June 16, 2021 4 min read

The art of gardening involves much more than just choosing which plants and flowers to include in your yard. One of the most important factors to consider when you are trying to design the layout of your garden is lighting. Should you use partial shading, full sun or full shade?

The final decision as to what type of shading and lighting style to use depends on the type of garden you want to create. You also need to consider how the light changes throughout the day, and how this will affect the overall look that your garden will have.

Sunlight helps your garden grow

Sunlight is one of the most essential components helping shrubs, hedging and screening, palms and other plants in your garden to grow, along with soil and water of course. Plants benefit from at least six hours of exposure to indirect sunlight or full sunlight. However, some plant types can still flourish with much less sunlight exposure.  

If you are a first-time gardener, it takes time, research and some trial and error to learn how to use different styles of lighting to aesthetically enhance your garden and to help your plants grow best. If you do not know where to start, here are some tips to help you figure out what type of lighting will work best for the type of garden you want to create.

Study and Map Out Your Planting Area

Keep in mind that every garden receives a different amount of sunlight each day. This will depend on its location, how many structures there are nearby that may cause an obstruction to the natural light, what direction the property faces and other factors.

Since it is almost impossible to know immediately how much light your garden gets each day, it is a good idea to map out your garden and make a detailed observation as to where the light hits the strongest, where the shady areas are and how this changes as the sun moves across the sky. It is also important to take note that more gentle sunlight may be received by your plants in the morning, and harsher sunlight will be available from mid-day until the afternoon. Taking note of this will help you map out your garden, decide where to put certain types of plants, and put the natural light to good use.

Using Sun and Shaded Areas

After you map out your planting area and figure out which parts of it get the most sunlight exposure, you can begin to plan which types of plants to place in those high-intensity areas. Shade is a little bit more complicated. However, since sunlight may still reach those areas indirectly, it is best to put trees or other plants that do not require a high amount of sunlight to grow and thrive. You do not have to eliminate these spaces that do not get as much sunlight as the intense spots. Keep in mind that even if they are mostly shaded, the sunlight may still be able to reach these areas for short periods of time during the day.

Light Requirements for Plants

There are different types of light requirements that various plants need to be able to grow and thrive. When you shop for plants or seeds to grow in your garden, you may rely on these requirements to get an idea of what type of requirement a particular plant needs.

1. Full Sun

When a plant has a full sun requirement, it means that the plant needs at least six hours of direct sunlight to grow properly. Placing these types of plants in high-intensity sunlit areas in your garden will ensure that they get the sunlight requirement they need.

2. Partial Shade/Partial Sun

The rule of thumb for these plants is that they also need at least six hours of direct sunlight exposure per day, but not during the hottest part of the day. It is important to have a shade ready to put on these plants to protect them from harsh sunlight when it is present.

3. Full Shade

As its name suggests, the plants with this type of light requirement will require that they do not receive direct sunlight exposure. If you opt to give these plants exposure to the sun, they should only be placed in direct sunlight for short periods of time.

When to Remove or Add Shade

For plants that have light requirements which change throughout the day, it is recommended that you use portable and removable pots or movable materials which provide shade. You can also use branches of taller trees to help provide shade where it is needed.


Keep in mind that although there are rules when it comes to lighting used in landscaping, they have some flexibility and it will be up to you to carefully choose the best planting arrangements for the shady or sunny corners of your garden. 

If you are looking for high-quality plants to add to your garden, check out the Sunshine Coast Plants online store and take the hassle out of getting your plants home. We deliver direct from the nursery to your home or worksite. Servicing South East Queensland, Northern NSW, and beyond.