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    Profile photo of Amanda11

    Hello all,

    This is my first year in my new home, located in a Zone 5b area where most houses have one to two acres each. Being partially surrounded by woods (and having a few extra-tall trees on the property as well) I was posed with a pretty common gardening problem: determining what areas received full sunlight, which were part-shade, and which were full shade. I stumbled onto the solution to figuring this out, and after testing it, wanted to share a fairly accurate way to quickly determine how much sunlight areas receive.

    I found two good quality solar light sets that were offered really cheap on closeout at Costco at the end of the season last year (16 total for the two sets), and tossed them in the garage to wait out the winter. In the Spring I tested all of them to make sure they worked the same by putting them to charge in an area I knew received full sunlight, then let them fully deplete in the dark garage, making sure they all stayed on the same amount of time. Once the trees had their full sets of leaves, I put them in various areas of the gardens where I would be planting. Full sundown usually occurs in our property around 9pm:

    Lights dim/go out 3-4 hours after sundown: Shade
    Lights dim/go out 4-6 hours after sundown: Part-Shade
    Lights dim/go out 6+ hours: Full Sun

    It’s not an EXACT science, but when you have a wooded area or a few large trees on your property it can really wreak havoc on the amounts of sunlight your plantings need. This was much easier than learning the hard way when my plantings withered up from too much/little sunlight.


    great post, thank you. will being doing this next spring.

    Profile photo of MountainBiker

    What a smart way to get some measurements.

    Here’s a related (sort of) sun measurement tidbit. When I was positioning exactly where my greenhouse would be, I wanted to make sure I had it facing due south so as to maximize exposure. I used stakes that were leveled so as to have their shadows perfectly aligned at solar noon. It isn’t 12:00PM but rather exactly halfway between sunrise and sunset which I got from the local paper every day. It took repeated measurements as I kept adjusting day after day until I got the angle just right. Of course half the time clouds would roll in ten minutes before solar noon negating any adjustments that day.

    Profile photo of undeRGRönd

    Excellent method, Amanda!
    I give it 2 thumbs up, as a Professional Electrician. :D

    "ROGUE ELECTRICIAN" Hoping to be around to re-energize the New World.....

    Cogito, ergo armatus sum

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