Every exposure in the garden, whether it's sun or shade, presents a challenge.

My patio faces south and it certainly heats up during the day.

The saving grace is that an ancient crabapple tree shades it starting about three in the afternoon.

Perhaps the most challenging exposure is a west-facing one. The unrelenting sun and heat put plants to the test on patios, decks and balconies that face west. If you face this challenge, follow these tips.

Start with a premium potting mix in your pots and planters. Use larger pots that hold more soil and thus dry out slower. Select flowers and foliage plants that originated in hot climates.

For example, in our project we've chosen verbenas from South America, geraniums from Africa, marigolds from Mexico and salvias from Texas.

The primary colors of the flowers--red, yellow and blue--are accented by the foliage of burgundy fountain grass and lime green 'Marguerite' sweet potato vine.

Expose greenhouse-grown plants to the full sun gradually. We took four days to get them used to their new sunny exposure.

Deadhead and fertilize about every ten days with a bloom booster fertilizer. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, watering thoroughly each time. With proper care, these plants will survive and thrive in their west-facing spot.