Small Front Gardens

Urban front gardens are difficult to cope with because they are often quite heavily shaded and also have to hold the rubbish bins. It is easy to give up on them completely but thoughtful planning can transform a front garden into a really attractive welcoming feature to the house.

The first thing is to create some structure for the rubbish bin, where it will be easily accessible but concealed from people going in and out of the front door. Something simple, such as a three-sided 3 ft tall brick enclosure is a good answer. One open side means the bin can be easily removed for emptying. A carefully constructed shed is less useful, being difficult both to keep clean and to maintain.

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Front gardens are seldom used for sitting in, being too public, but they do mark the approach to your home and should be well designed and welcoming. It is best to create a garden that will not require too much maintenance. Front gardens are often the forgotten areas of the gardener’s domain and receive little watering, feeding or weeding.

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An important rule for the tiny garden is not to try to squeeze too many plants into it and it is often best to go for formality. Eliminate all grass, lay paving and install pairs of large pots planted with clipped bay or box. A small weeping tree in the center of the plot can create an attractive feature. The weeping pear (Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’) makes an excellent specimen tree in a small space and has a charming arching habit and pretty silvery leaves.

Alternatively, go for a more informal look. This is not always easy in a small front garden space and it is tempting to put in too many plants, which will soon grow out of control.

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One solution is to cover the whole area with gravel or pebbles and create a Japanese garden with a rock or two placed at judicious intervals and a silver-leaved plant to balance them. Otherwise, colorful groupings of Pelargoniums or Impatiens can brighten up a front garden magically.

All these ideas will draw the eye away from the walled-off area of the rubbish bin and create a positive impression on those walking by.

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