24 North-Facing Garden Ideas To Raise Your Outdoor Space Appeal

24 North-Facing Garden Ideas To Raise Your Outdoor Space Appeal

Foraging for north-facing garden ideas? There are plenty of simple tricks that will make your north-facing garden look and feel as sunny and inviting as possible. North-facing gardens have a bad reputation for being darker and overall less cheerful than south-facing gardens. However, many people are not aware that north-facing gardens still typically get three to four hours of sunlight during the UK summerSo, don’t let preconceptions put a dampener on your design plans: there are still plenty of UK north-facing garden design ideas that can create a stunning outdoor space for your home.

There are plenty of ways to create a stunning, inviting space that your friends and family simply can’t stay away from, from planting herbs and vegetables to incorporating bright, colourful garden furniture and outdoor lightingLawns, patios, trees and flower beds are some of the most popular garden features, according to a 2021 survey of UK garden owners by PrimaPorcelain. All of these can work well in a north-facing garden.

Use the following guide to narrow down your north-facing garden ideas and decide what to do with a north-facing garden. We’ll help you select the best plants, lighting, furniture and other garden features for your space.


The pros and cons of north-facing gardens

Before you get started with your UK north-facing garden design, it’s best to know exactly what you’re dealing with.


What are the disadvantages of a north-facing garden?

Let’s start with the disadvantages of having a north-facing garden.

  • They spend a significant amount of the day in the shade.
  • They are cooler and damper.
  • Shady conditions make it harder to grow certain fruits and vegetables.
  • They may feel less inviting in a cold climate.

What are the advantages of a north-facing garden?

In turn, this gives north-facing gardens some advantages over south-facing gardens. 

  • North-facing gardens grow lusher, greener plants such as ferns.
  • They get evening sunshine, including a stunning golden hour.
  • They offer good conditions for growing some herbs and vegetables.
  • They provide more protection from sunburn.
  • There are shaded areas for outdoor furniture and seating.
  • Very large north-facing gardens get sun and shade.


Is a north-facing garden a property deal-breaker?

A north-facing garden will probably only be a property deal-breaker if it is small. If the house has a small north-facing garden, it may not get much sun at all because the house will block the sun throughout the day and most of the evening. However, most north-facing gardens get at least three to four hours of evening sunshine, which should be plenty for the average person. Unless you want to spend a full day sunbathing at home, there is plenty of time to enjoy a variety of sun and shade throughout the day.

There are plenty of workarounds to make the space feel brighter and more inviting when it is in the shade. Plus, you may get a great deal: properties with north-facing gardens are often more attractively priced than those with south-facing gardens.


24 north-facing garden ideas to make the most of your outdoor space

Find plants and flowers that grow best in north-facing garden conditions

No clue about what grows well in a north-facing garden? Many plants and flowers thrive on just a few hours of sunlight per day, especially ferns, which can provide lush, thick foliage. Climbing plants such as ivy and sarcococca are also good choices; they can cling to a trellis or cleverly placed pergolas.

3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in White

Woodland and Japanese-style gardens are great small north-facing front or back garden ideas. The RHS offers good advice on plants for north-facing gardens — you could try growing:

  • Perennials
  • Ferns
  • Bulbs
  • Foxglove
  • Forget-me-not
  • Pansy

Grow vegetables in your north-facing garden

A north-facing garden is an invitation to get green-fingered. But you may be wondering, “What grows well in north-facing garden?” According to the RHS, some top-notch vegetables for shade gardening are lettuce, peas, kale, beetroot, baby carrots and peas. 


Choose pavers, gravel or decking instead of a lawn

It’s hard to keep a healthy lawn in a north-facing garden, so one of the best ideas is to move the lawn to the back of your garden and introduce more pavement or gravel nearer to the house. Why not try decking too? Decking is a great location to bring to life eye-catching outdoor kitchen ideas or north facing garden patio ideas. It also provides an even surface for garden furniture.

Paia 3 Seat Sofa Set in Linen - £1,749


Plant a herb garden

You can easily transform your north-facing garden into a cook’s garden by planting shade-loving herbs such as chives, coriander, parsley, oregano and mint. Even better if you’re planning on alfresco cooking, as the herbs will go straight from the soil to the pan.

