Mar 03

How to Make a Sun Map

by Hannah Holt »

Comments Off on How to Make a Sun Map

We’re landscaping our backyard. By “we,” I mean my minions and me.

Line Level

{Aren’t my minions cute?}

My top priority for landscaping is food: I want my yard to grow stuff I can eat. So the first step of this insane exciting project was making a sun map.

Growing fruits and veggies takes sun and lots of it. So I need to know how much sun my yard gets and where.

First I made a sketch of my backyard (I traced over a google satellite image):

blank yard

Then I made ten copies and waited for a sunny day. Here in Oregon that can take a while…

When a sunny day arrived, I kept watch for the first hour of sun in my yard and sketched the area with direct sunlight


Every hour, I made a similar map until the sun went down. I’ll admit, I couldn’t stay home and watch the sun all day. I made my maps over a few days. However, you’ll probably want to make your map within a week to avoid sun shifting (more on that later).

After I had charted out all my hours of sun, I made a cumulative map:

February Sun Map

The purple area gets 6+ hours of sun, so that’s the best space for planting. The white area gets no direct sunlight (at least in February), so I probably want to avoid planting along the southern fence.

FYI, I did this same process at the end of January. Here’s my¬† sun map for January:

January Sun Map

Notice my January yard has fewer places with direct sunlight and those places get fewer hours of sun. Soooo….

1) Why does my yard get fewer hours of sun in January than February?

2) What do you think my sun map would look like in March?

(Answer 1: I live in the Northern Hemisphere, so the sun angle is lower in January compared to February. My southern fence casts a longer shadow in January. Answer 2: The angle of the sun continues to climb until mid-summer, so my March map will have more areas of sun and longer hours of sun than February.)

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