How to Determine the Amount of Sunlight Your Garden Gets

Posted on Jan 25 2012 - 1:02am by Mike Lieberman

What can I grow?

That’s the most common question that I get asked.

First, you’ll have to decide on the location of your urban garden.

Then you’ll have to determine how much sunlight your garden space gets.

There are four main categories of sunlight:

  • Full sun. 6+ hours of direct sunlight.
  • Partial sun. 4-5 hours of direct sunlight.
  • Partial shade. 2-4 hours of direct sunlight.
  • Shade Less than 1 hour of direct sunlight.

Since we are living in urban environments, we have other structures that we are dealing with as well. Those can be adjacent buildings, over hangs and walls.

I would assume that most of us fall into the partial sun category and below.

Easily figure out how much sunlight you get

A simple way to figure out how much sunlight your space gets is to monitor it throughout the day.

All you have to do is pop outside for less than a minute every few hours and take some quick notes.

Start off with a quick sketch of your garden space. Section it off as the day progresses because the surrounding structures will cast shade in certain areas.

Here is a video of what the process looks like from my balcony garden:

[vimeo clip_id=”35606437″ title=”0″ byline=”0″ portrait=”0″ width=”525″ height=”393″]

Once you know how much sunlight your garden gets, the list of what you can grow has been narrowed down for you.

My balcony gets only three hours of direct sunlight. Based on that my selection is limited down to certain herbs and vegetables. This is why I’m growing a lot of greens.

Now you can repeat the same process and leave a comment below to let me know how much sunlight your urban garden gets.