Choosing a 2024 Garden Kit and Determining Sun Exposure

With spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to begin making new garden plans!  With seven full-sized Garden In A Box options this year, we have kits suitable for a wide range of sun and shade exposure, as well as unique situations, such as high elevations or sloped yards. Read on for some garden recommendations, and be sure to sign up for the 2024 Interest List to be notified when garden pre-sale begins in early March!

Best Option for High Elevations:

Golden Hour is an excellent choice for folks residing in the mountains and at higher elevations. Every plant in this collection is hardy to at least 7,500ft, with many hardy up to 9,000ft. Although this garden is geared towards higher elevations, it would thrive equally well along the Front Range.

Best Option for Planting on a Slope:

Eyeing a sloped area in your yard for planting? The Sunny Slope garden was designed for those tricky inclines where growing grass or other plants is challenging. The perennials are strategically organized by water needs, with drought-tolerant plants positioned at the top and those with adaptable water needs arranged at the bottom.

Best Option for a Shaded Yard:

For yards that receive a lot of shade from trees or structures, we have three shade-friendly options this year. The Mountain Moonlight garden, covering 60 square feet with 15 part-shade plants, draws inspiration from the dusky glow of moonlight. Our popular Colorado Oasis garden is also comprised of adaptable plants for a mix of shade and sun. If your planting area is larger, consider the Native Shadows garden, a 100 square foot, adaptable choice for larger shaded spaces.

Determining Sun Exposure:

Understanding your yard’s sun exposure is vital to selecting plants that will thrive. Our gardens are categorized into Full Sun, Part Shade, or Adaptable. But what do these designations mean?

  • Full sun: Requires a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun per day.
  • Adaptable: Needs a minimum of 4 hours of direct or indirect sun per day.
  • Part shade: Requires no more than 4 hours of direct or indirect sun per day.

By direct sun, we mean totally unblocked sunlight on the garden. Indirect sun is sunlight that is in some way obstructed before hitting the plants, through tree leaves for example.

To determine your yard’s sun exposure:

  • Observe the planting area throughout the day.  Make note of the times that receive direct sunlight, indirect sunlight, and full shade.
  • Keep in mind any trees that will leaf out during the warmer seasons and cast shade.
  • Note that there will naturally be more sunlight during the planting and growing season, when the days are longer, than in the winter and early spring. So the later into the year you can determine you area’s sunlight, the better.

Also note that the intensity of afternoon sun can significantly differ from that of morning or evening sun. When planning your garden, the timing of sunlight is equally important to the duration of sunlight it will receive. Colorado’s afternoon sun, especially during the summer, can be intense. Full sun plants thrive in strong afternoon sun, so ensure they receive this direct sunlight, especially between the hours of noon and 4 pm. On the flip side, part-shade plants may find the afternoon sun too intense and will prefer the more tepid morning or evening sunlight.

Planning Next Steps: 

Ready to start planning your new low-water garden project? Explore the entire Garden In A Box collection here! For additional inspiration and a wealth of waterwise gardening tips, visit Don’t forget to sign up for our free, live-online Waterwise Yard Seminars, offering a season’s worth of gardening wisdom.