Our real estate agents can tell you that no matter how green-thumbed you are, the success of your garden still depends on a higher power. Before you design your garden, buy seeds, or get into the weeds with a new vegetable patch or flower bed, it's important to consult one of the top arbiters of horticultural success: the sun. Just like choosing plants for your climate zone, you also have to pick the right spot for your garden. This means determining how much sun exposure your garden will get, especially in areas where tall buildings and trees cast shifting patterns of shade. The method you'll use to choose the best area for your plants is called sun mapping.
Solar energy is fuel for plants, but this doesn't mean that all plants require the same amount of sun exposure. Some plants need full sun, which means 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. Plants labeled as part sun and part shade require 3-6 of sunlight each day, while those labeled as shade need 3 hours or less of sunlight a day. A sun map can give a clear picture of where and when the sun hits throughout the day. This can help you plan the landscape around your home and determine the best area for certain crops. Tracking sun exposure and shade patterns on clear days during different months of the growing season will give you a guideline for planting a healthy garden.