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Southeast-Facing Garden: Unleash the Power of Morning Sun for a Thriving Outdoor Space

Garden with plants and outdoor furniture


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Do you have a southeast-facing garden? If so, congratulations! This orientation offers a delightful blend of sunshine and shade, creating a perfect canvas for a vibrant and flourishing outdoor haven. However, understanding what a southeast-facing garden means and how to leverage its unique light patterns is crucial to making the most of this special space. This comprehensive guide will delve into everything you need to know about southeast-facing gardens, from light conditions and plant selection to pavement choices, furniture ideas, and evening illumination.

Understanding the Light in Your Southeast-Facing Garden

A southeast-facing garden receives a warm kiss of sunshine in the morning. This golden light bathes the space for several hours, creating a delightful area to enjoy breakfast outdoors or bask in the invigorating rays as the day begins.  As the sun continues its journey across the sky, your garden will transition into a dappled shade in the afternoon. This creates a dynamic environment that caters to a variety of plants, offering both sun-loving and shade-tolerant options the opportunity to thrive.

Flower Power: Unleashing a Symphony of Colour 

Embrace the sunshine in your southeast-facing garden with a variety of vibrant blooms! Here are some fantastic options to consider:

  • Morning glories: These charming climbers unfurl their trumpet-shaped blooms in the early light, adding a touch of whimsical charm.

  • Daylilies: Daylilies boast vibrant hues of orange, yellow, and red, bringing a burst of colour that lasts throughout the day.

  • Lavender: A must-have for fragrant mornings! Lavender's intoxicating scent and beautiful purple flowers add elegance to any garden.

  • Honeysuckle: Another fragrant favourite, honeysuckle's sweet aroma will fill your garden with delight.

  • Geraniums: These cheerful plants come in vibrant reds, pinks, and whites, adding a touch of playful elegance to your garden.

Garden with geranium and outdoor furniture


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Take advantage of vertical space with these captivating climbers:

  • Climbing roses: These fragrant beauties cascade colourful blooms, adding elegance to walls and fences.

  • Clematis: Clematis offers a variety of captivating colours from deep purple to pure white, adding a touch of elegance as it gracefully climbs upwards.

  • Nasturtiums: Another excellent climber, nasturtiums boast vibrant blooms that add a touch of cheer to your vertical spaces.

Evergreen Elegance: Introducing Shade-Tolerant Greenery 

While the afternoon sun might bring dappled shade, incorporating some shade-loving plants is key to creating a visually interesting and balanced garden. Here are some fantastic options to add a touch of lushness and texture:

  • Hostas: These shade-loving perennials come in a variety of colours and sizes, offering endless possibilities. 

  • Ferns: Timeless and elegant, ferns bring a touch of the rainforest to your garden.

  • Coral bells: These versatile plants offer beautiful foliage and delicate blooms, thriving in shady areas. 

  • Heuchera 'Plum Royale': This variety features vibrant pink foliage, adding a pop of colour to your shade garden.

  • Impatiens: These classic shade-lovers come in a wide range of vibrant colours and are perfect for adding a burst of cheer to shady corners. 

  • Japanese hakonechloa: This graceful grass adds a textural element to shady areas. Its cascading green blades create a visually appealing mound, perfect for edging pathways or adding contrast to other shade-loving plants.

  • Astilbes: These shade-loving perennials offer beautiful plumes of flowers in shades of pink, white, and lavender. They are perfect for adding a touch of elegance and vertical interest to shady borders.

Green fern


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Pavement Perfection: Choosing the Right Path 

The type of pavement you choose for your southeast-facing garden plays a significant role in both functionality and aesthetics. Since your garden receives a good amount of morning sunshine, opting for materials that won't absorb too much heat is essential. Natural stone pavers, such as flagstone or granite, are a perfect choice. These materials offer a timeless elegance and come in a variety of colours and textures to complement your overall garden design. Light-coloured concrete pavers are another excellent option, reflecting sunlight and keeping your patio area cool and comfortable underfoot throughout the day. 

