Erica Groneman + photo

Erica Groneman

Jun 9
3 min read
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sun with a blue sky and a few clouds

We’ve already talked about growing a garden in the shade and which vegetables do well. But if you really want to get serious and more scientific about how much sun or shade you have in your yard, you can sun map your space by either creating your own sun map, or using an app.

What Is A Sun Map?

A sun map is a map of the sun exposure in your yard. A sun map shows how many hours of light are in a given spot throughout the day. You may have a full shade area and a full sun area within feet of each other. A sun map would show that.

Why Use A Sun Map?

Some plants need full sun, others partial sun/partial shade, and others full shade. Full sun is at least 6 hours of direct sunlight (no shadows). Part-sun or part-shade is 4-6 hours of direct sun. Full shade is less than 4 hours of direct sunlight. Most yards have a combination of these three because of trees, fences, structures (like a house), or other fixtures in their yard.

Sun maps are useful because they tell you how much sun your plants would get in one day in any particular section of your space. In the spring when most gardeners are putting their plants in the ground, most trees do not have leaves, and therefore it is difficult to tell what areas will be shady later in the summer. By planting your plants according to a sun map, you ensure your plants will be getting the correct amount of sun for them to thrive.

How To Make A Sun Map On Your Own

To make a sun map on your own, simply sketch your yard on a piece of paper. Be sure to include buildings, large trees, fences, shrubs, or anything else that could cast a shadow throughout the day. Then with three different colors of colored pencils, color in which areas are full sun, part sun, or shade. To get an accurate map, you may need to go out every hour or two for a full day to check where the sun is hitting different areas of your yard.

As a side note, create your sun map when your garden will be in full bloom (ie summer vs winter), because the season or time of year will change where the sun hits your yard. The most accurate sun map is made manually by time, observation, and taking note of the changes in shade and sunlight on the sketch of your yard.

Sun Mapping Apps

Some people prefer to use a sun map app. While these apps are good to show where the sun is in the sky on any particular day and where it will be coming from, depending on the app, it may not show particulars in your yard like obstructions caused by a shed or tree. However, a sun map app is a great place to start if you are new to the property or if you are needing to make a sun map of your yard off season.

Using a sun map can optimize your garden or yard space and guide you in what you plant where. A sun map can ultimately help your plants to be healthy and happy. If you haven’t heard of a sun map, give it a try today.

Happy Gardening!

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would like to know the best plants to grow in a greenhouse. I have two greenhouses trying to under stand witch plants work best in side?


one idea is to leave a camare in timelapse mode and see how sun and shade dancing in the yard :)

True Leaf Market

Hi Larry, to grow plants in a greenhouse you will want to use self-pollinating varieties. You can also grow open-pollinated varieties as well if you bring pollinators into your greenhouse when your plants are flowering.

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