Landscape Design in the Bay Area Guided by the Sun
When discussing your goals with landscape contractors in the Bay Area, it helps to have some awareness of the sunlight and shade levels on your property. Every setup is different, which means the amount of sunlight your garden gets could differ greatly from other properties in your area.
The amount of shade and sunlight in your yard is a vital factor in planning your garden and landscaping. To maximize the light exposure you have available, you need to know which sections get the most light and vice versa. How might you do this? The answer is easier than you may think: You can create a sun map.
What Is a Sun Map?
A garden sun map is a drawn and written representation of the various parts of a property, with a specific focus on the amount of light and shade in each section. You can use the results of your findings to place your plants in the areas that match their needs for sunlight. You can also use such a map to determine which sections make the most sense for your hardscaping and recreational objectives.
Keeping It Simple
If you think this all sounds too technical or complicated, you can rest assured that it is not. A sun map can be made quite easily by someone with little to no landscaping experience. You only need to follow a few guidelines and exercise a bit of patience. In fact, all you need to get started is a few pieces of paper and a pencil.
The Tools You Will Need
If you want to devise the most basic form of a sun map, just gather five sheets of paper and a pencil. To take the project a bit further, you can replace or augment pencil and paper with a digital camera (or a smartphone with a camera). If you want to be yet more elaborate, you can use a tripod and even software with photo editing features.
Make a Record of the Property
Your first step will be to document the placement of the key features of your property. You don’t need to be a talented artist to do this! You can literally just draw a rough outline of the basic shapes and label them: your house, major features such as a deck, a patio, a porch, tall gates and fences, any trees in or adjacent to your yard, and existing garden areas like flower beds, planters, and garden plots.
Select a Few Times
To get an accurate representation of the amount of sunlight your garden receives, you will need to observe it at various time points throughout the day. If you can’t devote an entire day to this because of other obligations, you may also perform the task over a few consecutive days. Just be sure to make note of the light and shade in each designated area at four times throughout the day, such as at 8:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. This should be done on sunny days when the sky is clear. You may even wish to do this once for each season, so you can gain a true sense of where the light falls at all times of year.
Document the Light and Shade
Once you have chosen which times you prefer, you will go out in your yard and note where the light falls and where the shade is at all the key areas you have sketched. You will have four maps when this is done (one sheet of paper for each time point you selected). At this point, place the four maps (with notes about light and shade) around the fifth map.
Next, look at the five maps, and use them to determine a single description for each part of the property you have drawn. One example would be a side yard: If the side yard was noted as sunny for at least three of the times, you would classify it as “sunny.” If it was shady at least three times during the day, you would mark that down as “shady.” If it was sunny at two times and shady at two times, you can describe it as “partly sunny” or “partly shady.”
Depending on the vision you have for your property, you might do this for every feature and section of your garden, yard, landscaping, and hardscaping. If you want to build an arbor with plants that need plenty of sunlight, now you will know the best places to install it. If you dream of a patio with an outdoor kitchen, your sun map will help you figure out where the most sunlight or shade is, so you may plan accordingly.
Expert Landscape Design in the Bay Area
Developing a sun map can be easy and fun, and it will help you to maximize the sunlight and shade on your property.
Another viable strategy is to use experienced professionals for your landscaping and hardscaping design. Viking Pavers is among the leading outdoor kitchens installers in the Bay Area, and we also offer much more. We love to assist Bay Area homeowners with their landscaping and hardscaping needs, from landscape design in the Bay Area to retaining walls to synthetic lawns to patios to pool decks.