Source - Pinterest


Enhance the space with lighting to keep it bright and inviting

Outdoor lighting can hugely enhance a north-facing garden. For warm tones, consider incorporating solar lights and fire pits. Spotlights or floor lamps can be used to illuminate darker areas of the garden, making the entire space look brighter. Most outdoor lights use LED bulbs which are weather-resistant.

Bob Large Table Light in Charcoal - £69.99


Add loungers and embrace your garden’s shaded respite from the sun

Why not embrace the shade? Loungers can be placed in the shade so that family members can read a book without worrying about sunburn or getting too hot. On a hot summer’s day, this can be an incredible respite.

Hatia Double Sun Lounger with Side Table in Latte - £1,899


Add outdoor seating to create a homely, inviting space

Rule number one of owning a north-facing garden: feel free to go crazy with your outdoor living space ideas. Outdoor seating is your quickest ticket to creating a homely, inviting outdoor space. You could purchase a dining set, a rustic bench or a modern rattan suite; all three will help you to spend more time outdoors.

Quay 6 Seat Round Dining Set in Linen - £1,749

Quay Corner Dining Set with Armchair in Linen - £2,549


Go for light-coloured furniture and paving to brighten the space

One of the easiest ways to make your garden pop is by bringing in light-coloured furniture with pastels, oranges, white, coral and light blues. Add a lick of cream or white to your paving too. This will instantly brighten up your garden.

Yosemite 3 Seat Sofa Set In Glacier - £2,599


Enjoy your north-facing garden year-round by adding heating or a fire pit

North-facing gardens get the least amount of sunlight in the winter. However, there are winter garden ideas which can keep your garden feeling inviting. A patio heater or firepit means that you can use your north-facing garden year-round without worrying about catching a cold. 

Luna 3 Seat Outdoor Fabric Sofa Set with Rising Firepit Table in Grey - £3,999


Create a beautiful space with romantic lighting

The more inviting your space is, the better. Romantic lighting ideas such as firepits, solar lanterns or LED strip lights can make your garden a stunning date-night destination.

Luna 6 Seat Outdoor Fabric Teak Firepit Bar Set in Oyster Grey - £3,849


Add eye-catching water features

Water features add texture and movement to the garden, moving the attention away from dark patches. If you want to hit two birds with one stone, look for a water feature with LED lights.

Source - Pinterest 


Turn a small north-facing garden into something special with coloured textiles

Small north-facing gardens can be trickier to work with, as they get fewer hours of sunlight. Coloured textiles are one of the simplest north-facing front garden design ideas to add more texture and colour. This could be something like a light cream parasol, neon deckchairs or a set of bright weather-resistant cushions.

Cape 2 Seat Sofa Set in Beige - £2,599


Add lighter foliage plants to enhance your small north-facing front garden ideas

Light foliage and indoor plants don’t need much sun. You could add a sword fern, dracaena, peace lily or spider plant to your UK north-facing garden design ideas.


Source - Pinterest


Add an outdoor dining area

Turning part — or indeed all — of your north-facing garden into a dining area gives you a daily reason to go outdoors. Adding the dining area to the back of your garden, which gets more hours of sunlight, might seem counterintuitive but it’s one of the best north-facing garden patio ideas.

Kalama 8 Seat Rectangular Dining Set with Teak Table in Latte - £2,549


Set up a pergola

A pergola is another versatile UK north-facing garden design idea. Modern pergolas feature louvred roofs, which allow you to block or let in filtered sunlight. A pergola is a great space for outdoor cooking and other activities.

PergoSTET 3m x 4m Rectangular Pergola with 3 Drop Sides and LED Lighting in Grey - £3,999


Invest in moveable furniture to track the light

When you’re choosing garden furniture, you’ll want to think about how you can maximise your time in the sun. Moveable furniture is one of the easiest ways to chase the sun until it sets. A sun lounger or garden chair is lightweight and portable.

