Hours of sun

OvergrownGrassMay 18, 2014

I'm completely new to landscaping and I literally know nothing about it. Home Depot said I needed to determine how many hours of sunlight each of my landscape areas will get in order to determine the type of plants that I should use (shade vs sun).

Since the sunlight time is constantly changing, am I supposed to use an average from the beginning of Spring through the end of Summer?

Also, between places like Home Depot and nurseries, which is generally the least expensive? I have SO much landscaping to do, and I really don't want to spend thousands of dollars. I have the front, back and sides to landscape between the house foundation and where the sod starts.

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Home Depot made it sound like determining the amount of sunlight an area gets is a difficult thing.

Just go outside and look at your proposed garden spots and see if areas are sunny, partially sunny (filtered through trees, etc.), shady - might take a minute or two throughout the day... in the morning, at noon, and late afternoon. Make brief notes if necessary.

Pictures would help; so would knowing which direction your house faces as well as your location/zone. Are you looking to plant trees, shrubs, blooming perennials, annuals - a combination of all? Plant tags tell you the conditions they require. Internet is loaded with info and people here on the forums are helpful with what they know and have experienced.

Some people shudder at the thought of purchasing plants from the Walmart, Home Depot or other big box parking lot garden centers. They are less expensive and in many cases well tended and healthy - as has been my experience here. You can kill an expensive plant from an exclusive nursery just as fast with improper preparation and planting.

It's daunting when you're new at it, but it should also be fun.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 11:59AM
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Thank you for your response.

I guess my concern was that plants were labeled as needing a certain number of direct sun hours or labeled with a limit on a certain number of direct sun. Based on your post, maybe it's a bit more simple than that. Maybe something like "requires sun" or "requires shade". If it's as simple as that, what are the sun hour limits of a plant that requires shade? Can I plant that somewhere that gets 5 hours of sun everyday? How about 6? I'm probably way over analyzing this.

I was told that I should plant bushes, perennials and annuals because they bloom at different times. Use the annuals to give some color before the perennials have bloomed. I was also told that some perennials bloom early Spring and others don't bloom until closer to Fall, and I could use a mixture of these perennials to have some blooming while others won't bloom until later.

That's good to know that the nurseries are more expensive than places like HD. For now, I will be staying out of nurseries.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 11:21PM
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Sometimes I'm an over-thinker myself. And it's not an altogether bad thing.

For a plant labeled "sun" - 6 to 8 hours, more or less, is plenty. I have a big island bed on the East side of my house that is in sun from sun up until the house shades it when the sun starts to set.

Shade and partial shade are the most confusing... but a shade plant can handle several hours of sun - preferably morning or late afternoon. Partial shade plants should have relief when the sun is most intense. Dappled or filtered sun works for the partials

My patio faces north, but it gets enough sun to handle some perennials as well as whatever annuals for all season color that strike my fancy every year.

West side is dappled/filtered light through old Spruce trees - good for hosta, ninebark shrubs, Northern Lights azaleas, bleeding hearts, ferns, and some of the minor bulb like muscari and scilla.

For economics, many perennials can be split and divided every couple of years to increase your plants - Siberian iris and daylilies to name just two. I buy local, wherever I find what I want, be it a big box or a nursery. Have nothing against mail order, but I don't care about the rare or exotic and I want to pick up a plant and inspect it rather than getting some wispy little specimen in a box by delivery truck. I've gotten many nice annuals, perennials, blooming shrubs, and conifers at Home Depot, Walmart, Lowes, Menard's so I never thumb my nose of those places. And they all guarantee their plants for a year. Pays to get there as they're putting out their new stock though... go early and often.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 2:00AM
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I "second" Duluth's viewpoint of non-snobbishness in regard to the big box stores. When I'm after something specific, I don't care where I find it and many times, it happens to show up at the big box stores. I'm in the Tampa, Fl. area and for the most part, prices are roughly the same at nurseries and big boxes. I can buy wholesale at the right places, but often they don't have what I'm looking for, and generally, when it comes to buying for myself, I'm only looking for a "starter plant" so don't wish to bother wholesalers with it. From that point on I propagate as many as I need and frequently, a surplus. Buy some Rootone. Learn to propagate. It will save you big bucks and the learning curve is not great. It's fun, too! Some things can be started easily from seed. While waiting for permanent plants to fill in, the empty spaces can often be filled with seed-grown annuals of various sorts.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 11:16AM
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Hi! I'm a newbie gardener/landscaper with a new house and a square of dirt -- never so much as planted a flower. I've learned so much over the past year and a half! My advice is to take your time and learn a bit about landscape design and your site before you start slapping down plants.

Here are some suggestions:

--go to the library and start checking out their landscape and garden books for education and inspiration.

--look for local resources -- master gardeners and county extensions are invaluable for learning techniques and local plants

--Find out about your site: Where is north? Where does the sun rise/set at different times of the year. Observe where the shade is. What kind of soil do you have? What plants are native to your area. Where is your water coming from and going on your property? How cold does it get (what is your hardiness zone). Are there views you want to block or preserve?

--What do you want to use your yard for: Dogs? Kids? Entertaining? look pretty? Determining your needs and functions will go a long way toward telling you want you need to put there.

--Don't try to do it all at once -- think of a four year plan. Do the hardscape and trees first! Hardscape is messy and upsetting to plants. Trees are important.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 7:16PM
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