If you’re on the lookout for a new property, you may be wondering what the pros and cons of a south facing garden are.
It’s one of those things that’s often touted as the holy grail of property hunting.
Our last two houses have both had south-facing gardens, whereas our first property had a north-facing one. Therefore, we’ve experienced both sides of the coin so are well placed to advise you based on what we learned.
So, is having a south facing garden worth paying extra for or should you save your cash? Let’s take a look.
What Does ‘A South Facing Garden’ Mean?
A property with a south facing garden is simply when the garden of the property faces mostly south.
It is usually the rear garden that’s considered for this description since that’s the garden most people spend their time in.
The garden could be slightly off facing southwards and still be classed as ‘south-facing’.
Anything from South-East through to South-West can be described as south-facing.
This is the case in our current home where the rear of the property faces slightly south-east. We get the sun in the morning and through most of the day, however, by late afternoon or evening in the summer, the sun is starting to appear in our front garden.
Despite this, it was still sold as ‘south-facing’ when we bought it and no doubt will be described as that when we eventually sell, too!
How To Tell If A Garden Is South Facing
Most estate agents will mention if a garden is considered south-facing due to the extra appeal it creates.
However, there is no harm checking properties you are interested in yourself.
One of the easiest ways is to go to Google Maps and find the property you want to investigate. Switch to the ‘Satellite View’ and zoom in until the garden is clearly visible.
Avoid rotating the map, the default position of a Google Map is that North is at the top and South is at the bottom. Therefore, if the garden is facing the bottom of the screen, it’s south-facing.
You can also tell simply by standing in the garden and looking where the sun is.
The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so if you stand facing the end of the garden and the sun rises to your left and sets to your right, you are facing south.
At its highest point, the sun is directly south. That’s why having a garden facing the south is usually considered preferable to a north facing garden.
Advantages Of A South Facing Garden
So, let’s get on to the main pros and cons of a south facing garden, starting with the ‘pros’.
There are a number of advantages, including:
- Warmer – it’s likely you’ll be able to sit in the sun and enjoy your garden for longer periods than a north facing garden
- Less Damp/Moss – Because the garden will be sunnier, things like moss and damp will be less of a problem
- Growing Plants – If you like growing fruit and vegetables, they’ll love the long sunny days facing south
- Drying Clothes – Your washing will dry much quicker when hung in a sunny southerly facing garden
- Less Heating – Even in winter you may find rooms that face south need less heating to stay warm
Of course, there are other advantages of a south facing garden but that covers some of the main ones.
Personally, I love our south-facing garden and when we move, it’ll certainly be a bonus if our next house also has a south-facing garden. Sure, it comes with negatives (as I’ll get into in a moment) but being able to sit in the sun from early morning to late afternoon is a big plus for me.
We’ve also found our polytunnel really benefits from the amount of sunlight our south-facing garden gets, though we do have to make sure we vent it on warmer days to prevent it overheating. The tomato plants love it though and we’ve had our best harvests of peppers since we gained a south facing garden.
Disadvantages Of A South Facing Garden
But, it’s not all plain sailing.
There are also a number of disadvantages, including:
- Too Hot – At the height of summer, a south facing garden can end up getting too hot to enjoy!
- The ‘North’ Side – The other side of the house may suffer more from damp and moss
- Inconsistent Room Temperatures – You’ll often find rooms at the south side are too warm, while rooms on the north side are too cold!
- Fading Colours – Furniture such as curtains, sofas, and even walls tend to fade in the relentless sunlight
- Cracked Walls – The constant changes in temperature and moisture levels can eventually cause walls to crack!
Therefore it’s clear, it’s not always the case that a south facing garden is best.
In our previous home, the south facing garden had actually contributed to the cracks we had in our retaining garden wall. We had it checked by a structural surveyor and they said it had been caused by thermal expansion and contraction due to the south facing nature of the garden!
We also found the coating of our flat roof deteriorated quicker in full sun and needed regularly recoating. We should probably have also covered it in small stones for extra protection.
Another issue we found was that our cats would often lie in the sun all day, often overheating and throwing up. Plus, of course, there’s the risk of them getting sunburned. So if you have pets and a south-facing garden, it’s worth keeping an eye on them and trying to encourage them into the shade.
If you do have a garden that faces south then you’ll probably need to invest in some form of sun shade like these on Amazon in order to protect your furniture.
Best-Selling Sun Shade On Amazon:
- Material: Ankuka sunshade sail, made of brand new high-density polyester with a waterproof coating (220 g / m²), resistant to water and tears, but not recommended to use in heavy rain or adverse weather conditions.
- UV protection: Our sun sail protects against harmful UV rays from passing through the awning. Let you and your family enjoy a safe and cool area in the garden or patio.
- Light but powerful fabric: double-edged sewing threads and stainless steel D-rings give stability and resistance to the garden sun shade, making both sides more robust. (NOTE: The shade sail is usually stitched together from two or three pieces of fabric, not single piece.)
Do South Facing Gardens Get Evening Sun?
The great thing about a south facing garden is that you get the sun all day long. In the morning, the sun will rise to your left. In the evening the sun will be to your right.
Providing there are no large obstacles to the sides of your garden, you will get morning, afternoon, and evening sun if your garden faces south.
Though as we mentioned, in our house the sun goes around the front by late afternoon as we are partially east-facing. If you’re pure fouth-facing or slightly to the west, this may not be an issue.
So, What Is The Best Way For A Garden To Face?
As you can see, there are several pros and cons of a south facing garden which makes it hard to determine which is the best way for a garden to face.
Some would argue that south facing is always best so you can enjoy the sunlight at any time of the day.
Some would argue that a west facing garden is better for sitting in the evening sun. Others will prefer an east facing garden for sitting and having breakfast in the sun.
Generally, most people try and avoid north facing rear gardens simply because of the lack of sunlight.
Ultimately which is right for you will depend on exactly what you’re looking for and what you use your garden for.
Personally, I prefer south-facing but I’m also happy with it being more south-east or south-west as you still get the sun most of the day. While I wouldn’t be put off a house just because it wasn’t at least partially south-facing, it would be a negative that would count against it.
Having now lived with a south-facing rear garden since 2016, I think I’d struggle to go back to not having it!
Does Having A South Facing Garden Affect The Value Of A Property?
Because having a south facing garden is often cited as a big positive when estate agents are writing the property description, most people believe it adds value to a home.
While it’s true that it may help the property appeal to more people compared to say a north facing garden, it doesn’t necessarily push up the value of the house.
In fact, a study by Direct Line found that, on average, a property with a south facing garden only sells for around 0.37% more than one without.
That said, while it may not push up the value, there’s a chance a property with a south-facing rear garden will at least appeal to more potential buyers and therefore sell faster.
So, as you can see, there are plenty of pros and cons of a south facing garden, but an increased property value doesn’t appear to be one of them.
For that reason, you are best off just choosing whether or not a southerly facing rear garden is on your ‘must-have’ list based on its own merits rather than its price.
If you’d like to know what could affect the price you pay for a property, check out our article entitled ‘What Affects The Price Of A House?‘.