Luna Outdoor Fabric Sun Lounger in Oyster Grey - £799


Set up a simple outdoor kitchen

An outdoor kitchen will bring yet more life to your north-facing garden, and it doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. A barbecue and a portable table are all you need to entertain the family and cook safely when the garden is in the shade.


Napoleon 700 Series 32" Built-in Gas Grill - £2,220


Get a pizza oven

One of the most modern outdoor kitchen pieces is a pizza oven. These eye-catching features draw the eyes away from the garden’s dark patches, as well as provide hours of fun. A pizza oven in white, cream or terracotta will help brighten up the garden even more.

Juno 12" Pellet Pizza Oven - £249


Create a colour scheme for the entire garden

The best north-facing garden design ideas in the UK have a bright, playful colour scheme. Blue, yellow and white are popular colour combinations for a cheerful backyard. Coral and blue or lime green and cream also work well in pairs.

Monterrey Rope Rectangular Corner Dining Set with Rising Table in Grey (Right Hand) - £3,249


Fill the shaded spaces with a bar set or dining set

A modern bar or dining set can help you make the most of the shaded spaces in your north-facing garden. Better yet, a bar set with an integrated fire pit will add more light.

Kalama 8 Seat Rectangular Dining Set with Teak Table in Latte - £2,549


String fairy lights or festoon lights

A fun, flirty lighting idea for a north-facing garden is to string up festoon lights or fairy lights. These north-facing wall garden ideas can make the space feel more inviting and add a trickle of light to walls, trellises or pergolas.


Source - Pinterest


Put furniture at the end of the garden

The last place to lose sunlight in a north-facing garden is the back of the garden. If you want to make the most of the evening light, place furniture at the end of the garden to soak up the last moments of light.

Luna Outdoor Fabric Corner Group Set with Firepit Coffee Table in Grey - £3,999


Get some potted plants which can be moved around the garden

When it comes to what grows well in north-facing garden, potted plants work wonders. Firstly, flowers and plants will help bring the garden to life even when it is in the shade. Secondly, colourful, stylish pots add personality. If the plant needs more sunlight, it can also be moved to a different part of the garden.

Salina Corner Group Set with Aluminium Table in Latte - £3,349


Get furniture with different textures

Combining different textures is pleasing to the eye. A simple way to add texture is to buy a variety of rattan, rope and wood furniture.

Bay Corner Group Set with 4 Waist Pillows Teak Table in Olive Green - £3,499


Final Thoughts

With so many ideas to enhance a north-facing garden, it’s easy to make your space feel bright and welcoming even when it is in the shade. 

“For budding outdoor chefs, north-facing gardens can be perfect for setting up your garden kitchen,” says Joel Garthwaite, Chief Marketing Officer at Harbour Lifestyle, for Ideal Home.


Whether you set up a cook’s garden, north facing garden patio ideas or a full outdoor kitchen, the high-quality products by Harbour Lifestyle can be the ticket to a lively, modern garden. Start by browsing garden furniture, outdoor lighting or outdoor cooking to find some inspiration for your own north-facing garden ideas.

North-facing garden idea FAQs

Is a north-facing garden bad?

A north-facing garden gets fewer hours of sunlight than a south-facing garden, but it is not necessarily bad. 

More shade means you can spend more time outdoors without worrying about sunburn. North-facing gardens also usually get three to four hours of sunlight in the evening, which is great if you work most of the day. Plus, north-facing gardens have good conditions for growing herbs, ferns and vegetables.

How do you maximise a north-facing garden?

The far end of a north-facing garden gets the most hours of sunlight, so this is a good location for outdoor furniture or north facing garden patio ideas. Shaded areas in a north-facing garden are good for growing evergreen plants, vegetables or herbs. Outdoor lighting and furniture can also bring more colour and light to a north-facing garden.

Will a north-facing garden get sun?

North-facing gardens sit in the shade for the majority of the day. However, in summer, north-facing gardens usually get three to four hours of sunlight. The smaller the garden, the less sun it will get.

What are the disadvantages of a north-facing garden?

A north-facing garden gets less sunlight than a south-facing garden. It can be harder to grow some fruits, flowers and vegetables. With less sun, you might feel tempted to spend less time outdoors.