If you’re looking to plant up or improve a west-facing border then you’ve struck gold. A sun-soaked west-facing wall is one of the best places to grow many colourful plants but it’s not without a few challenges. The main issue you’ll have is the temperature level. West-facing walls receive the afternoon sun and evening heat which can be ferocious in the height of summer. Not only that, but the brickwork will soak up the day’s heat, releasing it throughout the evening and night like a hot water bottle. Not all plants can cope with this. Ferns and astilbe will go crispy for example, but some stunning plants are sun worshippers.
Here’s how to plant up that west-facing wall to best effect.
But First – Budgets
It can be tempting to buy small plants because they cost less, but younger plants are less robust. They are easily scorched by the strong sun and killed. If you can afford to go large then do so as these plants are more capable of coping with the heat. We specialise in larger plants that are more weather-robust than younger specimens.
Preparing the Soil
East, west, north, south – whichever border you’re planting will benefit from a touch of soil love. Pick out stones and roots and add some well-rotted manure or another organic mulch. Mulch is important when you’re bedding in plants for a west-facing wall because it keeps their roots cool and retains more moisture than plain soil. Some west-facing soils can be so baked they resemble the Sahara. Once you’ve improved the soil, planted, and watered consider a bark mulch around the base of plants to trap the moisture. This cuts down on watering time and keeps the soil area looking smart.
Top Climbers For Back Of The Border
The back of the border is where climbers and large shrubs look best. Choose sun-worshippers such as Campsis Madame Galen, an exotic peach climber that holds the RHS AGM. A beautifully scented evergreen Jasmine is a stunning west wall climber as is Wisteria Blue Moon a pretty and fragrant choice. Dependable semi-evergreen Passifloras enjoy the sun as do all types of roses. A lovely climbing rose for a west-facing border is the prolific yellow flowering Rosa Banksaie Lutea that also holds an AGM. You can successfully grow fruit against a west-facing wall too. Fan trained apples, pears, grapes, quince – they all love a sun-soaked position and the warmth quickly ripens their fruit.
Top Shrubs For West Facing Border
There’s plenty of choice for the mid and front sections. Ceanothus is a tough evergreen shrub with blue or white flowers and it’s another RHS Award of Garden Merit winner. If you prefer pink shades how about evergreen Photinia? We’re used to seeing the red version but Pink Crispy is an unusual marbled choice. Photinia can grow large so this one will need a yearly prune to keep its size down. The lavender-scented Caryopteris Heavenly Blue is a magnet for bees and the continental favourite Lagerstroemia, otherwise known as crepe myrtle, will flourish in a west-facing hot spot. This violet version is a stand-out choice and we have many others including pink and white specimens.
Front of the Border
The front of a border needs low-growing ground-cover plants. Luckily, there are plenty of heat-seekers to choose from. All types of cistus – the pretty rock rose – love a west-facing wall as do hardy geraniums. You can’t beat ‘plant of the centenary’ geranium Rozanne in a hot spot. Dead-head rock rose and geraniums so they flower all summer. For a pop of colour add lavender, flowering rosemary, thyme, daffodils, tulips, and creeping phlox. These low-growing plants enjoy the sun and drier conditions of west-facing borders.
Choose The Best Plants For A West Facing Wall
West-facing walls are bathed in afternoon heat and radiated warmth from brickwork keeps that heating on all evening. Heat tolerant plants are a must. If you choose from our suggestions then be sure to include a few of the evergreens for year-round colour. The best plants for a west-facing wall can look good all year round. Ceanothus, jasmine, and passion flower are good evergreen choices that support wildlife throughout the colder months. Remember to water your new plants regularly even if they are large. This is because all new plants need to establish their root systems. A west-facing wall will evaporate a lot of water from your hosepipe so make the most of your efforts by soaking it in the early morning or late evening when the heat is at its lowest.
A west-facing border is a joy to plant up and every year it’ll burst into bright colour. If you like exotic-looking plants with bright blooms this border will soon become your favourite place.
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