The aspect of the spot where you want to put a plant relates to the direction which that place faces. It is generally used to describe planting locations which are either on a slope or next to a wall or similar barrier.

For example, if a planting location is north facing, the front of the slope, wall, etc  is towards the north.

A site’s aspect is important as it can have a big impact on which plants will grow there successfully:

North facing sites

  • Receive less sunlight.
  • Tend to be cooler and warm up later in the season.
  • Will have fewer extremes of hot and cold.

South facing sites

  • Receive more sunlight.
  • Tend to be warmer and warm up earlier in the season.
  • May be too dry for some plants.

East facing sites

  • Will receive more sunlight in the morning.

West facing sites

  • Will receive more sunlight in the afternoon and evening.

(These descriptions are for northern hemisphere locations, however the same principles apply in the southern hemisphere).

Depending on your local climate, different aspects will also receive more or less rainfall (for example, in the UK west or south-west facing slopes generally receive a higher rainfall). The direction of the prevailing wind in your area will also make sites more or less exposed depending on their aspect.

Understanding the aspect of areas of your garden can be important for placing more than just plants. If you are positioning a greenhouse, a veg patch or a patio where you want to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine, then you need to check what direction each potential site is facing.