat-loving succulents, like agaves, echeveria, and cacti. 

Does a lawn grow well in a south-facing garden?

Grass plants adore the sun, so your south-facing garden will likely have a healthy lawn if you provide enough water. Unsure how much water your lawn needs? Check out our expert article about how to water your lawn

Here are some lawn care tips for grass plants in full sun:

Choose the correct grass variety 

Close-up of damp grass
Damp grass.

Most grass plants thrive in full sun, but not all gardens enjoy full sun everywhere. 

Perhaps there’s a shady area underneath a tree? 

If your lawn looks thin and unhealthy in the shade, choose a versatile grass type like MOOWY’s Shade & Sun grass seed for excellent coverage. 

A lawn keeps your garden cool

Having a lawn helps to lower the ambient temperature in your garden, but it can also help cool down your home. After all, grass stores less heat than hard surfaces such as concrete or paving slabs, so introducing grass helps dissipate the sun’s intense heat. 

Heavy-use lawns

If your lawn is in full sun, there’s a high likelihood that it will get lots of use. But ball games, BBQs, sunbathing, and garden furniture put an average lawn under significant stress. 

So, overseed with a robust lawn seed variety, such as MOOWY’s Sport & Fun grass seed. With a high concentration of fine-leaved perennial ryegrass, this seed mix creates the aesthetics of an ornamental lawn that will stand up to heavy use.

MOOWY Shade & Sun Grass Seed
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Tips for a garden terrace in a south-facing garden

A person dipping their finger onto water surface.

You’re missing a trick if you don’t create a seating terrace in your south-facing garden. But remember to furnish anywhere you’re going to sit with comfy seats and plenty of moveable shade. 

Here are some tips for your terrace:

Tips for a sunny terrace

  • Sun protection — this has to be the priority. So, invest in umbrellas, awnings, or pergolas to create shade over your terrace or patio area. And don’t forget sun tan lotion with a high SPF — the sun’s rays are very ageing and can pose a cancer risk. 
  • Heat-resistant flooring — it’s easy to forget how hot the floor gets in full sun. Light-coloured stone or tile flooring is a good option as it can reflect the sun’s heat, avoiding dark colours, which soak in more heat. Even light-coloured floors get hot — so consider an outdoor rug over your tiles, preventing burnt feet!
  • Comfortable seating — invest in decent garden furniture if you can. Relaxing in the sun is only as relaxing as the seating you’re sitting on. Consider furniture with removable upholstery for extra comfort (and to stop the seat from getting too hot in the sun). 

Plants for a sunny terrace

  • Planters and flower pots — add planters and flower pots in sunny and shaded spots on your garden terrace for some life and vitality. You can grow flowering plants, shrubs, or even sun-loving herbs like rosemary or oregano. 
  • Vertical gardens — these are gardens that extend up your walls rather than across your floor. Erect a trellis, and attach flower pots for lovely foliage and colour. It’s a great way to cover up an ugly old wall or fence. Check out my article about vertical gardens for more inspiration.

Lifestyle choices for a sunny garden

  • Lighting — integrate mood lighting and string lights so you can use your terrace in the evening. Solar-powered garden lights are surprisingly powerful these days, creating a pleasant atmosphere. For greater illumination, consider installing mains-powered string lights. 
  • Outdoor kitchen — for gardens on the more luxurious end, set up a permanent grill or BBQ area with countertops and an outdoor fridge! 
  • Water features — running water adds tranquillity to your outdoor space and attracts birds and butterflies to your garden. 

Maintenance tips for your south-facing garden

Outdoor spaces with a southerly orientation often lack water and experience excessive heat. 


Regular watering is crucial as your soil will dry out quickly. Ensure you understand your plants’ water needs and perhaps select drought-resistant varieties. 

Help the soil keep hold of its moisture by mulching, which also helps minimise weeds. Use organic material, such as bark or homemade compost, to cover the ground to protect it from the sun. 

Maintain your soil with regular fertilisation, and run regular soil tests to monitor the pH of the earth. Add lime if the ground becomes too acidic for your plants (although ericaceous plants, like rhododendrons, love acidic soil). 

MOOWY Lawn Lime
Front image of the Lawn Lime lawn feed product pouch with lawn feed in front of the pouch
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  • Works in flower beds and lawns
  • Use once a year
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Choose heat— and sun-tolerant plants to make them more suitable for your outdoor space. Consider succulents, agaves, yucca plants, or lavender. 

Monitor your garden for signs of pest and disease, and act quickly if you see any damage. Aphids, spider mites, and whitefly are often problematic in hot gardens. 

Keep on top of your garden pruning to regulate the size of your plants. This, in turn, helps keep your plants from drying out because large plants need more water. 

Use ground covers around plants, trees, and shrubs to regulate the soil temperature, preventing root burn. 


What is a south-facing garden?

This is a garden that enjoys direct sunshine all day. The sun rises from the east and sets in the west, so if your garden enjoys natural light from morning till evening, it’s likely facing south. 

Which plants are suitable for a south-facing garden?

Choose drought-tolerant plants for a south-facing garden. Some examples include roses, lavender, sunflowers, tomatoes, peppers, and woody herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme. 

How many hours of sunshine does a south-facing garden get?

South-facing gardens get the most sunlight of all other garden orientations. Depending on the time of year, a south-facing outdoor space could get over 12 hours of direct sunlight at the height of summer. 

Any questions?

I hope I’ve given you plenty of inspiration for your south-facing garden. But if you have any questions, drop us an email.

Or check out our Help & Advice section. We have hundreds of articles to help you optimise your garden and lawn. 

Thanks for reading!

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