Has your property search led you to the perfect new house, but one that has a west facing garden. If so, you may be asking should you buy it? Is a house with a west facing garden a good buy?
So should you buy a house with a west facing garden? If you buy a house with a west facing garden the front of the house enjoys sunlight in the morning. The back garden will be drenched in sunshine the whole afternoon after 1pm and into the evening. The sun sets in the west so you’ll be able to watch great sunsets in your west-facing back garden.
Side note: This article is written for those living in the northern hemisphere. This includes the UK, North America and Europe. But if you live in the southern Hemisphere, like Australia and New Zealand, substitute south for north. In the southern hemisphere the sun still rises in the east. But the sun tracts around the sky to the north instead of to the south.
What is meant by west facing garden or yard?
A west facing garden means if you stand in the back garden with your back to the house looking to the bottom of the garden, you’ll be facing due west. To check if your garden is west-facing you need a compass.
To check the direction of your garden, download a compass app on your your smartphone. With the compass app open, point your phone towards the bottom of the garden. If it’s west-facing the compass dial will be pointing west or 270° (as per the above image). This image was taken using an app called “Compass“.
Does a west facing garden get sun?
A house with a west facing garden will enjoy the sun all afternoon. It will get full sunlight from 1pm onwards and until it sets in the west.
How much sun a west facing garden gets towards the afternoon depends on what obstacles are in the way. Like other houses and tall trees. The shadows to the left of a west facing garden are affected by the height of any obstacles on this side of the garden.
During the summer months a west facing garden will begin to get sunlight late morning.
West facing garden sunlight sun diagram
The above west facing garden sun diagram shows the shadow the sun will create in a west facing garden at midday. This is caused by the house blocking the sunlight. This means the right-side of the house will be in shade (i.e. the north side).
As the sun passes midday the whole of the garden will be in sunlight.
What are the benefits of a west facing garden?
They say that “west is best“, but is this the case?
- The rooms at the front of the house get plenty of sun first thing in the morning as the sun rises in the east.
- With a west-facing garden you will experience great sun-sets as it sets in the west.
- The back garden will enjoy the sun for most of the afternoon. But this depends on what tall obstacles like houses and trees that might block the sun. Tall trees and houses to the left of the garden (i.e. to the south) may affect how much sun the garden gets late afternoon.
- Estate agents often consider west-facing to be the best aspect, followed by south-facing gardens.
- West facing gardens are great for evening sun in the summer months.
- West facing gardens don’t get as hot as south-facing gardens, which is why they are described as west is best.
- The rooms to the rear of the house will be bright with sunlight for the whole of the afternoon.
- West facing gardens are good for growing plants that love sunshine.
- West facing gardens are good for lawns.
- The front bedrooms of a house with a west facing back garden are great if you love to wake up to bright sunshine in the morning.
What are the disadvantages of a west-facing garden?
- Rooms at the back of a house with a west-facing garden can get very hot in the afternoon in the summer.
- Conservatories on the back of a house with a west facing garden get very hot in the summer months.
- The back garden will be in the shade in the morning.
- Rooms at the front of a house will be extremely bright first thing in the morning, which is not for everyone.
- The front garden will be in shade in the afternoon.
- Tall obstacles to the left of the house (i.e. to the south) may block the afternoon sun. This is especially the case in the winter months.
- Depending on what’s at the bottom of the garden (i.e. tall trees or houses), the setting sun can be dazzling.
- If you’re fair-skinned you may not like a west-facing garden due to how much sunlight it gets in the afternoon.
- If you have children you may not want them to play in the garden until late afternoon when the sun is not as strong.
What will help you to decide if a west facing garden is right for you?
The best way to decide if a west facing garden is right for you is to view the property at different times of the day.
You should at least walk past the property at different times to see how much sunlight hits the garden. If the vendors are keen to sell, they should be willing to oblige if you ask them to visit the property more than once.
In fact this article about viewing a property again before you you buy would be worth a read. If you explain your concerns about checking how the sunlight hits the garden, they should understand.
Will a sun app help you decide if a west facing garden is the right choice?
Having a sun app may also help you decide if a west facing garden is good or bad. You can download the app on your smartphone. The one I use is “Sun Position and Path“.
The above screen shot was taken from the Sun Position and Path app. Included on the sun position screen is the following information:
- Compass north, as marked on the above image to the top left.
- The sun’s rotation and daily position by hour for summer, which is indicated in red.
- The sun’s rotation and daily position by hour for winter, which is indicated in blue.
- Orange indicates the sun’s rotation and daily position by hour for the time of year you view the app.
- Your position will be indicated on the screen with a blue dot. But you can position the map anywhere you like, as I’ve done in the above screenshot. When you first open the app, it will position the cross of the lines exactly over your current position.
Alternative apps include “Mr Sun” and “Light Trac” too, both of these apps are also free to download and use. Which apps are available to you will depend on whether your smartphone is Android or Apple.
Northern hemisphere vs southern hemisphere solar noon
In the Northern Hemisphere (which is north of the Tropic of Cancer) the sun is due south as seen by the observer at solar noon. But in the Southern Hemisphere (i.e. south of the Tropic of Capricorn) it is due north.
If you didn’t know, countries like the UK, USA, Canada and the whole of Europe are all in the Northern Hemisphere. Whereas, countries including Australia and New Zealand are in the Southern Hemisphere.
In the northern hemisphere the sun tracks round to the south. Whereas in the southern hemisphere the sun tracks round to the north.
For southern hemisphere gardens the only difference with a west facing garden is the midday sun will be to the right (i.e. to the north) of the house vs to the left (i.e. to the south) for a northern hemisphere house.
Final tips before you buy a house with a west facing garden
Before you buy a house with a west facing garden check what tall obstacles are to the left of the garden as you look towards the bottom of the back garden.
If the house is a new-build and you are buying off-plan check to see what houses will be built to the left of your back garden, which is to the south.
Please don’t forget to read this before you leave…
Please don’t forget to also read this article to discover how you could save £71,475 on your next mortgage if you sell your house and rent before buying again. As I said earlier, even I was amazed when I did the calculations!
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