Letting the sun into your garden is important, but you also have to think of keeping it as private as possible. So screening off the neighbors and ensuring privacy has to be done in such a way that it does not put the garden into shade or make it feel cramped. This can be done by using elements that add to your garden decoration; for example, a see-through structure such as the trellis or pierced screen concrete blocks, rather than a solid wall, will enhance the look of your area. But remember that the higher the fence, the less sunshine it sill let in, and that pierced screening of some sort is often better for climbing plants. It allows the air to circulate around them, and avoids down draughts.
If your plot already has a tree growing in it, then you must allow for the shade that it creates, and remember that only certain plants will grow under it – white clover, for instance, which acts as ground cover and does not mind poor soil and shade. The same goes for an existing hedge, which will leech out all the nutrients from the soil for a foot or so in front of it, making it difficult to grow anything there. Other factors must also be considered: are you dominated by a high-rise building which shuts out a lot of light? If so, garden mirrors might be the answer you are looking for. And is yours a site that gets more than its fair share of wind? In the case of roof gardens or high sited balconies, this is almost certainly bound to be the case.
Work out which way your plot faces and which way the sun shines, and how it affects your mode of life. You may find, for instance, when you come to chart the sunshine, that the spot where you are planning to sunbathe in the afternoon, in a small back yard or on a balcony, will be in the shade at the time of day; in which case you will have to think again. It is important, too, to note which parts of the area get the most sun. Some plants will obligingly put up with all sorts of conditions, including shade. But others must have direct sunlight in order to survive. Remember that in summer the sun climbs higher in the sky and you get longer hours of heat and light.