The Importance of Light and Shade - Peer Landscaping, Fort Myers

October 30, 2021by PeerLandscaping

If you’ve ever shopped for plants to put in your yard, you’ve probably noticed the tags that, in addition to the name, say something like full sun, partial sun/shade or shade. Those little care tags serve an important purpose. They give you instructions to ensure your plants thrive.

The cards tell you how often to water your plants, how far they should be planted from one another and how much sun they should get. But how are you supposed to know which parts of your yard are “full” or “partial” sun? What’s exactly the difference? Do you even have a shady part of your yard?

Understanding which plants will do well in which parts of your yard is one of our specialties at Peer Landscaping. Read on to learn more about light and shade plants suitable for your Florida yard.

What You Need to Know About Landscaping in Southwest Florida 

Here in Florida there is a lot of lush tropical greenery and you would think we could grow just about anything. However, that’s not true. We have extreme heat, and when it rains, it pours. During the summer we get lots of rain, and in the winter it can be quite dry. These extremes means to have a gorgeous yard, you must have the right plants, and they must be planted in the right locations to not get burned by the sun or wilt in the shade.

Plants need various amounts of light and shade. Some plants need shade to bear healthy flowers, as full sun exposure could burn some types of flowers and leaves. Many plants require lots of shade and cooler rest periods. Flowering plants like tulips, geraniums, hyacinths, petunias, peony, lilac, snapdragons and irises traditionally need shade and cooler climates than Florida homeowners can offer. That doesn’t mean you can’t grow these favorite landscaping beauties. It just means you have to be strategic about where you place them.

Developing A Strategy For Your Yard

Our staff at Peer Landscaping are experts in the types of plants we can grow here. We can help you determine which plants are best suited for your yard. However, we can’t see your yard all day, every day. We won’t know the secret shady spots or areas that get nonstop sun as well as you will.

That’s why it’s a good idea for you to spend several weeks recording your yard’s light and shade patterns before you even call us for a proposal. If you can show us your yard’s shady spots, as well as the areas that stay in full sun all day, we can design what to plant and where. That’s why Peer Landscaping created these step-by-step instructions below to help you determine the best strategies for developing a composite of your yard.

  • Step 1) Assess Light Patterns
    Study your yard over a couple of days. That means checking on your yard every hour or two. Look for the areas where there is shade and light. Monitor and make note of the times that these areas are covered.
  • Step 2) Mark Your Findings in Your Yard
    Use small flags, yard stakes or stones to mark the edges of areas where shade meets full light. You can even outline areas of full sunlight using yard chalk.
  • Step 3) Record Everything
    Write down any notable sun patterns. If you have an area that is sunny most of the day, but gets shady for a couple of hours or vice versa, make a note of it. Shadows should be written down along with how many hours a day those areas are shady. Mark the exact hours of the day. Here in Southwest Florida, afternoon sunlight closest to sundown can be extremely hot, unlike Northern or Eastern states where it gets much cooler toward dusk.
  • Step 4) Keep Seasonal Factors In Mind
    Don’t let the cooler seasons fool you. If you just trimmed a tree or a normally foliage-covered tree has shed its leaves for the season, make sure you note that as well. We call areas like these illusion spots. In the winter, they may look sunny, but most of the year there will be shady areas.

Extra Credit

If you want to go the extra mile, sketch or draw out the composite on paper. It will allow you and our designer to see a fully developed idea of how the light affects your yard.

Choosing Plants for Full Light

Like many homeowners in the Fort Myers area, you probably have a lot of areas of your yard that are exposed to full sunlight. Planting a beautiful landscape that welcomes sunlight all day is pretty straightforward.

When choosing plants that can take a full day of sunlight in Florida, be prepared for one thing: August. August is an extremely hot month in Florida’s subtropical climate. It’s not ideal for young plants and it can be hard for a new garden. That means having us design your landscaping now will allow your plants time to develop and take a healthy root before the big A-month comes back around.

Choosing Plants for Shade

Partial shade plants and partial sunlight plants can be trickier to select. That’s because your shade may be inconsistent. We need to place plants that need shade in an area that gets consistent shade, such as the side of your home that receives no direct sunlight. We will put plants that can take partial sun in areas that aren’t consistently shaded, such as underneath trees that lose their leaves during the winter. Since the tree will not always provide a consistent amount of shade, putting full shade plants will suffer.

A beautiful shade tree, an ethereal archway or another architectural feature can be an ideal place to plant early spring blooming annual plants that will disappear quietly before the harsh Florida sun can beat them down. However delicate full shade vines would never truly thrive in that type of shade. They could, however, thrive against a shed, outdoor building or permanent structure that would guarantee them protection from the harsh rays of the sun.

Choosing Plants for Your Florida Home

Whether you want specific plants or you just want something that fits your landscape concept, having professional help can be such a boost to your project. Our staff at Peer Landscaping wants to help you choose the best plant life to create your ideal landscape design.

Contact Peer Landscaping to schedule your first appointment. Our expert staff understands the challenges that come with landscaping your property in Florida. We also know how satisfying a beautifully landscaped yard can be.

We offer comprehensive landscaping services to the Fort Myers area. Along with helping you map out your yard and determining the best areas for unique landscaping features, we’ll help you identify plants that will thrive in your space all year long.

Give us a call today at (239) 645-6455 or reach out online for a free estimate.

Looking for other articles on Peer Landscaping landscape design and process. Please check out our archive articles on CityScoop.