Do you enjoy planting flowers in your yard? A sun map can help you create a landscape plan that gives all of your flowers the proper amount of sunlight each day. My post this week is all about sun maps and how they can help you grow a collection of thriving flowers this spring and summer.
What Is a Sun Map?
A sun map is a simple diagram of a yard divided into sections. A label on each section notes how many of hours of sunlight the area receives. For instance, your sun map may show that a section of your yard receives four hours of sunlight, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A sun map includes structures such as houses, garden sheds, and trees that create shadows at various times throughout the day. Sun maps come in a variety of forms. One sun map may be full of colors, symbols, and detailed text, while another is a simplified sketch done in pencil. I personally like to keep it simple, but you can determine the look of your sun map.
Why Make a Sun Map?
One of the best reasons to make a sun map is you can use it as a guide to get the best growing results from your flowers. Keep in mind that because the sun's strength varies throughout the country, a sun map of someone living in Michigan will look different from a Floridian's sun map. If one area of your yard receives six hours of sunlight, you know it's a prime location for flowers that require full sun. Making a sun map can help you to avoid planting flowers in places where they will receive too much sunlight or not enough. After all, you don't want to plant fuchsia in an area that receives full sunlight: It would turn brown and wither. Fuchsia prefers to be in a location where it enjoys partial shade.
Ideas for Your Yard Design
If you have a lot of areas in your yard that get shade for four to six hours per day, then it's a good idea to invest in some flowers that require partial sun. Some examples of partial shade flowers include Jacob's ladder, lily of the valley, violas, begonias, and lobelia. Alternatively, if you have a place in your yard that receives six hours of sunlight or more, then you need some flowers that love the full sun. Some of these include lavender, Russian sage, sedum, asters, bee balm, and purple coneflower. Luckily, flowers sold in most garden stores come with a plastic label showing how much sunlight and water they need to survive.
Tips for Making Your Own Sun Map
The easiest way to make your own sun map is to take a day to observe the path of the sun through your yard. You don't have to sit at the window all day, but make it a point to look outside every hour or so. Use a piece of white paper and colored pencils to draw or make symbols for your house, your shed, and the trees around your yard. I would choose one color for the shady areas in your yard and another color for the areas that get a lot of sunlight. If you have a mature oak tree that casts a shadow over a particular area of ground for six hours a day, then make a note of that. If there is an area of your yard that is in the shade for four hours and receives sun for four hours, make a note of when each condition takes place. It's possible to calculate the lengths of shadows created by trees and other items in your yard, which may be useful. If you're high-tech, you may want to download an app such as Sun Seeker that can calculate the sun's path for you.
Making a sun map takes a little bit of time, but it can pay off throughout the growing season. Thanks for reading! - Alan