North facing garden ideas

fireplace image by Mat Hayward from

North facing gardens lie in heavy shade most of the day during winter months and may have as little as two hours of sunlight during summer months. Study the garden site to determine the amount of shade it receives, the soil type, the temperature, and the water needs of plants that can be grown.

An attractive north facing garden can be planted when a gardener identifies the basic needs of the plants and how to meet those needs. These gardens also benefit from statuary, water features, fireplaces or heat lamps, and colourful seating arrangements.

Fern-Leaf Maple

Japanese maple leaf image by Dan65 from

Plant a small tree to bring colour into the north facing garden. A fern-leaf maple, also known as a Japanese maple, will accent the space. Its foliage is dark green and the leaves are deeply cut. In the spring the blossoms are white and maroon. It grows in shade to 8 to 12 feet tall.

Wood Ferns

ferns image by TMLP from

There are more than 100 wood fern species from all over the world. They like well-drained soil, consistent water, and shelter from wind. A north-facing space against a wall is a good place for ferns. The dryopteris erythrosora is one of few ferns with seasonal colour with fronds in spring are a blend of copper, pink and yellow. Most ferns grow from 2 to 5 feet tall.


Ivy image by Tomasz Pawlowski from

To cover north-facing walls choose dark-green ivy. The ivy will gradually grow up the wall, adding a green background to the garden. Ivy is easy to grow; it will tolerate neglect in soil conditions, water, and fertiliser. It grows best in partial or deep shade.


impatiens image by palms from

Impatiens can be tucked into many spaces on a north facing garden. These bright blooms will grow well in borders, under trees, or under ferns. This annual plant prefers light to dense shade and moderate water through the season. The succulent stems grow 6 to 18 inches tall and the flowers show in shades of pink, dark pink, mauve, salmon, orange, and white.


Blue hydrangea image by gnohz from

These beauties boast big, bold leaves with long-lasting flowers that bloom in white, pink, red, and blue. The plant can be an anchor in a north-facing garden. It thrives best in climates with mild winters. The plant should be pruned after bloom. It grows 4 to 8 feet high.