Think of summer in Perth and two things come to mind: sun and heat. And it’s not just the sweltering temperatures that are common in our neck of the woods. It’s also incredibly dry, and rain can hold off for weeks on end. It’s no surprise landscape architects find that designing a garden in this sunny climate comes with challenges. So before you get your hands dirty – here are a few hints and tips on the best plants for full sun in Australia.
What is a full sun garden?
If you’re living in the suburbs – you’ll be familiar. Full-sun gardens usually share a couple of characteristics in that they typically receive direct sunlight for a majority of the day and they tend to not have many trees or sources of shade nearby.
Planning for a sunny garden
Some plants simply cannot handle too much sun. And ironically ‘too much sun’ is exactly what the standard Perth garden is exposed to. Customers will often ask about the ‘right’ kinds of plants to get for a typical Perth garden. The answer is two-fold:
- Diversify your garden by choosing plants that have adapted to thrive in the sun. While all plants benefit from sunlight – some are better than others at surviving the summer months.
- Choose natives when you get the chance. Natives are already primed to deal with the local conditions, and most are naturally sun-loving plants.
- Give the plants a good start with quality soil that holds water well and a layer of chunky mulch to insulate them from the heat
Sun and heat resistant plants for your garden
Here’s a landscaping pro tip: choosing heat and sun resistant plants will maximise your garden’s chances when it comes to surviving those 43 degree days. Here are some of the best plants for full sun in Australia.
- White ANZAC Bottlebrush – a broad, sprawling shrub, about 1-1.5m high, that’ll shield the ground from the sun’s heat. The summer flowers appear mid-summer, attracting nectar-feeding birds.
- Coreopsis Grandiflora (Early Sunrise) – with a rich golden texture, and plenty of sun resistance, this sturdy flower has plenty to offer a bright and lively garden patch.
- Anigozanthus Yellow Gem (Tall Kangaroo Paw) is an ideal beauty for full sun-filled gardens bringing a splash of golden yellow. It’s tough in the heat, and can thrive in poorer soil conditions, reaching heights of 1.5 metres.
- Westringia dampieri (Coastal Rosmary) is a WA native and with a high tolerance for sun and wind, it’s ideal for exposed sandy or coastal gardens receiving sun for most of the day.
- Lavender – often overlooked but highly drought and sun resistant – these fragrant Mediterranean shrubs create perfect hedges and natural barriers throughout your garden.
- Grevillea Crithmifolia is a true-blue native to the South West and is one of the best plants for full sun in Australian gardens. A mixture of ground cover and shrub, its distinct, stunning white flower is complex and brings a hint of elegance to any garden.
- Citrus trees – ideal for bringing in some levels into your garden. Lemons and limes are ideal sun resilient trees and will deliver a home supply of citrus for you and your neighbours.
Know your water requirements
Smart water management is one of the most important factors in planning your full-sun garden. Without proper reticulation and effective drainage systems, your garden may deteriorate over time. Trying to keep a garden alive when the reticulation is down during summer can be an uphill battle. And at the other extreme – too much water can prevent your plants from growing. The most important things to remember are:
- Set up a watering schedule that reflects the season and soil composition.
- Ensure proper drainage per your plant’s needs.
- Stick to your watering days and avoid over-watering.
Ground cover to keep in moisture
Protecting your precious water and ensuring it doesn’t evaporate straight after a watering cycle is key to ensuring the success of a full-sun garden. Using mulch or a ground cover that protects your soil from direct sunlight is a great way of conserving water in your garden.
The right soil for a sunny garden
Perth’s Mediterranean climate has left us with below-average soil. It’s sandy; it’s loose and this makes it difficult for plants to draw on water held within the earth. Paying special attention to the quality of your garden soil will be key to its survival throughout the summer months. Perth’s sunny climate also wreaks havoc on soil pH levels and can impact salinity, creating inhospitable environments for many plants.
If you’re concerned about your soil quality, or want to measure your soil pH levels, it’s worth getting a home testing kit to see where you stand. These are readily available at any garden centre, or alternatively get an expert opinion on how to improve your soil at home.
Get the professionals involved
With years of creating full-sun gardens under our belts and with deep knowledge and appreciation of Perth’s unique coastal climate, you can trust we bring the experience and passion directly into your garden design and implementation.