After very disappointing, but enlightening (no pun intended), sun-study results in the vegetable garden beds, the next sun study I did was in the front yard. And this time I got much more favorable results.
The front of our house faces east, so it gets the majority of the morning sun. To organize this sun study, I divided the front yard into four areas:
I did this sun study on July 11th.
Area 1: The bed immediately in front of the house. This area has the Irish Yew, a Japanese maple, some rhododendrons, a camellia, a peony, and some hydrangeas.
This area gets 8 hours of sunlight: roughly 8-4pm.
Area 2: The next part is the lawn and flower beds that make up the majority of the front yard. This is the area between the front walkway and the street. There is a large boxwood hedge between our yard and the street. This area contains a bit of lawn, a fig tree, a strawberry fruit tree, and more rhododendrons, camellias, and hydrangeas.
This areas gets sun from ~9/10 am until 5 pm (7-8 hours total).
Area 3: The third area is a small plot between the driveway and a gravel area that acts as another driveway/extra car parking space. This place has a magnolia tree, some azalea bushes, alpine strawberries and dahlias.
Area 3 gets about 7 hours of sun (10 am-5 pm).
Area 4: The last area of the front yard, is really the side yard. This is a small terraced garden bed on the south side of our house. It has several Rose of Sharon bushes, more hydrangeas, salal berry, another fig, and a motley assortment of pots that my dad puts there to grow anything from fava beans to tomatoes.
The side yard is mostly in shade. The north end of the bed (closest to the house) gets a decent amount of sun (maybe 7 or 8 hours), but most of the south end is in shade or dappled shade for a good portion of the day due to trees from our neighbor’s yard.
Most of the plants in the front yard are decorative. Now that I’ve done my sun study, I realize that this is probably the sunniest part of our property. It seems a shame that we have to struggle to grow food in the shady backyard, while decorative (but otherwise not particularly useful) plants soak up the rays in the front yard.
I don’t want to rip out all the decorative bushes and just plant vegetables because then the yard would look quite pathetic in the winter and early spring. I’m thinking of ways to incorporate beds for growing more edibles, like squash here. If you have ideas, I’m all ears.