Different types of sunlight; the benefits & drawbacks of each

There are three intensities of sunlight that suit plants: full sun, partial sun, and shade. Depending on the particular plant, and other plants near it, try to plan for a garden that groups plants that need a particular amount of sunlight together (or plan it to plant taller plants over small ones that need shade).

Other factors related to the type of sunlight are the intensity of the light, the duration of exposure, and the overall quality of the light. The closer to the light source, the more intense the light. So plants that need a lot of light for a long period of time need to be planted in bright areas - such as along a southern window.

The duration of light is more important to some plants (especially those that only flower during the short days of winter) than others.

The quality of the light is also important (but this explanation gets into wavelengths, which gets into physics, which gets confusing so we'll have to skip that here!). Light quality affects plants because photosynthesis requires certain wavelengths, while flowering and fruiting require others.