Have you ever wandered around a nursery looking at sun-loving plants and wondering where you could plant them? Surely, you say, this garden bed or that garden bed gets full sun. You remember your garden in the early morning or late afternoon and know that light flooded it.
How can you realistically determine the actual amount of sunlight hours an area gets? Doing so will require an entire day outdoors or you could break it up over three or four days.
Start by making a drawing of your yard, indicating directions and including things that could cast a shadow, such as trees, fence, an arbor, or hedge. Note other features such as low areas, utility areas, patios, decks, etc.
As early as you can, go out and watch the sun. On your map every thirty minutes, make a note where the sun has touched and is still touching. When you have finished, you can use this as a guide to make another map that shows the total number of hours each area gets sun.
Some things will affect the amount of sunlight in your yard. The time of year (angle of the sun) and lack of foliage on deciduous trees are just two factors.
With map in hand, revisit the nursery and find the perfect spot for that sun-loving plant.
Jan Moch, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service