Furnishing for Comfort: Creating a Relaxing Retreat 

When it comes to furniture in your southeast-facing garden, consider the time of day you'll be spending there the most. If you relish basking in the morning sun with a cup of coffee or enjoying a good book, opt for comfortable seating that allows you to soak up the rays. Deep armchairs with weatherproof cushions or even a luxurious chaise longue are perfect for creating a haven of relaxation.  However, keep in mind that the afternoon sun might bring dappled shade or even full shade depending on the layout of your garden.  For these times, consider incorporating a retractable awning or a large parasol that you can easily deploy when needed. This will allow you to enjoy your garden throughout the day, regardless of the sun's position. 

Illuminating Ideas: Setting the Mood After Dark 

As the sun sets and the day transitions into a magical evening, your southeast-facing garden can transform into a whimsical and inviting space. String lights hung along fences or draped over pergolas will cast a warm glow, perfect for al fresco dining or relaxing evenings under the stars. Fairy lights woven through climbing plants or strategically placed around the garden will add a touch of enchantment. Solar-powered lights are a great eco-friendly option for illuminating pathways and creating a whimsical ambience.  For a touch of sophistication, consider placing strategically positioned lanterns around the garden. These can be fueled by candles or citronella oil for added pest deterrence. Fire pits or chimenea-style fireplaces can become the focal point of your evening garden, providing warmth and a cosy atmosphere for gatherings with friends and family. When choosing furniture for these areas, opt for fire-resistant materials like cast iron or weatherproof wicker.

Have you got a front-facing garden? Read our article for more inspo and ideas.

Beyond the Basics: Tips and Insights for Optimising Your Southeast Facing Garden

While plant selection, pavement choices, furniture, and lighting are crucial elements, there are additional considerations for optimising your southeast-facing garden. Here are some valuable tips and insights:

  • Wind Protection: Southeast-facing gardens can sometimes be susceptible to winds, especially during spring and autumn. Planting wind-resistant shrubs or small trees on the north or west side of your garden can create a natural barrier and provide a more sheltered microclimate for your delicate plants.

  • Water Wisely: Morning sun, while beneficial for many plants, can also lead to increased evaporation. To ensure your plants stay hydrated, water them deeply in the morning or early evening when temperatures are cooler. Consider incorporating a drip irrigation system for efficient water usage, especially during hot and dry periods.

  • Embrace Vertical Space: Since southeast-facing gardens often have limited space, consider utilising vertical space to maximise your planting potential. Climbing plants like clematis, wisteria, and climbing roses can be trained up walls, fences, or pergolas, adding vibrant colour and lush greenery without sacrificing ground space. Hanging baskets overflowing with trailing petunias, fuchsias, or lobelia can add pops of colour and create a cascading effect.

  • Container Gardening: For added flexibility and to accommodate specific plant needs, incorporate container gardening into your design. This allows you to group sun-loving plants together in areas with the most morning light and move shade-loving plants to cooler spots during the hottest part of the day. Terracotta pots, glazed ceramic containers, or even repurposed wooden crates can add a touch of personality to your garden.

  • Create Defined Areas: Southeast-facing gardens offer the opportunity to create distinct areas with different purposes. For example, use paving stones to create a dedicated patio area for lounging and entertaining in the morning sun. A shaded corner beneath a tree or pergola can become a peaceful reading nook or a meditation zone.

Vertical planter with herbs and plants

Our Final Thoughts

A southeast-facing garden offers a unique canvas for creating a vibrant and flourishing outdoor space. By understanding the light patterns and strategically selecting plants, pavements, furniture, and lighting, you can cultivate a haven that caters to your needs and preferences. Embrace the morning sun for energising breakfasts outdoors, utilise shade pockets for afternoon relaxation, and transform your space into a magical evening retreat with thoughtfully placed lighting.  Remember, with a little planning and creativity, you can unlock the full potential of your southeast-facing garden and create a flourishing oasis you'll cherish for years to come.

Need help finding the best solution for your southeast-facing garden? Book one of our Landscape Design Gurus for a 30-minute video call. Transforming your home into a space you love shouldn't be a daunting task. With HiiGuru you can save time, avoid costly mistakes and bring your goals to life with experts by your side.


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